Sallie Mae, the private student loan company, used to offer loan consolidation for the loans they issued. But here’s the thing: that’s not happening anymore. Student loan consolidation refers to the process of combining multiple loans into one, in order to have just one monthly payment.
When you consolidate federal loans, through a Direct Consolidation Loan, the interest rate becomes the weighted average of all your interest rates combined, rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percent.
But even without Sallie Mae offering direct student loan consolidation, there are still options available to those with private Sallie Mae loans looking to consolidate or refinance their student loans.
Sallie Mae Ends Loan Consolidation
Sallie Mae began as a government-sponsored entity, but went private in 2004. Then in 2014, the company split into two separate organizations; Sallie Mae is a private student loan lender, and now Navient Corporation helps to service government loans.
If you previously had multiple Sallie Mae student loans, you were able to consolidate them into one Sallie Mae loan. But the company no longer offers loan consolidation—and loan refinancing through Sallie Mae isn’t an option either.
Student Loan Consolidation vs. Refinancing
These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they do have some important distinctions. Sallie Mae consolidation is no longer offered for their private loans. However, students can refinance their Sallie Mae and other private student loans through another private lender or bank, which would then switch over the management of the new refinanced loan to that lender.
For federal loans, a Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to combine multiple federal student loans into one loan with a fixed interest rate. You might not receive a lower interest rate by choosing to consolidate your loans (because of the weighted interest rate rounded up), but you will only have to make one monthly payment. Private student loans cannot be consolidated via a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Refinancing your student loans is another repayment option to consider. While Sallie Mae does not offer refinancing, other private lenders do, including SoFi. These companies essentially purchase your existing student loans and offer you a new loan to pay them off, with a new interest rate and new terms. Private and federal loans are both able to be refinanced into a private loan.
You can refinance just a single loan, possibly lowering the interest rate, or combine multiple loans to refinance your overall student loan debt. If you refinance federal loans, they become private loans in the sense that you will no longer be eligible for federal repayment plan benefits such as Income-Driven Repayment or Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Student loan consolidation and refinancing with a private lender can offer the chance to restructure your loans. While consolidation can simplify debt and possibly lower monthly payments, refinancing can help you pay less over the life of a loan with a lower interest rate or different repayment terms. You can calculate what you might save if you consolidate or refinance your Sallie Mae or federal student loans.
Consolidating Student Loans
You may be able to consolidate your federal student loans with a Direct Consolidation Loan. While private Sallie Mae loans will not be eligible, federal student loans serviced by their new company, Navient, may qualify for consolidation. Stafford Loans, Direct Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans are all federal student loans eligible for Direct Loan Consolidation, too.
Consolidation may help make repayment easier to manage, since there will only be one monthly payment to make, rather than multiple payments. You can also choose new loan terms, with the possibility of extending out the repayment term to 20 or even 25 years.
While this can help you manage your monthly bill and possibly lower your payments, you must also remember you may be in debt longer and pay more interest over the life of your new consolidated loan.
Direct Consolidation Loans from the government also take the weighted average of your previous interest rates, rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percent so it’s possible that you will end up with a higher overall interest rate than you had before.
Before you make a decision on what to do with your Sallie Mae loans, could be a good idea to check that your loans are private loans from Sallie Mae, and not federal loans managed by their sister company, Navient, to avoid any confusion.
Considerations Before Consolidating or Refinancing Student Loans
Whether or not you have Sallie Mae or other private loans, or are just considering applying for a Direct Consolidation Loan for your federal loans, it’s important to review your current payment plan and rates before consolidating loans. Ask yourself this: Will you save money overall, or will you wind up paying more over the life of the loan?
Refinancing Your Private or Federal Loans
For those with private student loans, federal student loans, or a combination of the two, refinancing is another option to consider. Unlike consolidation, refinancing with a private lender such as SoFi allows you to combine private and federal loans into one, and it may lower the amount of interest you’re currently paying or lower your monthly payment.
Refinancing may be better for people whose financial situation, including employment, cash flow, or credit, has improved since graduating. And just like with consolidation, refinancing gets you one loan, and one monthly payment, so you no longer have to juggle multiple loan servicers and payments.
No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.