Most also have limits on how much you can consolidate.

Know that you might need a higher credit score if you want the best rates without a co-signer.

consolodating private student loans-75consolodating private student loans-85

Regardless of how the market fluctuates, borrowers will never pay more than 8.25 percent on their consolidation loans.

Private loans can typically only be consolidated with other private loans.

Even if your rates seem high, t he Department of Education puts a cap on consolidation loan rates at 8.25 percent.

One major advantage of federal consolidation loans is that borrowers don't need a stellar credit score to qualify, they can apply any time (even if their loan is in default) at Loan gov, and they'll always get a fixed interest rate.

Consolidation provides grads with the ability to combine their student loans into one megaloan, but it comes with drawbacks.

Along with gaining a new degree, many graduates will also leave campus with new student loan payments they'll have to fit into their post-graduate budgets.

Federal consolidation loans come with borrower protections private lenders may not offer.

These include deferment -- the ability to suspend payments under certain circumstances such as serving active military duty, attending further education or unemployment -- and forebearance, which allows borrowers to postpone payments while still accruing interest, in cases of financial hardship.

Federal loan borrowers can also lower their monthly payments by extending the life of their loan, having their payments capped according to their income and by having their debt dismissed after making 25 years of consecutive payments under the income-based repayment plan.

But borrower protections and repayment options on private consolidation loans can vary wildly from lender to lender.

Instead of making multiple payments to multiple lenders, the borrower only has to pay off the new consolidation loan, says Michelle Pezzulli, vice president of operations for Credit Union Student Choice, a student lending service provider in Washington, D.