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Under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) and the Federal Direct Loan Program (FDLP), the government guarantees and makes consolidation loans to help borrowers manage their student loan debt. By combining loans into one and extending repayment, monthly repayments are reduced. Unlike other student loans, consolidation loans carry a fixed interest rate. Recently, trends in interest rates and consolidation loan volume have increased overall federal costs, leading Congress to consider cost reduction proposals. Under the Federal Credit Reform Act, the government calculates, for budgetary purposes, the net cost, or "subsidy cost," of extending or guaranteeing credit over the life of loans. Agencies generally reestimate, subsidy costs annually to include actual results and adjust future program estimates. GAO was asked to provide information on the budgetary effects of making consolidation loans exclusively through FDLP. We developed information to answer the following questions: (1) What would be the estimated budgetary effect of providing consolidation loans exclusively through FDLP in fiscal year 2006? (2) To what extent and for what reasons might this estimated budgetary effect change as subsidy costs are reestimated in future years? (3) How might FFELP lenders and borrowers be affected if consolidation loans were made exclusively through FDLP?

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