Student Debt — Student Loan Consolidation & Repayment Options

Information and Online Resources About Student Loan Consolidation and Other Options To Repay Your Student Loans

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Student Loan Repayment Information

What You Need To Know About Repaying Student Loans

After you graduate, drop below half-time enrollment, or leave school, you have a period of time before you have to begin to repay your student loans. This “grace period” will be

  • Six months for a Federal Stafford Loan(FFEL or Direct)
  • Nine months for Federal Perkins Loans

The repayment period for all PLUS loans begins on the date the loan is fully disbursed, and the first payment is due within 60 days of the final disbursement. However, a graduate student PLUS loan borrower (as well as a parent PLUS borrower who is also a student) can defer repayment while the borrower is enrolled at least half time, and, for PLUS loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, for an additional six months after the borrower is no longer enrolled at least half-time. Interest that accrues during these periods will be capitalized if not paid by the borrower.

Parent PLUS loan borrowers whose loans were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, may choose to have repayment deferred while the student for whom the parent borrowed is enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after that student is no longer enrolled at least half-time. Interest that accrues during these periods will be capitalized if not paid by the borrower.

Exit Counseling

You'll receive information about repayment, and your loan provider will notify you of the date loan repayment begins. We can't emphasize enough the importance of making your full loan payment on time either monthly (which is usually when you'll pay) or according to your repayment schedule. If you don't, you could end up in default, which has serious consequences (scroll down to the Default discussion below). Student loans are real loans—just as real as car loans or mortgages. You have to pay back your student loans. Find out about your obligations in this section so you can stay on top of your loans.

Get Your Loan Information

The U.S. Department of Education's National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) allows you to access information on loan and/or federal grant amounts, your loan status (including outstanding balances), and disbursements made.

Paying Back Your Loan(s)

You have a choice of repayment plans. How much you pay and how long you take to repay your loans will vary depending on the repayment plan you choose. There are several repayment plans available: Standard, Extended, Graduated, Income Based Repayment (IBR), Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) (available to borrowers with Direct Loans), and Income-Sensitive Repayment (available to borrowers with FFEL Loans).

Why does the amount of interest I pay vary from month to month?

Interest accrues on a daily basis on your loans. Factors such as: the number of days between your last payment, the interest rate, and the amount of your loan balance, determine the amount of interest that accrues each month.

Direct Loan Servicing Online

If you have questions about your Direct Loan, you can go online to find the answers. With your PIN, you can view your detailed account information, complete exit counseling, make an online payment, enroll in any of our electronic services, and much more.

Trouble Making Payments

If you're having trouble making payments on your loans, contact your lender as soon as possible. Your lender will work with you to determine the best option for you. Options include:

  • Changing repayment plans

  • Deferment - if you meet certain requirements. A deferment allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan

  • Forbearance - if you don't meet the eligibility requirements for a deferment but are temporarily unable to make your loan payments. A forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan, temporarily make smaller payments, or extend the time for making payments. Read more about deferments and forbearance options.

If you stop making payments and don't get a deferment or forbearance, your loan could go into default, which has serious consequences. Contact your lender regarding options for postponing repayment if you are having trouble making payments.


If you default, it means you failed to make payments on your student loan according to the terms of your promissory note, the binding legal document you signed at the time you took out your loan. In other words, you failed to make your loan payments as scheduled. Your school, the financial institution that made or owns your loan, your loan guarantor, and the federal government all can take action to recover the money you owe. Here are some consequences of default:

  • National credit bureaus can be notified of your default, which will harm your credit rating, making it hard to buy a car or a house.

  • You would be ineligible for additional federal student aid if you decided to return to school.

  • Loan payments can be deducted from your paycheck.

  • State and federal income tax refunds can be withheld and applied toward the amount you owe.

  • You will have to pay late fees and collection costs on top of what you already owe.

  • You can be sued.

Loan Discharge (Cancellation)
In certain circumstances, your loan can be discharged/canceled.

Cancellation and Deferment Options for Teachers
If you're a teacher serving in a low-income or subject-matter shortage area, it may be possible for you to cancel or defer your student loans. Let us help you find out if you qualify.

Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees
Under the Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees Program, the borrower must be employed full-time in a public service job during the same period in which the qualifying payments are made and at the time that the cancellation is granted. The amount forgiven is the remaining outstanding balance of principal and accrued interest on an eligible Direct Loan for a borrower who is not in default and who makes 120 monthly payments on the loan after October 1, 2007.

Student Loan Consolidation

Consolidation loans allow you to combine different types of federal student loans to simplify repayment. Even if you have just one loan, you can also choose to consolidate it. Both the FFEL and Direct Loan Programs offer consolidation loans. There are several advantages to consolidate or rehabilitate your loan as described in the categories below.

Notice: Our toll-free 1800DEBT.COM number is primarily for consumers with credit card debt. The agencies that handle these calls and the programs that they offer, e.g., a Debt Management Plan and Debt Settlements, are not designed to handle student debt. Many consumers with student debt, however, also have credit card debt that they must also resolve. If you have credit card debt, by all means call 1800DEBT.COM (that's 1800-332-8266) for a FREE debt consultation, or click here to apply online for a consultation for debt relief.

FFEL Consolidation Loans

A FFEL Consolidation Loan is designed to help student and parent borrowers consolidate several types of federal student loans with various repayment schedules into one loan. With a FFEL Consolidation Loan, you will make only one payment a month. Under this program, your consolidation loan will be made by a commercial lender, credit bureaus will be notified that your account has a zero balance, and you will sign a new promissory note that will establish a new interest rate and repayment schedule.

To receive a FFEL Consolidation Loan, you must be in repayment on your defaulted loan (that is, three voluntary, on-time, full monthly payments). Depending on the balance due, the repayment period may extend up to 30 years. If you owe no other delinquent or defaulted debts to the United States, you will again be eligible for other federal funds, including FHA loans, VA loans, and Title IV student financial aid funds.

Speak To A Certified Debt Professional

We strongly suggest that prior to enrolling in any type of student debt program or any other debt service that you first speak to several debt professionals. Obviously you can call anyone that you wish and speaking to 3 or more debt professionals may prove very beneficial in finding the right option for your needs. So, by all means, be sure to check out the various resources listed on this page and website.

We highly recommend, however, that if you are also burdened with credit card debt, you call 1800 DEBT.COM for a FREE debt consultation. By calling this number you will not only be able to speak immediately to a "certified" debt specialist, but based on the area code you're calling from, your call will automatically be routed to a debt professional in your local area. Today, each state has their own laws, regulations and licensing requirements, so it's important to speak with someone who is familiar with your particular area.

In addition, the debt management specialist will be able to assist you in various ways depending on your particular situation. So do yourself and your loved ones a huge favor that could significantly change your lives and call right now and speak to a debt professional. The call is absolutely free, completely confidential and there is no obligation whatsoever. You truly have nothing to lose, except that is — your debt!

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