You can save money by paying off this debt separately at an accelerated pace.
Finally, while a federal consolidation loan retains your access to federal student loan benefits such as interest-free deferment on subsidized loans, it might not offer you the lowest interest rate.
By separating and being aware of which kinds of loans you have, you will be able to identify what your consolidation options are.
If your loans are federal You most likely qualify for a government program to consolidate these loans.
If you’re currently in a grace period on any loan you wish to consolidate, you should indicate on the application that you want your consolidation loan payments to begin near the time when your grace period ends.
You could also wait to apply until you’re already near the end of your grace period.
Federal student loan consolidation is free; there is no application fee, and you don’t need to work with a private company that wants to charge you money to help you consolidate your loans. Most federal student loans can be consolidated, including Federal Direct Loans, Stafford loans (discontinued in 2010 and now made through the Direct Loan program), Perkins Loans and FFEL loans.
Parent PLUS loans cannot be included in a student’s consolidation loan.
You may also gain access to income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness that you wouldn’t qualify for otherwise.
However, extending your loan term will increase how much interest you pay, and you may lose any benefits associated with your existing loans, including interest-rate discounts, principal rebates, Perkins loan cancellation benefits, and any credit you’ve earned toward income-based repayment or Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Once your consolidation loan is approved and paid out, your first payment on the new loan will be due within 60 days.
Keep making payments on your old loans until your consolidation is finalized, unless any of your loans are in deferment, forbearance or a grace period.