The interest rate must not exceed 8.25% for consolidation loans prior to July 2013.However, the interest rate may be greater than 8.25% if your consolidation application was received on or after July 1, 2013.
Consolidation loan borrowers should not be charged origination fees.
If you already have a consolidation loan with either FFEL or Direct, you are not allowed to “reconsolidate’, except in limited circumstances.
The Department strongly encourages borrowers to apply on-line, but you may also download and print a paper application to submit by regular mail. Prior to July 1, 2006, married borrowers could choose to consolidate federal student loans from both spouses or jointly consolidate the loans of either spouse.
The Department provides the following contact information if you have questions: If necessary, you can also try calling the general Student Loan Support Center at 1-800-557-7394. Both borrowers had to agree to be jointly and severally liable for repayment.
There are numerous problems that can arise–for example, if one of the divorced ex-spouses wants to apply for IBR.
The Department says that borrowers with joint consolidation loans may repay under the IBR/PAYE plan as long as both spouses qualify with partial financial hardships.
Another common problem is that partial discharge of a joint consolidation loan under any of the discharge programs (other than death discharge) does not eliminate joint liability for the remaining balance.
Further, borrowers with joint FFEL consolidation loans, according to the Department, may not reconsolidate into Direct Loans and therefore are not eligible for public service loan forgiveness. The fixed rate is based on the weighted average of the interest rates on the loans at the time of consolidation, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percentage point.
As you weigh the pros and cons, keep in mind that timing is critical.