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You'll also preserve the robust benefits of federal student loans, such as Income-Based Repayment, that private lenders don't offer.However, you'll need to carefully consider your personal situation in order to make this decision - since the interest rate you'll receive is a weighted average among all your existing loans, rounded to the nearest 1/8 of a 1%, you might actually raise the overall amount you pay in interest.When even the basic term "consolidation" means different things for different lenders, the process can understandably seem daunting.

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(For example, if you consolidate Stafford Loans at the 6.8% rate issued from 2006 to 2013, the rounding will bring the rate up to 6.875%.) provides a great rundown on the personal considerations you'll need to make in this article.

If you look to private lenders to consolidate, you'll get the benefits of making just one monthly payment as well as greater choice in determining what type of loan is the best fit for you.

Student loan debt is a grave concern in modern America.

In fact, the amount of debt from student loans topped $1.3 trillion at the end of 2016, and 68% of seniors graduating from public and nonprofit colleges have student debt – the average is $30,100.

Here's the rundown you need to determine whether student loan refinancing and consolidation is right for you.

First, what does consolidating student loans really mean?

You can only consolidate federal, not private, student loans through this program.

(Note: You cannot consolidate federal and private student loans together through the federal government, either.) You can consolidate an existing Direct Consolidation Loan so long as you have a new eligible loan with which it can be consolidated.

You're effectively replacing your existing loans with one new loan, and you can choose from options that offer you access to different loan terms and fixed, variable, and hybrid interest rates.

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