I thought THE was good for consolidation? Is it really also the best lender? What are the benefits that make it better than Wachovia, for example, that gives you rebates on your balance at three intervals?
I dont know much about Wachovia's stafford loans. But as you say, THE is excellent with consolidation. If you go with, ie Wachovia for your staffords, and all your educational (incl undergrad) were through Wachovia, then when it comes down to consolidation in 3-4 years you will not be able to switch to another lender (ie THE).
Only those who have loans through various stafford lenders are allowed to "shop around" to pick and choose any consolidation lender that they want.
THE/Northstar used to have a calculator in which it compared how you much end up payin in the long run with their program vs. other programs/set ups. It was great -- I used it years and years ago to help me decide on THE because with THE bonus being applied to your principle, your really do end up saving thousands and thousands of dollars in the long run, though 1% may not even sound like a lot.