Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Can I consolidate my loans that are in grace?

Yes, Borrowers who consolidate loans that are in grace may receive a lower interest rate on their Direct Consolidation Loans if they are consolidating variable rate loans. However, once grace status loans are consolidated borrowers lose any remaining grace period. Borrowers receive their first bills within 60 days after the new Direct Consolidation Loan is made.

The timing in which an application is submitted is important:

Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2006 have fixed interest rates. While borrowers with fixed interest rate loans can consolidate while in grace, there is no benefit to do so since the interest rates for in-grace and in-repayment are the same.
Borrowers with variable interest rate loans should apply for Direct Consolidation Loans while their loans are in the grace status in order for them to receive the possible interest rate benefit.
Since repayment begins within 60 days of the day the Direct Consolidation Loan is made, borrowers should not apply too early in their loans’ grace periods; otherwise borrowers lose any remaining grace period. For example, if a borrower's loans are consolidated during the second month of grace, they would begin repayment within 60 days, thus forfeiting the remaining portion of the grace period. Therefore, borrowers should wait until about half-way through the 6-month grace period before applying for a Direct Consolidation Loan.

(Source: loanconsolidation.ed.gov)