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You will need your loan records and account statements.The form asks basic questions (name, social security number, date of birth, address, etc.); what loans you do and do not want to consolidate; and what repayment plan you will be using.

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You can’t consolidate private loans in the federal Direct Consolidation Loan program, but some private lenders allow you to consolidate federal and private loans together. Your rate is determined by the weighted average of the interest on the loans being consolidated rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of 1%.

The Direct Consolidation Loan program is the right choice if your goal is to simplify the process for repaying federal loans and keep your options open for the many repayment plans available for federal loans. If you’re using private lenders for student loan consolidation, there is a chance you could get a better interest rate and possibly lower monthly payments. That’s because federal loan rates are so low – fixed rates of 4.45% for undergraduates, 6% for graduates in 2017-2018 – that it’s difficult for private lenders to beat the rates and make a profit.

It is quite common for people with student loans to deal with 10-12 lending institutions, which means 10-12 payments and 10-12 due dates each month.

When you consolidate student loans – either federal or private – it’s one payment to one lender, once-a-month. Loan consolidation for student loans was created to make it easier for millions of borrowers to pay off their debt.

However, there are a few twists in the Lend Key program worth noting.