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Private student loans
Private Student Loan Consolidation
Private student loans cannot, in general, be consolidated with federal student loans. The low interest rates on federal consolidation loans are not available to private education loans. Nevertheless, there are several options for refinancing private education loans.
Since most private education loans do not compete on price, a private consolidation loan is merely replacing one or more private education loans with another. So the main benefit of such a consolidation is obtaining a single monthly payment. Also, since the consolidation resets the term of the loan, this may reduce the monthly payment (at a cost, of course, of increasing the total interest paid over the lifetime of the loan).
Home Equity Loans
Private education loans tend to have interest rates that are in the same ballpark as home equity loans. If your private education loan has a variable interest rate, you might consider using a fixed rate home equity loan to pay off the private education loan, effectively locking in the interest rate.
The following education lenders will consolidate private education loans. These are private consolidation programs, so the interest rates are dictated by the lender, not the government. There may be additional fees charged for originating these loans.
You should not consolidate your federal student loans together with your private education loans. They should be consolidated separately, as the federal consolidation loans offer superior benefits and lower interest rates for consolidating federal student loans.
When evaluating a private consolidation loan, ask whether the interest rate is fixed or variable, whether there are any fees, and whether there are prepayment penalties.