If you have an older type of federal student loan known as Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) it’s time to make a change. Federal Direct Loans have the best benefits. Learn about the benefits and how to consolidate FFEL loans to Direct. Read on to learn how five minutes of your time can make student loan repayment easier.
What are FFEL loans?
FFEL loans are an older type of federal student loan. Private companies own the federally guaranteed FFEL loans. The good news is that no new FFEL loans have been made since July 1, 2010. So if you took out your first student loan after July 1st, 2010 you don’t need to keep reading!
What are Direct loans?
Direct Loans are federal student loans that are held by the U.S. Department of Education. These loans are made directly by the U.S. Department of Education to the borrower.
How do I know if I have FFEL or Direct Loans?
You can look at a few different places to find out your student loan types. The name of the loan will include Direct if it’s a direct loan.
- Log in to the federal student aid website https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/sign-in/landing then on the Dashboard ‘My Aid’ click ‘view details’ then scroll down and expand the my loans arrows to see the specific loan names.
- You can also log in to your federal student loan servicer to view your loan types or call your federal student loan servicer and ask about the types of loans you have.
Why should I consolidate FFEL loans to Direct loans?
Department of Education held loans (Direct Loans) have several benefits that aren’t available to federal student loans that aren’t held by the Department of Education (FFEL, Perkins, etc).
Here are the benefits only Direct Loans qualify for:
- Payments have been paused and loans have had a 0% interest rate since March 2020.
- One time $10-20k cancellation (currently being blocked) was made available to Direct Loans and a limited number of FFEL loans.
- One time account adjustments that can get you closer to loan forgiveness, will only be applied to Direct Loans and other non-direct loans consolidated by 05/01/23.
- Public Service Loan forgiveness is only available for Direct Loans. To have past payments counted on FFEL loans, make sure to consolidate them to Direct before 05/01/23.
What information do I need to consolidate FFEL loans to Direct loans?
- Have your federal student aid login credentials ready or sign up for them if you have never accessed studentaid.gov before.
- You will need to provide two references. These reference have no obligation related to your loan. The references cannot live with you or with each other. Each reference must have a different address.
- Prepare to choose your repayment plan as part of your consolidation application. You can explore the repayment simulator to choose the best repayment plan (keep in mind you’ll need to choose an income-driven plan for PSLF or income-driven loan forgiveness). You can change your repayment plan at any time, so don’t let this step hold you up.
- Choose your student loan servicer. If you are pursuing PSLF you will choose MOHELA as the loan servicer.
How do I consolidate FFEL loans to Direct loans?
Go to https://studentaid.gov/app/launchConsolidation.action and log in. The application should take you less than five minutes. If you’re pursuing loan forgiveness (PSLF or income-driven loan forgiveness) be sure to ONLY consolidate your ineligible FFEL loans by themselves. Leave your Direct Loans as they are. You will select the loans from a list of outstanding loans to consolidate. Keep in mind you can consolidate a single FFEL loan by itself to convert it to a Direct Loan.
*An important note for married individuals: Your spouse may need to “co-sign” your IDR request after you complete your application. Make note of the co-sign code provided at the end of the application. Your spouse will need to login to studentaid.gov and select the option to “Cosign an Application.” If they don’t have a studentaid.gov account they will need to create one. Your application won’t be submitted until your spouse co-signs. Co-signing doesn’t obligate your spouse to repay your loan or repay their own student loans under an IDR plan. If your spouse does not co-sign before expiration (about 1 week), your application may expire and you will need to complete the application again.
What should I expect after I consolidate FFEL loans to Direct loans?
You have 7-14 days to accept the terms of the consolidation loan and after that the consolidation will be processed. The whole consolidation process typically takes 14-60 days.