A Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to consolidate (combine) multiple federal education loans into one loan. The result is a single monthly payment instead of multiple payments. Loan consolidation can also give you access to additional loan repayment plans and forgiveness programs.
There is no application fee to consolidate your federal education loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan.
You may be contacted by private companies that offer to help you apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan, for a fee. These companies have no affiliation with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) or ED’s consolidation loan servicers. There’s no need to pay anyone for assistance in getting a Direct Consolidation Loan. The application process is easy and free.
The answer depends on your individual circumstances.Pros
If consolidation would cause you to lose the benefits associated with some of your current loans and you are working toward earning those benefits, you should not include those loans in your new Direct Consolidation Loan. When you apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan, you don’t have to consolidate all of your eligible loans.For example, if you have both Direct Loans and other types of federal student loans, and you have been making payments toward PSLF on your Direct Loans, you should not consolidate your Direct Loans along with your other loans. Similarly, if you have Federal Perkins Loans and you are employed in an occupation that would qualify you for Perkins Loan cancellation benefits, you should not include your Perkins Loans when you consolidate. Leaving out your Direct Loans or Perkins Loans will preserve the benefits on those loans.If you want to lower your monthly payment amount but are concerned about the impact of loan consolidation, you might want to consider deferment or forbearance as options for short-term payment relief, or consider switching to an income-driven repayment plan for longer-term payment relief.Once your loans are combined into a Direct Consolidation Loan, they cannot be removed. The loans that were consolidated are paid off and no longer exist.
As a federal student loan borrower, you have certain rights that are not typically available with private loans. While refinancing your federal student loans into a private student loan can sometimes lower your interest rate, your private student loan will not necessarily have the same terms and conditions as your federal student loan.You should carefully review the terms of a private student loan before you give up the benefits available on federal student loans. The following are some examples of benefits that you may lose if you refinance your federal student loan into a private student loan:
Most federal student loans, including the following, are eligible for consolidation:
Private education loans are not eligible for consolidation, but for some Direct Consolidation Loan repayment plans, the total amount of your education loan debt—including any private education loans—determines how long you have to repay your Direct Consolidation Loan.Direct PLUS Loans received by parents to help pay for a dependent student’s education cannot be consolidated together with federal student loans that the student received.
Generally, you are eligible to consolidate after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment.
Here are some of the eligibility requirements for receiving a Direct Consolidation Loan:
*You may be able to reconsolidate an existing
A Direct Consolidation Loan has a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan. The fixed rate is the weighted average of the interest rates on the loans being consolidated, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent. There is no cap on the interest rate of a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Repayment of a Direct Consolidation Loan will begin within 60 days after the loan is disbursed (paid out). Your loan servicer will let you know when the first payment is due.If any of the loans you want to consolidate are still in the grace period, you have the option of indicating on your Direct Consolidation Loan application that you want the servicer that is processing your application to delay the consolidation of your loans until closer to the grace period end date. If you select this option, you won’t have to begin making payments on your new Direct Consolidation Loan until closer to the end of the grace period on your current loans.
Borrowers have different needs, so there are several repayment plans—including income-driven repayment plans, which base your monthly payment amount on your income and family size. You’ll select a repayment plan when you apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan. Learn about repayment plans.
Apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan. You can complete and submit the application online, or you can download and print a paper application for submission by U.S. mail.After you submit your application electronically or by mailing a paper application, the consolidation servicer you selected will complete the actions required to consolidate your eligible loans. The consolidation servicer will be your point of contact for any questions you may have related to your consolidation application.Unless the loans you want to consolidate are in a deferment, forbearance, or grace period, it’s important for you to continue making payments on those loans until your consolidation servicer tells you that they have been paid off by your new Direct Consolidation Loan.
This depends on where you are in the consolidation process.To ask questions about consolidating your loans before you apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan, contact the Student Loan Support Center at 1-800-557-7394.To request technical assistance while you are logged in and completing the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan Application and Promissory Note online, either complete and submit the feedback form or contact the Student Loan Support Center at 1-800-557-7394.To ask questions after you have submitted your Federal Direct Consolidation Loan Application and Promissory Note, contact the servicer for your new Direct Consolidation Loan. If you submitted your application online, your consolidation servicer’s contact information was provided at the end of the online process. If you submitted a paper application by U.S. mail, your consolidation servicer’s contact information was available when you downloaded or printed the paper application.