The Federal student loan program has benefited thousands of college students in the forty years since it was introduced. Interest rates for the program have historically been quite competitive, and the program has allowed many people to acquire a college education who otherwise might not have been able to afford one.
At the moment, interest rates on Federal student loans are the lowest in history, but that is about to change. On July 1, 2005, the interest rates on Federal student loans will rise, due to an increase in the price of Treasury, bills, to which the interest rates on student loans are tied.
While an increase in interest rates is seldom viewed as a good thing, knowing about it ahead of can be helpful. Between now and June 30, new graduates or those who have been repaying existing loans can consolidate their student loans at current rates. The rates currently vary, with fixed rates being slightly higher than adjustable rates. Those considering consolidation might wish to convert their loan to a fixed rate. Depending on the amount of the loan, borrowers may extend their loan terms to as long as 30 years.
There is also legislation pending in Congress that would change the Federal loan system so that all future loans are adjustable rate, with no fixed rate option. This will save the government money by not allowing students to lock in long-term loans at low rates during times of increasing interest rates. Students who wish to obtain a fixed rate loan may not have much longer to do so.
Rates will vary slightly from lender to lender, and the market for loan consolidation is quite competitive. Those wishing to consolidate their loans should consider shopping around for the best deal while time permits.