The key terms for federal consolidation loans do not vary by lender: no application or origination fees are allowed and there are no prepayment penalties.Federal law sets the period of time for paying back the loans and sets a ceiling on the interest rate.
You should do enough research to be able to negotiate the most favorable terms.Public and private loans can't be combined, but if you have multiple private loans, you can consolidate those, too; contact your lending institutions to find out how.The downside is that your grace period will end once your consolidation loan goes through.If you've already been paying off your loans for a while, you can consolidate at any time.You also won't be able to get an in-school loan deferment, because both of you would have to be enrolled to qualify. Although your existing loans will be packaged as one larger loan, your subsidized and unsubsidized loans are grouped so that you won't be held responsible for extra interest on subsidized loans.
With loan serialization, a single lender buys your student loans and "stacks" them; you maintain your original terms and interest rates, but pay the loans off one at a time, starting with the loan with the worst interest rate.
(There are no prepayment penalties for student consolidation loans.)If you have only a couple more years or a few thousand more dollars to go till you pay off your student loans, consolidation is probably more hassle than it's worth.
Switching to a new lending institution might eliminate any benefits you've earned, like lower interest rates for on-time payments over the years.
Private consolidation lenders, on the other hand, are not subject to those terms and may include variable rates and any number of fees.
What's more, some benefits of a federal consolidation loan, such as interest subsidies on deferred loans, are not available on private loans.
To do so, you'll both have to agree to assume full responsibility for payment of the debt.