Public Service Announcement
If you are a law student, pay attention.
Today, I went to the BALSA meeting where a dude from Graduate Leverage spoke. There's a billion things I didn't know about financial aid loan consolidation. And I'm anal with money--I've already got my undergrad loans consolidated with crazy borrower benefits, I'm all about intelligent use of debt, etc.
I had no idea about the single lender rule.
ATTENTION 2Ls: If you have used the same lender for your staffords and undergraduate loans, get a new lender for at least one loan in 3L. It may save you lots of money in the long run by allowing you to consolidate with anyone instead of requiring that your single lender has the right of first refusal.
3L's -- Don't forget to consolidate before July 1, 2005 -- get a lock on your rate before that date. Make them promise that they will allow you to lock the rate before July 1, 2005 (when it'll be pegged to the 90 day T-bill rate for the 3rd week in May, which is almost guaranteed to be higher than last May.) Also, it's too late for you to get around the single lender rule, but you should register with Graduate Leverage to see if you want in on their collectively bargained consolidation program, which given the debt/risk profile of the participants, should be better than anything you can find off the shelf.
Unfortunately for us 2Ls and later grads, everything is up for reauthorization, so we won't actually know what the law is that governs our consolidation program 'til it's passed. If you've got a diety on your side, I suggest you ask for some help...