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

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

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

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Student loan consolidation: FAQ

By Alicia Hahn

Written by

Alicia Hahn

Alicia Hahn is a student loans editor with more than a decade of editorial experience. She has worked with major finance and lifestyle brands including Mastercard, Forbes,, The Balance, and others.

ForbesStudent Loan HeroThe Balance
Reviewed by Kelly Larsen

Written by

Kelly Larsen


Kelly Larsen has written and edited content that spans many personal finance topics, including buying a home, saving for retirement, and paying off student loans. She first started learning about the world of finance through her work at In 2020, Kelly helped launch Paven, a financial well-being app.

Updated May 27, 2024

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."

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

Whether or not consolidating student loans is worth it depends on your specific situation.

Federal student loan consolidation could be useful if you’re struggling to manage multiple federal loans with different servicers. You might also use this strategy to extend your repayment term, which would lower your monthly payments. Lastly, federal consolidation can allow some borrowers — particularly those with Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) or Perkins Loans — to access repayment and forgiveness programs that they otherwise are ineligible for.

Private student loan consolidation, on the other hand, can help private and federal loan borrowers secure a lower interest rate, saving money over the life of your loan. You can also adjust your repayment term — shorten your term to get out of debt faster, or lengthen your term to lower your monthly payments. A student loan refinancing calculator can help you compare costs and savings for private loan consolidation.

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.

The average student loan refinance rate changes frequently, but it’s been trending upward since late 2021. As of Nov. 13, 2023, average rates on 10-year fixed-rate loans were 7.75% for borrowers with a credit score of 720 or higher, and rates on 5-year variable-rate loans averaged 6.32%.

While these averages can be a useful benchmark when reviewing refinancing offers, the actual interest rate you qualify for could be higher or lower. Your credit history, loan amount, repayment term, and choice of variable or fixed interest rates can all affect the rate you receive.

Learn More: Average Student Loan Refinance Interest Rates for 5- and 10-Year Loans

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 cosigner 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

With federal consolidation, only federal student loans qualify — private student debt is ineligible. Nearly every type of federal student loan can be consolidated, but certain restrictions exist. Parent PLUS loans can’t be combined with loans made directly to the student. Your loans must also be in repayment or a grace period, and if you’re still in school, you aren’t eligible.

If you are privately consolidating student loans, both federal and private loans generally qualify. However, each lender sets its own policies. Some may not consolidate loans made to parents, student loans made in other countries, or loans that didn’t result in a formal degree, among other restrictions. Always check that you meet the lender’s requirements before submitting an application.

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.

It’s possible that your credit score could improve after consolidation, but it depends on many factors.

Federal student loan consolidation by itself isn’t likely to affect your credit, but your credit could improve with good habits. If you previously had trouble affording your payments and lowered them by consolidating to a longer term, for example, you could more consistently make on-time, in-full payments. Building a healthy payment history is one of the most important factors to your credit.

You can also use federal student loan consolidation to restore defaulted loans into good standing, but you must meet certain conditions to qualify for this process. While this won’t remove the default from your credit report, it can make your loans more manageable and set you up for future success.

Privately consolidating your loans requires a credit check, which could temporarily ding your score. But with smart debt management, private consolidation can also help your credit. Combining multiple loans into one can simplify payments, meaning you’re less likely to miss a due date. And by adjusting your loan term, you could make your monthly payments more affordable or get out of debt faster — both of which could help your credit.

For federal student loan consolidation, you generally can’t consolidate an existing consolidation loan unless you combine it with another loan that hasn’t been consolidated. However, there are some exceptions to this rule if you have FFEL Loans and meet certain conditions.

If you are privately consolidating student loans, there are generally no limits to the number of times you can repeat the process.

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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