Consolidating federal grad plus loans

Borrowers should have loan account numbers, estimated payoff dates and contact information for each of their loans' holders ready.

Those seeking consolidation should also review their repayment options at Student gov, so they're prepared to pick the proper repayment plan.

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It also means if you're a new grad with little credit history, you might need a co-signer to be eligible.

If a co-signer is necessary, O'Connor says borrowers should ask if there's a co-signer release option after a certain period of time."With (our student loan program), if the borrower makes 12 months of on-time principal and interest payments, they can request to release the co-signer," he says.

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.

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 consolidation loans come with borrower protections private lenders may not offer.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.Should borrowers pay off their loans early, they can save hundreds, sometimes thousands, in interest charges."Would it be nice to have just one loan where you make that one loan payment every month? We ask that you stay focused on the story topic, respect other people's opinions, and avoid profanity, offensive statements, illegal contents and advertisement posts. Bankrate reserves the right (but is not obligated) to edit or delete your comments.Please avoid posting private or confidential information, and also keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.When eyeing consolidation options for private loans only, Mayotte says borrowers should evaluate the new loan's hardship protections and repayment terms in addition to the interest rate."If the terms you're going to get are the not as generous as the terms you already have, consolidation is probably not a good idea," she says.


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