As for the interest rate, don't expect any discounts. The rate on the new loan will be the weighted average of the original loans, rounded to the nearest one-eighth of a percent. The formula is designed to maintain the underlying cost of your loans.
3. GRADUATE PAYMENTS
If you're entering a field such as law or medicine where you expect your pay to rise relatively quickly, another option is a plan that increases payments over time. Under a graduated repayment plan for federal loans, payments start lower than they would under the standard plan. The payments then increase every two years, over a maximum repayment period of 10 years.
To ensure payments don't rise too dramatically, the highest monthly payment under the plan will be no more than three times the amount of the lowest payment.
There are also options to gradually increase monthly payments with private student loans. But they may not explicitly be called graduated repayment. For example, you might opt to make interest-only payments when you first start repaying the loans.
4. DEFER PAYMENTS
In certain circumstances, graduates can also choose to defer payments. This is an option for borrowers who are continuing on to graduate school, enlisting in the military, unemployed or earning below about $16,000 a year. Anyone on public assistance or who works in public service is also eligible.
If you don't qualify for deferment, you can still apply to postpone payments on federal loans under what's called "forbearance." This may be an option if you're dealing with medical issues or other circumstances that would impair your ability to make payments. Forbearance is decided on a case-by-case basis. You may be able to make interest-only payments during forbearance to keep the total amount you owe from ballooning.