Federal loans stemming from both undergraduate and graduate programs may be consolidated under the Federal Loan Consolidation Program. ... You may consolidate through the Federal Government's Direct Consolidation Loans Program if you have a subsidized and/or unsubsidized Stafford Loan to include in the process.
At the minimum, your graduate student loans probably include a number of federal loans such as the Stafford Loans and Graduate PLUS Loans. Where federal loans, scholarships, fellowships and grants have fallen short, you may have chosen to supplement the costs of college with private or alternative loans and now have those to pay off, as well. There are a number of scenarios that put graduate students drowning in debt at this point. Undergraduates that migrated directly into a grad school program would never have become eligible to begin repayment of their undergraduate student loans. These old debts must now be paid off.
Absolutely yes. Depending on your financial circumstances and success in getting a job directly after graduation, you may wish to consider total loan consolidation. This process will extend your payments over a longer time, but it will cut them down sometimes to half of what they would be. These smaller, more manageable payments can make a world of difference when you are just getting started on your financial career.
Regardless of the repayment situation, graduates struggling to juggle monthly payments must consider consolidation an option. Before you commit to consolidate, ask yourself these questions to determine if it is a wise choice:
How many loans do you have? Federal? Private?
Where in your repayment are you? Within grace period?
Are any loans in default?
How many lenders do you have?
Are your monthly payments difficult to manage?
Do you have other monthly financial responsibilities?
Consider your situation carefully. Would you rather budget and save and pay your loans off as fast as possible, no matter what? Or would you rather pay what you can now, and keep paying smaller amounts until everything is taken care of?
Private graduate loan consolidation, unlike federal, typically requires you to have good credit or apply with a creditworthy co-borrower. Lenders have a lot of flexibility with their private loan products, versus the federal consolidation program. You will find lenders, such as Sallie Mae, that require a minimum in loan balances; and those, such as Bank of America, that are willing to bundle auxiliary educational loans like those used for textbooks and computers, into the private loan consolidation. Check with your lender to see what incentives and packages they may have to offer those wishing to consolidate. You have the freedom to do some shopping around in this regard, as the terms are often much more variable than in federal loans.