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Unlike federal loans, it can be trickier to get your private loans consolidated.

Private lenders require borrowers to pass a credit check to get the best rates.

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“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.

Almost all types of federal loans can be consolidated.

This can be attractive to borrowers because the consolidation frequently results in longer repayment periods and lower monthly payments.

When it comes to consolidation, the types of loans you have matters, but most federal loans, including Stafford, Perkins, Direct Plus and Supplemental loans, can be consolidated with other federal student loans.

Once the application is submitted, the federal government estimates that it takes 60 to 90 days to officially complete the consolidation process.

Consolidating private loans works in a similar fashion, as far as paperwork goes.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.But borrower protections and repayment options on private consolidation loans can vary wildly from lender to lender. People who are working in the public sector or taking advantage of federal debt relief programs such as income-based repayment or public service forgiveness may not want to refinance, as these programs do not transfer to private refinance loans. Consolidating student loans via refinancing is best for people whose financial position - in terms of employment, cash flow, and credit - has improved since they graduated from school. Along with gaining a new degree, many graduates will also leave campus with new student loan payments they’ll have to fit into their post-graduate budgets.

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