Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 16, 2023

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Locking in loan rates

Summer is in full swing and most college students are spending their break working to help pay for the ever rising cost of higher education.

But even if your idea of working this summer includes little more than a weekly shower, there is something every student with federal loans can do to at least save themselves some money, possibly even thousands of dollars.

On July 1 the interest rates on direct student loans and parent plus loans are set to rise to their highest rate in six years, according to the Congressional group, the Education and the Workforce Committee.

“With college costs continuing to skyrocket, one critical way that students can reduce their education debt is by consolidating their outstanding federal student loans,” said Democratic Rep. George Miller. “It is vital that students consolidate by July 1 to save money, potentially thousands of dollars, easing the financial burdens that can limit their career choices.”

Senior Andy Miller is a prime example of the type of borrower the committee is trying to reach.

He expects to graduate with about $20,000 in direct loans and had no idea that the current rates were only good through June 30.

“I didn’t hear about [the rates rising] but now that I know I probably will [consolidate.] Whatever is cheapest,” he said.

According to the University’s financial aid office, the rate on direct student loans and parent plus loans is set to rise almost 2 percent, topping out at 6.8 percent and 7.9 percent respectively.

By consolidating loans now, students will be converting them from the current variable rate, which is subject to change every year, and locking in a fixed rate as low as 4.75 percent over the life of their loan.

The Democratic members of the House Education and Workforce Committee estimate that doing this will save students like Miller nearly $3,500 by the time they pay off their loans.

Dawn Vollmar, assistant director of Student Financial Aid at the University, said she would strongly urge students to consolidate their loans now.

“As we know right now, rates are going up and they’re going to continue to go up. I don’t foresee interest rates going down again,” she said.

Another reason students should consolidate now is that after July 1, any current student who does not consolidate their loans will not be eligible for consolidation again until after they graduate, she said.

Former students with outstanding loans are also eligible for consolidation, even if they have already started repaying them.

Something students and graduates may have trouble decyphering is what types of loans they can consolidate. While many different types of loans exist, only certain types can be combined in a direct consolidation loan.

All direct loans and Federal Family Education Loans are eligible. Perkins loans and HHS/Health Professions Loans may be added as long as one direct or FFEL loan is includedin the consolidation.

Students with alternative loans cannot combine them with federal loans and must go through their individual lenders to consolidate those loans. These loans are also subject to different rules than federal loans – so students should check with their lenders to see how their loans will be affected.

Vollmar encourages University students to call the Office of Financial Aid with any general questions concerning loans. But to actually consolidate their loans or get specific information, students will need to go to the Direct Consolidation Loans Web site,, or call their toll free number, 800-557-7392.

Due to the continually rising costs of higher education, House Democrats have also started an online forum where students and parents can sound off about their experiences paying for college. Some are also using the forum to provide suggestions on how they think Congress could make college more affordable.

“Democrats will continue to fight to make college an affordable option for all students who want a higher education, and have sponsored our online forum to make the voices of all students and families facing the challenges of how to pay for college heard,” Rep. Miller said.

Editor’s note: All forms needed for consolidation can be found at the Direct Consolidation Loans Web site. To participate in the forum students can go to

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