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The Department strongly encourages borrowers to apply on-line, but you may also download and print a paper application to submit by regular mail. Prior to July 1, 2006, married borrowers could choose to consolidate federal student loans from both spouses or jointly consolidate the loans of either spouse.

Another common problem is that partial discharge of a joint consolidation loan under any of the discharge programs (other than death discharge) does not eliminate joint liability for the remaining balance.

Further, borrowers with joint FFEL consolidation loans, according to the Department, may not reconsolidate into Direct Loans and therefore are not eligible for public service loan forgiveness. The fixed rate is based on the weighted average of the interest rates on the loans at the time of consolidation, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percentage point.

Loans that are not eligible for consolidation include state or private loans that are not federally guaranteed.

Although all of these different loans may be consolidated, you must have at least one outstanding FFEL or Direct Loan to obtain a Direct Consolidation Loan.

This means, for example, that a Perkins Loan on its own cannot be consolidated into a Direct Loan.

You may consolidate with Direct Loans during grace periods, once you have entered repayment, or during periods of deferment or forbearance.

The interest rate must not exceed 8.25% for consolidation loans prior to July 2013.

However, the interest rate may be greater than 8.25% if your consolidation application was received on or after July 1, 2013.

Direct consolidation loans are now the only type of federal student consolidation loan.

Under the Direct Loan Consolidation Program, you can consolidate Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Supplemental Loans for Students (SLSs), Federally Insured Student Loans (FISLs), PLUS Loans, Direct Loans, Perkins Loans, Health Education Assistance Loans (HEALs), and just about any other type of federal student loan.

APPLYING FOR DIRECT LOAN CONSOLIDATION All borrowers must now apply for Direct Loan consolidation using the web site. It is very important to review this sheet and check to make sure all of the loans you wanted to consolidate are included in the new consolidation loan.