Do not pay for federal student loan consolidation
Recently I have listened to and watched numerous ads on radio and television for student loan consolidation assistance. But did you know that after your initial consultation with one of these companies they will charge you to consolidate your loans – which is something you can do on your own for free.
Consolidating your federal student loans may seem overwhelming and scary, but it isn’t that bad. Even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you can go through the step-by-step process offered by the Department of Education.
To begin, you will need to go to studentloans.gov (https://studentloans.gov) and enter your information (Social Security Number, last two letters of your last name, date of birth, and PIN – the same PIN you used to fill out the FAFSA).
Once you have signed in, you will have access to all of your federal loans. You can also view a list of your federal loans at the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) (https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA/).
From the Student Loan page, you can consolidate your federal loans. To start the process, select “Complete Direct Consolidation Loan Application and Promissory Note.”
The electronic application on StudentLoans.gov consists of the following five steps:
• Choose Loans & Servicer
• Repayment Plan Selection
• Terms & Conditions
• Borrower & Reference Information
• Review & Sign
After you submit your application electronically via StudentLoans.gov or by mailing a paper application, the consolidation servicer you selected will complete the actions required to consolidate your eligible loans.
The consolidation servicer will be your point of contact for any questions you may have related to your consolidation application.
It is very important that you continue making payments, if required, to the holders or servicers of the loans you want to consolidate until your consolidation servicer informs you that your loans have been paid off.
If you cannot afford those payments, contact your lender and ask for “forbearance,” until the consolidation has gone through.
If you have questions about consolidating your loans, there are a few free resources you can contact for assistance.
• If you need help through the Direct Consolidation Loan process, contact the Loan Consolidation Information Call Center at 1-800-557-7392.
• To request technical assistance while signed in and in the process of consolidating, select the “Contact Us” tab in the top menu bar. From there, you can complete and submit the feedback form or select “Additional Information” and contact the Student Loan Support Center at the phone number provided.
• If you have questions after you submit your loan application, contact the consolidation servicer you selected to complete the actions required to consolidate your loans. If you submitted your application electronically, your servicer’s contact information was provided at the end of the electronic process. If you submitted a paper application, your servicer’s contact information was available when you downloaded and printed the paper application.
Remember to read all correspondence sent to you by the servicer. They may be missing information that you must provide before the consolidation can be complete. If you don’t provide the required information/documents in the allotted time, you might have to start the process all over.
To learn more, visit iGrow.org.