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Yet despite the appeal — and its popularity — student loan consolidation isn’t for everyone.
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers that may help determine if it’s the right move for you.
Unlike with refinancing, serialization won’t lock in a good interest rate. You shouldn’t pay origination or any other fees to get a consolidation loan.
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You also won’t be able to get an in-school loan deferment, because both of you would have to be enrolled to qualify. Although your existing loans will be packaged as one larger loan, your subsidized and unsubsidized loans are grouped so that you won’t be held responsible for extra interest on subsidized loans.
With loan serialization, a single lender buys your student loans and “stacks” them; you maintain your original terms and interest rates, but pay the loans off one at a time, starting with the loan with the worst interest rate.
A consolidation loan is just what it sounds like: You can take two or more outstanding loans and refinance them into one.
As with the Stafford Loans, there are both Direct and FFEL consolidation programs.You should do enough research to be able to negotiate the most favorable terms.Public and private loans can’t be combined, but if you have multiple private loans, you can consolidate those, too; contact your lending institutions to find out how.You may also have access to a new repayment schedule (like an income-contingent plan) that’s a little easier on your wallet.If you don’t care about the extra cash and just want a consolidation for the simplicity of a single monthly payment, you can use any money you save to pay down the principal.If you’re just finishing college, you’ll want to consolidate your loans after you graduate but before your grace period ends, so that you can take advantage of the lower in-school interest rate (the 91-day T-bill rate plus 1.7 percent, rather than the standard repayment rate of T-bill rate plus 2.3 percent).