If you’re struggling with (and sinking under) payments for a number of federal student loans, you can apply to the Department of Education for a Direct Consolidation Loan. This type of loan allows students who have graduated to combine multiple student loans into a single loan, with a single monthly payment and one interest rate—one that may even be lower than those for the original loans. If you have private loans, say from a bank or college, you are not eligible for a Direct Consolidation Loan, even if you obtained your private loan to finance your education.
You can apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan yourself, using the Department of Education’s StudentLoans.gov website. However, if you have already defaulted on loans you will instead need to apply at the Department of Education’s Direct Consolidation Loan website. The application process is manageable, especially for those who themselves successfully applied for the original loans. But it does require more time and patience than you may have at hand, especially if you are working.
Enter services such as National Debt Relief, The Student Loan Clinic and USA Student Loans that provide assistance throughout the entire process. For a fee of $500 and up, sometimes plus monthly payments, you provide the company with your information, and professionals fill out and file all paperwork to the Department of Education. Our articles about student loan consolidation assistance can help you understand more about these services and how you can better manage your own financial situation.
Many of the best services also act as a liaison between you and the Department of Education, so any problems or issues with your application and paperwork are handled through the company first. Furthermore, after you consolidate your student loans, you will be required to provide the Department of Education with yearly updates regarding your income and family status. These companies may also file that information in a timely manner for you.
However, be cautious when choosing a company to provide loan consolidation assistance. Some companies are simply advertising and marketing services that provide information but do not actually offer loan consolidation assistance. In addition, the company may gather personal information beyond that needed for the application itself. When going through the application process, you will provide much personal data, including Social Security numbers, FAFSA numbers and bank information. Look carefully at each company’s privacy statement to ensure it lists the exact information it will collect from you and to ensure it will not sell your personal information to any third party.
When looking for the best company to assist you throughout the consolidation process, you want a business that will not charge you numerous fees, will assist with all possible paperwork and takes your privacy seriously.
Here are the criteria we used to evaluate these services.
Document Preparation & Filing
When looking for the best document preparation service, you want a company that will assist throughout the entire process and with all the paperwork such as the Direct Loan Consolidation application, yearly updates and the promissory note. The promissory note is a legal document which states the borrower agrees to repay the loan in a fixed or determined amount of time. Additionally, many student loan consolidation companies act as a liaison between you and the Department of Education. Look for companies that handle all of the communication and can work quickly to get the application moving forward.
Disclosure & Privacy
Many companies will work with you if you have any defaulted loans. For many loans, you may be in default if you have not made any payments on that loan within the past 270 days. Additionally, look at each service carefully to make sure it will assist preparing documents in your state.
Help & Support
When it comes to saving money and getting out of debt, many questions and concerns can arise. Email and telephone are the most popular communication options available from these services. Many companies also provide FAQs and live chat support as additional resources.
Student loan consolidation services can help you more easily manage your debt. Having an excessive amount due in loans can be a scary and overwhelming situation, but with the right help, you can make your financial situation much easier to manage.