Private Student Loans Guru
Private Student Loans Guru

Private Consolidation Loans

By Mark Kantrowitz

A private consolidation loan replaces several private student loans with a single loan, simplifying and streamlining the repayment process. Some lenders allow private consolidation loans to refinance federal student loans in addition to private student loans.

If a borrower whose original private student loans were made with a cosigner is able to refinance the loans without a cosigner, the private consolidation loan will effectively release the cosigner from his or obligation to repay the original private student loans.

List of Private Consolidation Loans

This table lists all education lenders who provide private consolidation loans. The lenders are listed in alphabetical order.

LenderGeographic
Restrictions
Eligible
Loans
Repayment Terms
(Years)
Cosigner
Release
Death & Disability Discharge
Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) (Alaska Alternative Consolidation Loan)AlaskaPrivate10, 15No 
Cedar Education Lending Federal
Private
5, 10, 1512 
Citizens Bank Federal
Private
5, 10, 15, 2036Both
Citizens One Federal
Private
5, 10, 15, 2036Both
Commonbond Inc. (Student Refinance) Federal
Private
5, 10, 15, 2036 
Commonbond Inc. (Parent Refinance) Federal
Private
5, 10, 15, 2036 
Credit Union Student Choice Private15
Graduated, Level
48 
Dakota Education Alternative Loan (DEAL) (DEAL One Loan)North DakotaFederal
Private
10, 2548 
Dakota Education Alternative Loan (DEAL) (DEAL Consolidation Loan)South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming or WisconsinFederal
Private
10, 2548 
Darien Rowayton Bank (DRB) Federal
Private
5, 7, 10, 15, 20NoBoth
Earnest Federal
Private
5-20No 
Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) (iHELP Loan) Federal
Private
10, 15, 2024 
Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation (KHESLC) (Advantage Refinance Loan)Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West VirginiaPrivate10, 15, 20, 2536Both
LendKey Refinance Student Loans Federal
Private
1512-36 
New Hampshire Higher Education Loan Corporation (NHHELCO) (EDvestinU)New HampshirePrivate15-2524Death Only
Purefy (formerly CordiaGrad) Federal
Private
5, 8, 1212 
Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) Federal
Private
5, 10, 15
Level, Income-Based
24Death Only
SimpleFiCalifornia, Colorado, Illinois, TexasFederal
Private
5, 10, 15, 20No 
SoFi Federal
Private
5, 7, 10, 15, 20No 
U-fi Student Loans Refinance Federal
Private
5, 10, 15, 20, 2524Both
Wells Fargo Private Consolidation Loans Private1524Both
WSFS Bank Private1548 

Notes:

  • Cosigner release is defined as occurring after a specified number of consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest, if the primary borrower satisfies credit criteria. Some lenders may also require the primary borrower to satisfy minimum employment duration and minimum income requirements.
  • Geographic restrictions require that the borrower be a legal resident of or enrolled in an eligible college or university in the specified state or states. In some cases, the cosigner, if any, must also be a state resident.
  • Repayment terms may depend on the loan balance at the start of repayment.
  • Death and disability discharges cancel the remaining debt when the primary borrower dies or becomes totally and permanently disabled. The death and disability discharges do not apply when the cosigner dies or becomes disabled.
  • Lender terms and conditions are subject to change without notice. For the most up-to-date information about a lender's products and services, please visit the lender's web site.

Wait a Few Years After Graduation for the Best Rates

The interest rate on a private consolidation loan is based on the current credit scores of the borrower and cosigner (if any). Higher credit scores lead to lower interest rates. This is in contrast with federal consolidation loans, where the interest rate is based on the weighted average of the interest rates on the loans included in the consolidation loan, rounded up to the nearest 1/8th of a percentage point.

Borrowers should wait a few years after graduation before seeking a private consolidation loan. The borrower's and cosigner's credit scores decrease each year the student is in school because of increased credit utilization. By the time the student graduates, the credit scores are at their lowest point, yielding very high interest rates. It takes several years after graduation for the credit scores to improve, if the borrower pays all debts (not just the student loans) on time.

Caution about Comparing Loans with Different Repayment Terms

Be careful about increasing the repayment term when applying for private consolidation loans. Increasing the repayment term will reduce the monthly payments, making them more affordable. But, increasing the repayment term will also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. For example, increasing the repayment term from 10 to 20 years will cut the monthly payment by about a third, but will more than double the total interest paid over the life of the loan. It is best to choose the repayment term with the highest monthly payment the borrower can afford.

Warning about Refinancing Federal Loans into Private Student Loans

When a borrower refinances federal student loans into a private consolidation loan, the borrower loses the benefits provided by federal education loans. Think carefully about the tradeoffs before including federal student loans in a private consolidation loan. Is a lower interest rate worth it? A 1% decrease in the interest rate will save more than $500 in interest per $10,000 borrowed on a 10-year repayment term. Consider the benefits you will lose if you consolidate federal student loans into a private student loan. The refinancing process is final and cannot be reversed.

Federal student loans offer income-driven repayment plans and a variety of loan forgiveness and loan repayment assistance options. Federal student loans provide several loan cancellation and discharge provisions, including death and disability discharges. Federal student loans offer deferments and forbearances of up to 3 years in duration. Some federal student loans are subsidized, where the federal government pays the interest during deferment periods, such as during the in-school deferment and economic hardship deferment. Borrowers can rehabilitate defaulted federal student loans.