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Borrowers who graduated before 2010, when the government shifted to Direct Loans, for example, need to consolidate their loans to access the latest income-driven plan, Revised Pay As You Earn.

Consolidation is often the first step borrowers must take to enroll in some of the government’s more flexible repayment plans, including income-driven plans, many of which are restricted to borrowers with Direct Loans.A loan that combines two or more federal education loans into a single loan. Department of Education and does not require borrowers to pay an application fee.A Direct Consolidation Loan allows the borrower to make a single monthly payment. A Direct Consolidation Loan allows borrowers to lower the number of loan payments they have to make each month, combining them into a single payment.For example, if you have Parent PLUS loans for a child and individual loans that you took out for your own education, you shouldn’t consolidate them, says Adam Minsky, a lawyer in Boston who specializes in student debt.That’s because Parent PLUS loans are not eligible for several types of income-driven repayment, and they carry that restriction with them in a consolidation, causing your student loans to lose those options, as well. Consolidation can affect your eligibility for forgiveness.