The federal government offers various loans to the citizens of the United States to sustain the rising costs of education and living. Although, there are a large number of lending institutions and financial companies operating in the financial market, the federal government continues to remain the primary source of acquiring loans. There are a variety of student loans backed by the federal government and the most popular loans include Stafford loans, Plus loans, and Perkins loans. Stafford loans are offered to both undergraduates as well as graduate students to facilitate them to enroll themselves in universities and colleges. Many non-students face the difficulty of repaying loans on time, as they may also have to repay other loans in addition to the education loans. They turn to debt consolidation loans as a way out of their immediate woes.Typically, a credit check is essential for non-students to qualify for a debt consolidation program. However, a credit check is not required for non-students applying through a secondary lender. There are no fees charged to non-students for applying for loan consolidation. Non-students have the option of consolidating their loans under the federal programs such as Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) and the Federal Direct Loan Program or through private lenders. The non-students have to meet the eligibility criteria laid by the respective consolidating companies to qualify for debt consolidation. The private lending institutions may have less rigid eligibility criteria but have higher rates. As a result, many non-students opt for the FFEL and direct loan programs for the countless privileges they offer.Many financial consultants stress on the importance of considering various factors such as incentives and repayment options offered before selecting a debt consolidation company. Most financial companies provide various incentives to encourage borrowers to make timely payments. This form of arrangement is highly beneficial for both the parties, as the lender is assured of regular payments and the borrowers get discounts on their loans. Apart from providing loans, these companies also provide other consolidating services such as credit counseling, debt management and guidance to select a loan consolidating plan. These loan consolidation plans are devised after a careful analysis of a borrower’s paying capacity, the loan amount and the borrower’s credit report.It is crucial for borrowers to verify the credibility of the consolidating company for which they can consult the Better Business Bureau. Many fraudulent companies lure borrowers by promising to provide consolidating services even for a poor credit history. They may charge upfront fees for the services and simply abscond with the money.Some lenders offer principal reduction incentives as a part of their federal loan consolidation plan. Typically, this reduction is applied to the principal leading to reduction in the loan balance. As a rule, all lending institutions have certain parameters to determine the eligibility of the borrowers for principal reduction. The most common eligibility criteria are the stipulated number of on-time payments. Principal reductions do not affect the interest rate in any way.Federal loans offer amazing benefits such as tax-deductible interests and deferment, which are continued even after loan consolidation. As a result, financial consultants stress the importance of consolidating federal and private loans separately to avail the federal benefits.