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Yeah, I agree with melmaque, that's your remedy. I would get the paperwork going with Direct on Monday (or Sunday at the online site through www.ed.gov , then Direct Loans, then consolidation).

You didn't say if you have any interest subsidies with the loans. You don't want to be in default, because I think at that point you lose your ability to defer. You have to spend time (12 months) in a repayment program, and then they "rehabilitate" the loan as good.

Melmaque is absolutely right about the "income contingent repayment". You are only obligated under Direct (and with your own lender usually) to pay a percentage of income on the note every year. I remember in my first, tough year out of graduate school, the amount was calculated as $29 per month. (I had a deferment so I didn't even have to pay that.)

Messing with student loans is tricky, and best to be avoided! As a previous post related (from NPrins was it?), it's the collection charges. They'll tack on some crazy number that'll make you feel like you really should have straightened the matter out much sooner. And plus, they do have that statutory power to collect---that a credit card lender has to spend scads of legal bill dollars to obtain. The government can just go right in.

You are much better off strategizing here with the rest of us on how to structure your repayment path in a way that's fair to whosever lending, and yet lets you have something of your own money too!

Good luck.
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