Different Federal student loans have different rights. The Perkins loan is an under-understood (and under-appreciated) federal loan that has a lot more rights and benefits than people might realize.
- It has a lower interest rate, generally at about 5%
- You don’t need a high credit score to get one
- You don’t need a co-signer to get one
- The government pays your interest while you’re in school
- It is serviced by your school, meaning you don’t have to deal with the large bureaucracy at the U.S. Department of Education
- It has a longer grace period (the “free” period after graduation) at nine months. That’s three months longer than Stafford loans, and Grad PLUS loans don’t even have a grace period.
- You can cancel the loan if you work in certain professions. This is, arguably, the biggest benefit of Perkins loans. For those with eligible occupations—for example, certain types of teachers, certain types of medical professionals, and certain types of lawyers—you can get your Perkins loan completed cancelled. Cancelled— as in, you don’t have to repay it.
If you have a Perkins loan, that’s great news. It is one of the best student loans you can have. Keep in mind that if you areconsidering consolidating your federal student loans and you want to include the Perkins loan, you will lose the post-graduation benefits of the Perkins loan–namely the extended grace period, the lower interest rate, and the cancellation rights. Make sure you know whether or not it makes sense to include your Perkins loan in the consolidation.