Q: I have four Stafford loans with Sallie Mae – three are subsidized and one is unsubsidized.
I also have one student loan with direct loan. I am considering transferring the Sallie Mae loans to direct loan. Does it make sense to transfer these loans?
A: When you say “Direct Loan,” I believe you are referring to the U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loan Program, where you can transfer and consolidate your federal education loans into a single, new loan which offers lower monthly payments.
Whether or not it makes economic sense to transfer the loans depends on a host of factors, including: how manageable (or unmanageable) your monthly payments are; how many payments are left on your existing loan; the amount of time and interest you are willing to pay over time; and the interest rates on your current loans.
If you have variable rates on those Stafford Loans, it may be helpful to consolidate them in order to get a fixed rate.
On a Direct Consolidation Loan, the rate is based on the weighted average of all your combined loans, rounded up to the next highest 1/8th of a percent.
Your loan rate can never go above 8.25%. There are two quick and easy ways to see the financial ramifications of transferring/consolidating your loans.
You can use this online calculator provided by the Department of Education.
Or you can simply call the Department of Ed at 800-557-7392 and a customer service representative will be able to tell you your new payments — as well as how much extra you will pay in interest charges by consolidating.