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But borrower protections and repayment options on private consolidation loans can vary wildly from lender to lender.
Betsy Mayotte, director of regulatory compliance for the student debt assistance group, American Student Assistance, makes sure to tell borrowers to stay away from consolidation loans that combine federal and private loans.
Before you consolidate, consider the following pros and cons: Note: Just remember, you must continue making payments after submitting your application until you receive notice from your servicer that underlying loans have been paid off.
You have the option to select the servicer of your choice (of which, Nelnet is an option) After your new Direct Consolidation Loan is complete, you may still add more eligible loans to your existing consolidation.
Instead of making multiple payments to multiple lenders, the borrower only has to pay off the new consolidation loan, says Michelle Pezzulli, vice president of operations for Credit Union Student Choice, a student lending service provider in Washington, D. “That new loan will have its own interest rate; it will have its own repayment terms; it will have its own terms and conditions,” she says.
This can be attractive to borrowers because the consolidation frequently results in longer repayment periods and lower monthly payments.
Know that you might need a higher credit score if you want the best rates without a co-signer.
Federal consolidation loans come with borrower protections private lenders may not offer.
The difference is you’ll need to apply through a private lender.
These include deferment — the ability to suspend payments under certain circumstances such as serving active military duty, attending further education or unemployment — and forebearance, which allows borrowers to postpone payments while still accruing interest, in cases of financial hardship.
Federal loan borrowers can also lower their monthly payments by extending the life of their loan, having their payments capped according to their income and by having their debt dismissed after making 25 years of consecutive payments under the income-based repayment plan.
Regardless of how the market fluctuates, borrowers will never pay more than 8.25 percent on their consolidation loans.
Private loans can typically only be consolidated with other private loans.