If student Loan debt is a heavy monthly burden on you or your family, you are not alone. And if the monthly payment is becoming so unmanageable that you may have already missed payments or be in danger of default, then loan consolidation may be right for you.
A consolidation loan is just what it sounds like. With a loan consolidation program your high interest student loans are combined into one sometimes lower interest loan, with one lower monthly payment, that you need to make to only one lender.
Consolidation Loans are much like the same idea of refinancing a mortgage, or taking a home equity loan to consolidate credit card debt or pay off other high interest loans. Just about every kind of Federal Student Loan qualifies for loan consolidation including; FFELP, FISL, Perkins, Health Professional Student Loans, NSL, HEAL, Guaranteed Student Loans and Direct loans. In some instances loan consolidation is even available for private education loans as well. Loan consolidation is offered for student loans for either graduate or undergraduate schools.
Interest rates on consolidated student loans are calculated by taking a weighted average of the loans being consolidated, and are then rounded up to the nearest 1/8 of a percent. The new interest rate cannot exceed 8.25%.
So for example let's say that a student has a couple of Stafford Loans that were originated on or after July of 2006. The fixed interest rates on these loans would be 6.8%. If only these loans are consolidated the new resulting interest rate would be 6.875%, a statistically insignificant increase, but the student would gain the advantages of only having to pay a single lender, and often gets extended time for pay back.
In the case of consolidating mixed loan products, like say a combination of Perkins Loans and Stafford Loans, the resulting interest rates will always wind up somewhere in between. The weighted average will give you interest rates that are lower than your highest rated loans, but that will also be higher than your lowest loan products. So again the overall increase or decrease in your interest rates will be negligible – the true advantage of loan consolidation is not necessarily in lowering interest rates, but in actually lowering monthly payments, and extending the term of your loans, making your student loan debt more manageable, and less likely to result in default.
Keep in mind the other advantage to loan consolidation is that there are no fees or costs associated with consolidation, ever. If any service is charging any kind of upfront fees for loan consolidation, they are likely a scam and should be avoided.
Student or parent borrowers can apply for a consolidation loans, however parent loans cannot be combined with the student borrower loans, only loans to the same individual can be consolidated. But of course a parent borrower and their students can consolidate their own loans separately.
Even loans that are in default but with satisfactory repayment arrangements, may qualify for loan consolidation.
Consolidate student loans for as low as 4.5% from How to Pay Student Loans