When it comes to student loans, most people think of student loan servicers (the companies that send you the bills) as their enemy. While the emails and envelopes that scream “student loans” may create anxiety, the real truth is that a conversation with your servicer can have big benefits, like helping you lower your payment or qualify for loan forgiveness.
To get the benefits you need to be prepared for the chat. Here are 4 key answers to the big questions that will help you get the most out of a call to your servicer.
Q: WHO IS MY LOAN SERVICER?
A: Before you can call, you need to make sure you’re talking to the right company. Today, there are hundreds of companies who aim to defraud student loan borrowers. To make sure you’re talking to the right company about your federal student loans, log in to Federal Student Aid to verify your servicer and get up to date contact information.
If you already know the name of your servicer, here’s a quick list of numbers and websites you can use to start the conversation:
- Nelnet | www.nelnet.com | 1-888-486-4722
- Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc. | www.mygreatlakes.org | 1-800-236-4300
- Navient | www.navient.com | 1-800-722-1300
- FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA) | www.myfedloan.org | 1-800-699-2908
- MOHELA | www.mohela.com | 1-888-866-4352
- HESC/EdFinancial | www.edfinancial.com/DL | 1-855-337-6884
- CornerStone | www.mycornerstoneloan.org | 1-800-663-1662
- Granite State – GSMR | www.gsmr.org | 1-888-556-0022
- OSLA Servicing | www.osla.org | 1-866-264-9762
- Debt Management and Collections System | www.myeddebt.com | 1-800-621-3115
Q: WHAT SHOULD I ASK MY STUDENT LOAN SERVICER?
A: If you’re up to date on your student loan payments, you need to ask “What are my other repayment plan options?”
If you’re not current on your student loan payments, scroll down for more helpful info.
Your Federal Student Loan Repayment Plan Options
Your repayment plan controls your monthly payment and the amount of time it will take to pay off your student loan.
When your student loans enter repayment, you are put on the Standard Repayment Plan.
This 10-year plan does help you payoff your student loans faster than others, but if you’re struggling with payments there are other options that may lower your monthly payment or decrease your repayment. Some of these even help you qualify for forgiveness.
Here are the federal student loan repayment options offered today:
Q: WHAT IF I CAN’T AFFORD MY MONTHLY PAYMENTS?
A: If you are at a point where you can no longer afford your monthly loan payments, you need to contact your loan servicer to see what option is best for you. In these instances, some helpful options include asking about deferment, forbearance, or Income-Based Repayment Plans. Your loan servicer can help you find the option that is best for you so that you avoid falling into delinquency or default.
Q: WHAT IF MY LOANS ARE PRIVATE OR HAVE BEEN REFINANCED? AND, HOW WILL I KNOW?
A: Federal student loans are funded by the federal government, while private student loans are originated by a private lender (such as a bank or credit union).
There are three easy ways to figure if your loan is federal or private.
- First, check the above federal servicer list. If your loan company (e.g. the name on your statement) doesn’t appear there, it is likely a private loan.
- Another indicator that your loans are private is that private loan information will not show up when you login to studentloans.gov.
- Lastly, if you’re still unsure you can get information on your private loans by requesting a free credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus.
Note that private loans are sometimes sold to different lenders and federal loan servicers may change. If this happens, you will receive information from your new lender/servicer through a letter in the mail.
Private and refinanced loans sometimes have fewer repayment options, but if you’re having trouble making your payment a proactive call is still your best way to head off a negative hit to your credit score.
WANT HELP FIGURING IT ALL OUT?
Today, hundreds of employers are offering student loan benefits that help untangle the complexities around student loan repayment. If you want to request student loan help from your company, fill out the form below and we will reach out to your employer.