How Long Does It Take to Consolidate Federal Student Loans?

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By Mark Kantrowitz

June 24, 2020

Consolidating federal student loans is not immediate. Although it usually takes a few weeks to obtain a Federal Direct Consolidation loan, sometimes it can take months. 

Consolidation typically takes 30-45 days. 

How to Consolidate Federal Loans

Consolidating federal student loans involves three main steps:

  • Confirming the loan payoff amounts on the old loans
  • Confirming that the old loans are eligible to be included in a consolidation loan
  • Making a new loan to pay off the old loans

To get the information needed to pay off the old loans, the U.S. Department of Education must send the old lenders a request for Loan Verification Certificates (LVC). The regulations require the old lenders to complete and return the LVCs within 10 business days, but sometimes it takes longer.

If the old loans are all Direct Loans, it can take less time, as the U.S. Department of Education already has the loan payoff amounts in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).

After the U.S. Department of Education receives the LVCs, approval of the application for a consolidation loan and paying off the old loans can take an additional two weeks. 

What’s Next?

Until the loan servicers for both the old and new loans tell you that the process is complete, you should continue making payments on the old loans. You will receive letters from both the old and new loan servicers telling you to send payments to the new loan servicer. 

Any payments you make to the old loan servicer soon after the consolidation is complete will be forwarded to the new loan servicer. If you previously signed up for auto-debit with the old loan servicer, you will need to cancel it and sign up for auto-debit again with the new loan servicer.

You can add new loans to an existing consolidation loan within 180 days after the consolidation loan was originated. 

A good place to start:

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