In July of 2006, the interest rate on federal student loans rose. The impact is that these rates will remain high through 2012.Should You Consolidate?If your student loan has a variable rate, it is not such a good idea to consolidate the loan as you could end up paying a higher overall rate of interest. If you have a fixed rate, however, consolidation would be a viable option.The Benefits of Consolidating Your Student Loan* Payment – you will only have one payment to make each month and won’t have to keep track of individual payments and interest rates.* Reduced worry – you will no longer live in dread of the phone ringing and hearing the voice of a creditor on the other end.* Emotional savings – you will benefit from a reduced preoccupation over paying back your loan.* More options when making payments – when repaying a student loan consolidation, you will typically be extended a higher degree of leniency when making your repayments. This can be of great importance when you have to adhere to a strict budget.The Down Side of Student Loan ConsolidationYour new loan amount will most likely become larger. Many people do not realize that an increase in the amount of the loan is one of the consequences of going down this avenue. This is because by consolidating your loan you will be adding more years to it. You might be able to pay less every month, but it is at a cost. You could wind up paying much more over time.Additionally, you are not guaranteed to be accepted for this type of consolidation even if it is a simple application process.More HintsIf you are interested in consolidating your student loans, now is the time to do so. The result of waiting could be that you end up with a much higher interest rate.Make sure you have sufficient knowledge of the process before engaging, and certainly before committing to a new loan. Take the time to read the small print of any agreements to fully understand your obligations before signing.Assess various interest rates offered, and resist the temptation to opt for the first good one you come across. With a little persistence and patience, you will likely find a good interest rate that accommodates your financial need.Opting for the lowest repayment plan you can find should, ironically, be your last choice. If you are in a position to make higher payments, do so. That will reduce the length of your loan and improve your financial situation more quickly. By selecting a lower repayment, you might have more money to spend every month, but you’ll wind up paying much more for your loan over the long haul.