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There are other requirements discussed on the linked page (you must qualify as a new borrower beginning in 2007, not all Direct loans can be repaid under PAYE), but there is one outstanding benefit: if you do succeed in meeting the criteria, you will keep your eligibility even if your financial circumstances improve, eliminating your hardship.
However, if your choice lies between consolidating existing loans while paying more interest over time and falling behind in your individual loan payments, you should take the consolidation loan.As you see, deciding whether consolidation is the right course for you depends not only on your current situation but also on the terms of the new loan. Department of Education (USDOE) has established a well-documented system of rules for federal student loan consolidation, and each private lender has its own guidelines for acceptable consolidation plans.That is a circular definition, but nevertheless a clear one after the two amounts are calculated and compared.Federal loans that are eligible for inclusion in the PAYE calculation are any Direct loans plus certain types of Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL or Stafford) loans, although no Stafford loans can be repaid using PAYE.The concept of student loan consolidation is simple: you apply for one large loan which will be used to pay off all your existing student loans.
That single loan will be easier to manage, because you’ll only make one monthly payment, and because it has a longer term than your old loans that payment will be smaller than the sum of your current payments.