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How to Consolidate Student Loans


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Provide your loan details (3 mins)

  • Use our easy import tools to add the loans you want to consolidate
  • Provide some additional details about yourself
  • Get your lender's response in as little as 1 business day

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  • Federal Student Loans

    Our lenders can refinance some or all of your federal student loans into a private loan.

  • Private Student Loans

    Lenders also refinance private student loans from banks, credit unions or schools.

  • Parent PLUS Loans

    If you took out Parent PLUS loans for a student, you can refinance them through Credible.

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    Using Credible is 100% free. Get your actual rates and amazing customer support.

  • Origination fee

    None of our partner lenders charge loan origination fees when you refinance.

  • Prepayment penalty

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Student loan consolidation: FAQ

By Jamie Young

Written by

Jamie Young

Student Loans Editor

Jamie Young is a Credible authority on personal finance. Her work has appeared on some of the best-known media outlets including Time, CBS News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, AOL, MSN, and more.

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& Matt Carter

Written by

Matt Carter

Student Loans Editor

Matt Carter is a writer and editor for Credible. His work has been featured by CNBC, CNN Money, Consumer Reports, Money, USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and more.

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Updated June 1, 2023

Reviewed by Dennis Wentworth

Written by

Dennis Wentworth

Student Loans Editor

Dennis Wentworth is a Credible student loan expert with more than 30 years experience in the industry. Prior to joining Credible, he headed up national sales teams for Sallie Mae, Next Generation Insurance and Ascent Student Loans.

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Editorial disclosure: Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we receive compensation from our partner lenders, whom we will always identify, all opinions are our own. Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS # 1681276, is referred to here as "Credible."

This mainly depends on what type of student loans you have.

  • If you have private student loans, refinancing might get you a lower interest rate or reduced monthly payment (or both), which could help you more easily manage your loans during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can check rates and potentially prequalify for a much lower rate than what you have right now.

  • If you have federal student loans, it’s likely better to wait for updates on the CARES Act and forgiveness plans before consolidating with a private lender. Due to the pandemic, federals student loan payments and interest accrual have been suspended during the pandemic into 2023. If you refinance your federal student loans, you’ll lose access to this suspension as well as other federal benefits and protections, such as income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness programs.

Another option is to consolidate your federal student loans through a federal Direct Consolidation Loan. While your interest rate won’t change, you could opt to extend your repayment term up to 30 years, likely getting you a lower monthly payment. Just remember that a longer term means paying more in interest over time.

There are two types of student loan consolidation: private and federal. Both private and federal consolidation let you combine all your loans into one. But federal consolidation is only for federal loans and a private consolidation loan can combine both federal and private loans.

  • Federal: Federal consolidation is offered through the federal government in the form of the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan Program. It will combine all your federal loans into one so you don’t have to worry about multiple loans or servicers. You can also get a lower monthly payment if you want to lengthen your repayment period. The interest rate on a Direct Consolidation Loan is the weighted average of the rates on your existing loans, so you generally won’t save any money with federal consolidation, but it does help you simplify your payments.

  • Private: Unlike federal consolidation, private student loan consolidation allows you to combine both private and federal loans into one. It also gives you the option to lower your monthly payment by extending your loan term (which means you might pay more in interest over the life of your loan). Or you could shorten your loan term or potentially lower your interest rate — which could save you money over the life of your loan.

Read More: Student Loan Consolidation vs. Student Loan Refinancing

If you’re wondering if it’s smart to consolidate your student loans, the answer depends on your situation.

Typically it’s a good idea to consolidate your student loans if:

  • Your monthly payments are too high

  • Your interest rates are too high

  • You can afford higher monthly payments

  • You have too many loans to keep track of

Federal loan consolidation can take up to 60 days, but private consolidation can take as little as 5 to 7 business days.

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The best student loan consolidation companies offer generous student loan repayment options, competitive rates, low or no fees, and good customer service. To choose the best consolidation company, it’s a good idea to start by comparing your options.

If you just have federal loans and don’t want a lower interest rate, you should consider federal consolidation; but if you want to try to get a lower interest and/or have private loans to consolidate, as well, you should consider private consolidation.

Remember, if you consolidate your federal loans into a private student loans, you will lose the federal benefits such as certain income based repayment options, loan forgiveness, deferment and forbearance. You need to weigh these factors before deciding whether refinancing into a private student loan is right for you.

If you decide on private consolidation, Credible makes it quick and easy to compare multiple private lenders so you can find the right fit for you.

Federal consolidation doesn’t require a credit check. Private consolidation, however, does require a credit check. Each lender differs, but typically Credible’s partner lenders look for student loan borrowers with a score of 670 or above.

To qualify for federal loan consolidation you must:

  1. Already be in repayment or your grace period (you can’t consolidate while still in school or in default)

  2. Have your FSA ID (same one you used for the FAFSA)

  3. Have eligible loans to consolidate

To qualify for private consolidation you must have a:

  1. Steady job and income

  2. History of earnings

  3. Good credit score (or a cosigner with one)

  4. Good debt-to-income ratio (the lower the better, but typically below 50%)

If you can’t qualify for private consolidation on your own, considering a co-signer is always a good idea. And even if you can qualify without one, using a cosigner might benefit you by helping you qualify for a lower interest rate. Credible even lets you check your rates with different cosigners to see which can help you get the best rates.

Find Out: How to Consolidate Your Student Loans

The pros of consolidating your student loans are:

  • Simplify your payments: If you consolidate your loans, you’ll be combining them into a single loan with one payment. With private consolidation, you can even combine both federal and private student loans.

  • Lower your monthly payment or interest rate: You will usually be able to get a lower monthly payment with federal or private consolidation. But only with private consolidation will you be able to potentially get a lower interest rate.

The cons of consolidating your student loans are:

  • Might lose out on some benefits: If you choose to consolidate with a private lender, you could lose out on certain federal benefits like loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans.

Learn More: Pros and Cons of Consolidating Student Loans

Although both are types of consolidation, federal student loan consolidation and private student loan refinancing are very different. Here’s how:

  • Federal student loan consolidation allows you to combine multiple federal loans into one loan with a single monthly payment, but won’t give you a lower interest rate.

  • Student loan refinancing is the private student loan consolidation mentioned on this page. It lets you replace both federal and private loans with a new loan with a potentially lower interest rate.

Learn More: Private vs. Federal Consolidation

Nothing. Consolidating with one of our partner lenders is completely FREE. None of them charge prepayment penalties, loan application fees, or origination fees either — so you can feel confident when you consolidate through Credible.

Getting a federal Direct Consolidation loan will not affect your credit. Simply checking prequalified rates on Credible will not affect your credit either.

But if you decide to move forward with the application process and choose a private lender to consolidate with, most lenders will do a hard credit check. This can impact your credit score a little, but typically only by five points or less.

If you have federal loans that aren’t already part of the federal Direct Loan Program, consolidating federal student loans can make them eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Private consolidation, however, will disqualify you from student loan forgiveness. This means you can’t apply for any income-driven repayment plans either. So if you meet the qualifications for loan forgiveness, an income driven repayment plan, forbearance, or deferment, private consolidation might not be the best solution for you.

Additional resources to help you consolidate student loans:

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