How to Consolidate Your FFEL Loans to Qualify for Biden Forgiveness

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  • Some FFEL loans are federally guaranteed student loans held by private student loan providers and others are held by the US government.
  • FFEL Private Loans are not eligible for Biden’s amnesty plan. You need to consolidate into a direct loan to qualify.
  • Here’s how to apply for direct loan consolidation and the pros and cons of doing so.

You could lose your student loan forgiveness simply because you have the wrong type of loan.

President Biden’s $ 10,000 forgiveness plan and $ 20,000 Pell Grant beneficiaries’ forgiveness plan applies only to federally owned student loans. And some FFEL loans are currently ineligible.

Student Loan Doctor Student Loan Expert Sonia Lewis explains, “FFEL loans are federally guaranteed loans that are financed by a private company.”

Because some FFEL loans are serviced by private lenders, they are not eligible for student loan amnesty and other government protections, such as pandemic payment pause. The Biden administration says it is working to get forgiveness for people with private FFEL loans, but there is currently no specific timing or information.

However, some FFEL loans are already held by the US government through servicers such as Nelnet or MOHELA. Those loans already qualify for student loan amnesty; if your FFEL loans were on hiatus during the pandemic, they are eligible for forgiveness.

If your FFEL loans are privately held, you will need to consolidate them into government-owned direct loans to qualify for amnesty. Here’s how to do it.

How to fill out a direct loan consolidation application

The first step is to fill out a direct loan consolidation application at studentaid.gov. You will need to log in to start the application, but you can also use a read-only or demo application to prepare for the real application.

You will need to provide:

  • Your full name and any previous names
  • Your social security number
  • Your date of birth
  • Your permanent address
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address
  • Name, address and telephone number of your employer

You will also need to provide two references: two adults living in the United States who do not live with you and who have known you for at least three years. You will need to provide the following information about your references:

  • telephone number
  • Email address
  • Postal address

After filling in the information and providing references, the next section of the application is titled Loans that I want to consolidate. Here’s what this part of the application will look like:

A screenshot of the sample online application for direct consolidation from studentaid.gov.

This is the part of the Direct Consolidation application where you choose which loans you want to consolidate.

studentaid.gov


Only consolidate loans that are not direct loans.

Once you are done with that section, you will fill in the next section, titled Loans that I don’t want to consolidate. You will list any other student loans you want the federal government to consider when deciding on the maximum repayment term.

Choose your new manager

After choosing the loans you make and don’t want to consolidate, you will be asked to choose a new federal student loan manager.

Here is a list of federal lenders and details on each from the Better Business Bureau:

Sign a new promise note

Just like you did when you went to college, you will need to sign a promissory note, an agreement between you and the government stating that you will pay your debts. Lewis says: “Basically, you are creating a new loan with this government, so you should consider it as such.”

Your direct consolidation application will include a physical credit application, which means you could see a five to 30 point drop in your credit score, Lewis says.

What are the benefits of consolidating my FFEL loans?

If you consolidate your FFEL loans, you will become eligible for Biden’s $ 10,000 student loan forgiveness plan, or $ 20,000 if you have received a Pell grant (provided you meet the $ 125,000 per year income threshold for a individual or $ 250,000 for married couples filing their taxes jointly).

Additionally, you may be eligible for lower monthly payments. FFEL loans, which were suspended in 2010, are only eligible for certain federal income-based repayment plans. By consolidating into one direct loan, you become eligible for multiple IDR options.

What will i lose if i consolidate my FFEL student loans?

If you were paying your FFEL loan on an income-based repayment schedule, any payments you made for forgiveness will be forfeited if you consolidate now. You should start over once your student loans are consolidated.

The same generally applies to the forgiveness of the public service loan, although your payments will qualify under the PSLF temporary exemption until the end of October.

Here’s how long it takes for federal student loans to be forgiven under specific IDR plans:

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