#1 Student Loan Lawyer
Updated on March 2, 2023
If you’re one of the millions of Americans holding student loans serviced by Navient, you may wonder whether consolidating those loans is smart. And with the federal student loan payment freeze in effect for nearly three years while Navient continues to charge interest and collect payments, the question becomes all the more pressing.
The answer is an emphatic yes.
Consolidating your Navient Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) Loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan is a savvy financial decision, particularly if you do it before May 1, 2023.
Doing so by then not only qualifies you for the payment pause but also lowers your monthly payments and, perhaps most critically, makes you eligible for student loan forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and the Income-Driven Repayment Waiver.
Yes, the federal student loans Navient services can be consolidated into a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan — even if you previously consolidated. But the same cannot be said for its private student loans. These loans cannot be consolidated or combined with FFEL or Stafford Loans. So if you have private student loans with Navient and seek a lower interest rate, you’ll have to look for private consolidation or refinance options with a new lender.
Related: How to Get Rid of Navient Private Student Loans
You can use an online marketplace like Credible to explore student loan refinancing rates and repayment terms with multiple private lenders simultaneously. You’ll need a good credit score and enough income to cover your debt expenses — i.e., mortgage, credit card debt, etc. — or a cosigner with both to get the best student loan refinance rates and repayment terms.
Related: How Do I Know if My Navient Student Loan is Federal or Private?
Navient charges no fees for consolidating federal student loans. In fact, Navient does not handle the federal student loan consolidation process.
When you apply for consolidation on StudentAid.gov, the process is handled by the new student loan servicer you choose to service your loan. There are no application or loan origination fees, and your credit score will not be checked during the application process.
Consolidation takes about two months
Consolidating Navient loans usually takes about four to six weeks from the application’s submission date. The consolidation loan application, which can be completed on the Federal Student Aid website, takes less than 30 minutes to complete. If you have other loans you wish to add to your consolidation loan, you can do so within 180 days of the date the loan was paid off.
By consolidating Navient loans, you may become eligible for loan forgiveness options, including Income-Driven Repayment Plan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Both plans wipe out your remaining student loan debt after you’ve met all eligibility requirements.
Normally, consolidation resets your PSLF and IDR qualifying payment counts. But last year, the Biden administration implemented a one-time waiver that lets pre-consolidation payments count towards income-driven repayment forgiveness.
This waiver is available to all borrowers who submit a consolidation application by May 1, 2023.
The IDR Waiver is designed to eliminate the remaining loan balances for borrowers who’ve been in repayment for over two decades and bring others closer to forgiveness. This is achieved through a one-time account adjustment that credits borrowers for any payment made under any repayment plan and time spent in some periods of forbearance and deferment.
Your interest rate may change
When you consolidate your loans into a new Direct Consolidation Loan, the loan will have a fixed interest rate that’s determined by the weighted average of the loans included in the consolidation. This fixed rate will remain the same for the life of the loan.
If you are consolidating multiple loans with different interest rates, your new loan may have a slightly higher or lower interest rate than your current rate.
Your monthly payment may change
When you consolidate your loans, your monthly payments may differ depending on your chosen payment plan. For example, choosing a plan based on your discretionary income and family size may get lower monthly payments. Or, if you’re a high-earner, you might get a more affordable payment amount by stretching your payments over a multi-year loan term based on your loan amount.
If you’re consolidating your loans to take advantage of the IDR Waiver, selecting an income-based repayment plan may be the most suitable option. This strategy can help you continue to receive credit for qualifying payments towards forgiveness, which can ultimately benefit your overall goals.
Determine if you have the right type of loans eligible for consolidation — i.e., FFEL, Stafford Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, Perkins Loans, or Parent PLUS Loans.
Gather all necessary information for the loan application, including your driver’s license information and two personal references.
Go to StudentAid.gov and log in to your account. If you don’t have an account, create one using your birth date and Social Security Number.
Navigate to the “Apply for Loan Consolidation” page.
Select the loans you want to consolidate, select a student loan servicer, and choose a repayment option that fits your financial situation.
Review your application carefully to make sure the information is correct.
Sign the promissory note, submit your application, and wait for your new loan servicer to process it.
Continue making regular loan payments or put your loans into forbearance until your new loan is in place, which can take several weeks or even months.
After consolidating your Navient loans, you’ll have a new loan that the U.S. Department of Education owns. This is useful because it makes you eligible for the CARES Act forbearance, which temporarily freezes interest and payments on your loans. Your first monthly payment will be due in late summer 2023.
Related: Who Took Over Navient Loans
Consolidating your Navient student loans can be a wise financial decision that puts you in a stronger position to manage your debt.
By taking advantage of the Direct Consolidation Loan program, you can reduce your monthly payments, lock in a fixed interest rate, and become eligible for student loan forgiveness programs.
While Navient’s private loans cannot be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan, student loan borrowers can still refinance those loans with a new lender to potentially secure a lower interest rate.
By carefully considering your options and acting before May 1, 2023, you can position yourself for long-term financial success and achieve greater peace of mind with your student loan debt.
Let’s talk if you want help figuring out whether consolidating your Navient loans is right for you. Book a call, and we’ll review your loans and come up with a detailed plan for your situation.