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The lenders seem to be telling me that since I have consolidated through Direct Loans, they are able to take over my loan and offer these reductions. (something they were not able to do a year ago)

Any truth to this? Or am I just more confused?

Under the Act that funds Student Loans (I think its the Higher Education Act, if you have all your loans with one company (a single lender), that single lender has the right of refusal to sell the loans. And most refuse. :D

I got those offers as well. When I called to ask about it, their interest in me waned to non-existant when I told them i'd already consolidated.

FWIW, most people on this board have had excellent luck with Direct Loan. It's all the other ones that are so crappy.
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