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“If the terms you’re going to get are the not as generous as the terms you already have, consolidation is probably not a good idea,” she says.Regardless of whether consolidating federal or private loans, there is a catch.Some are better than others, so make sure to look at the varying terms of each one — staying away from charges or origination fees and checking the maximum interest rate so you won’t get burned down the road.Most also have limits on how much you can consolidate.“With (our student loan program), if the borrower makes 12 months of on-time principal and interest payments, they can request to release the co-signer,” he says.“That creates tremendous flexibility, especially for families applying for loans for multiple kids.” Students consolidating federal loans can do so through the Department of Education’s website at Loan gov, by phone at (800) 557-7392 or by downloading a paper application at Loan gov/borrower/and mailing it in.
Once the application is submitted, the federal government estimates that it takes 60 to 90 days to officially complete the consolidation process.
Private lenders require borrowers to pass a credit check to get the best rates.
That means if your score isn’t superhigh, you could wind up paying more if you consolidate.
Consolidating both types of loans excludes borrowers from federal protections.
When eyeing consolidation options for private loans only, Mayotte says borrowers should evaluate the new loan’s hardship protections and repayment terms in addition to the interest rate.