If you have several federal student loans, you can consolidate them under one loan. If you have Private student loans the only way to consolidate them into one loan is through refinancing. To get a lower monthly payment, you'd make repayments over a longer period of time.
You may need to consolidate under a federal loan program to qualify for special consumer protections. For example:
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness: if you work at least 30 hours a week for a nonprofit or a government agency for ten years—and make 120 repayments on time—you may qualify to have your remaining federal loan balance forgiven.
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness: If you teach full-time for five consecutive years at a qualifying low-income school, this program can forgive up to $17,500 of your Federal Direct and Stafford loans.
- Income-driven Repayment Plans, where the amount of your monthly payment is based on your current income. While your income is low, your payments will be lower. As it increases, so will your payments.
For more information, visit the Federal Student Aid website and search for Loan Forgiveness Programs.