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Can You Consolidate Private and Federal Loans Together?

If you are currently repaying both private and federal student loans, you might be wondering, “Can you consolidate private and federal loans together?” The short answer is – no, you cannot consolidate federal and private loans together. However, you can combine them through refinancing. Let’s get into the difference between those two terms. We’ll define each of them and describe their pros and cons.

Consolidating vs. refinancing

“Consolidating” and “refinancing” are often used interchangeably. However, there are some distinct differences between the two. Both involve combining multiple loans into one single loan. The lender pays off your existing loans and gives you a new one in exchange. However, consolidating is only possible among federal loans, whereas students can refinance either federal or private loans.

Related: Student loan consolidation vs refinancing: Pros and cons

Consolidating federal loans

Consolidation means combining multiple federal student loans. Department of Education loans are the only loans eligible for consolidation. Private loans cannot be exchanged for federal loans. 

Why consolidate student loans?

If you have federal loans with multiple servicers, consolidating them can get you a single monthly payment. Consolidation can also lower the amount of your monthly payment by extending the repayment period. However, you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan.

Federal student loan consolidation also allows borrowers to combine multiple types of federal loans. This includes Direct, FFEL, PLUS, and Perkins loans. Consolidating FFEL or Perkins loans into a Direct Consolidation loan can make borrowers eligible to repay those loans on an income-driven repayment plan.

Refinancing private and federal loans

Refinancing is the consolidation of private or federal student loans. There are several banks and other financial entities that offer refinanced loans. The new lender you select will repay your loans in exchange for a single private loan. Federal loans can be combined with private loans by refinancing. 

Why refinance student loans?

Refinancing private or federal student loans gives borrowers one monthly payment to one lender as opposed to several. Refinancing can also earn borrowers a lower interest rate. This will save you money over time.

See also: How often can you refinance student loans?

Keep in mind, however, that refinancing federal loans will cause you to lose access to the benefits that come with them. You’ll lose access to income-driven repayment plans, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and lenient deferment and forbearance options. If you plan on taking advantage of any federal student loan benefits, you can refinance only your private loans and keep your federal loans. 

Summing it up


  • Refinancing and consolidation are both terms for combining multiple loans into one
  • You can only consolidate federal loans with one another; it is impossible to consolidate private loans
  • Consolidation comes with the benefits of a simplified monthly payment, and potentially lower payments and a longer repayment period
  • Borrowers should note that consolidation may lead to a higher total to repay


  • Refinancing is the process of hiring a private lender to pay off your loans and creating a new loan agreement with them
  • Borrowers can refinance either federal or private loans, and can refinance them together
  • Refinancing federal loans causes borrowers to lose some flexible repayment options
  • Borrowers stand to save a substantial amount of money if they refinance their loans to lower interest rates

Refinance private and federal loans together

So, although you cannot consolidate federal and private loans together, you can refinance them. With the option of lower interest rates, this could save you a substantial sum of money. However, it could also cause you to lose flexible repayment options. Always be sure to read over the conditions of a loan agreement very carefully before signing, and shop around to choose the lender that best fits your financial needs!

Related: Search and compare private student loans

Frequently asked questions

Can subsidized and unsubsidized loans be consolidated together?

Yes, subsidized and unsubsidized loans can be consolidated together! Since they are both federal loans, you can consolidate them and maintain your flexible repayment options. However, be sure to look into how consolidation might impact interest rates.

What loans are eligible for consolidation?

Only federal loans are eligible for consolidation. These include, but are not limited to, Stafford loans, PLUS loans, Perkins loans, supplemental loans, and nursing student loans.

Can consolidated loans be deferred?

Yes, consolidated loans maintain all of the repayment options that federal loans carry. This includes deferment, income-driven repayment plans, and REPAYE plans.

Can I consolidate my loans for PSLF?

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program has a notoriously tricky and particular set of rules. As a result, the answer to this question varies on a case-by-case basis. If consolidation results in a dramatically lower monthly payment, it might disqualify or affect your PSLF eligibility. Make sure to check in with your loan provider and obtain written evidence that consolidation will not interrupt your PSLF plans.