Cornerstone Student Loans Review

Get reviews of the Cornerstone Student Loan Servicer and learn all about their process, refinancing servicers, pros and cons and more.

Updated by Sharan Kumar on 6th July 2019

CornerStone Education Loan Services is one of the federal student loan servicers. They have more than 35 years of experience in the market.

The company is run by the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority. They work with students from all around the United States to help these borrowers by providing them services to repay their federal student loans. They aim not only to provide finances for higher education but also educate borrowers to save and borrow wisely.

They can also be your servicer even if you are not in close proximity to Utah. In case your loans have been handed to CornerStone for service, this article will help you understand everything you can expect from them.


List of Contents


Cornerstone Education Loan Services

As a federal student loan servicer, Cornerstone is majorly responsible for processing your student loan paperwork, collection, and management of the payments that you make towards your federal student loans. They will provide customer services for the same.

In addition to that, Cornerstone also indulges in other essential activities that are expected from a servicer. This includes helping students get rid of their student loans. Hence as a student loan borrower, you should get a better understanding of the many services which can be extended to you by your loan servicers.

The following is an outline of the many services that CornerStone provides.

  • Indulges in helping student loan borrowers to manage their dues

  • Aims to help borrowers move to a new payment plan if they choose to

  • Aims to help borrowers understand if they are eligible for a student loan discharge or forgiveness

  • Aims to help borrowers realize their options for deferment and forbearance in any event where they are unable to afford to make payments

Different types of student loans serviced by Cornerstone

When most student loan servicers tend to service both federal and private student loans, Cornerstone only offers to work with your federal student loans.

This also means if you have any of the following types of loans, Cornerstone might be your servicer.

  • Perkins loans

  • Direct Subsidized Loans

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans

  • Direct Consolidation Loans

  • Direct PLUS Loans


Interest rates

If you have some federal student loans that are serviced by Cornerstone education loan services, it is also important for you to understand that Cornerstone is not the one responsible for the interest rates that are set on your loans.

These interest rates that you pay for on your student loans are set by the U.S. federal government. This means that Cornerstone will not have any say in the matter of changing your student loan interest rates.

If you are not sure of the interest rates that you pay on your student loans serviced by Cornerstone, you should find it by following one of the methods mentioned below.

  • Log in to your account at Cornerstone's website and find your way to loan details

  • Contact a Cornerstone student loan representative and ask them

  • Have a look at your monthly student loan statement

  • Log in to the National student loan database (NSLDS) and check up on your student loan details. 

Interest Rate Deduction with Cornerstone

Since Cornerstone does not set the interest rates on your student loans, you have very limited options to reduce it through them.

If you want a 0.25% reduction in the interest rate you could sign up for automatic payments with Cornerstone. However, this does not automatically guarantee the reduction but it makes you qualify for it. It is also dependent on the type of student loans that you currently possess. A measly 0.25% might not mean much to you but with respect to the total loan amount, it might turn out to save you money in hundreds and thousands over the life of your loan.

For example, let us imagine you have student loans that amount to $25,000 with an interest rate of 4.5%. Over the timeline of 10 years on a standard payment, you will have to pay a total of about $6,091 in terms of interest. If you dropped the rate by say 0.25% you would end up paying only about $5,731 in terms of interest meaning that you would save close to $360 dollars.

If you are still looking for some more interest rate reduction, you will have to consider student loan refinancing with some other private lender.


Repayment Plans

Repayment plans that are offered by Cornerstone are as followed.

1 - Standard repayment

This is the repayment plan that you will be put on by default, if not mentioned otherwise. This plan comes with a fixed amount on a monthly which is meant to pay off your loan amount during the specified loan term.

2 - Graduated Repayment

Here you are required to make smaller payments in the beginning so as to not burden you early on in your school life. The amount of monthly payment, however, increases as time goes on in order to adjust the loan amount so that your loan amount is paid off by the end of the loan term.

3 - Extended Repayment

Here you will have a reduced payment on a monthly basis but you will be paying for a longer duration. This leads to a much higher amount being paid over time as you will be accumulating interest over this extended period which will get capitalized each month.

4 - Income-Based repayment plan or (IBR)

In this plan, if your loan was first disbursed to you on or after the date July 1st of 2014, you will pay about 10% of your discretionary income. You will be making these payments for a duration of 20 years, after which any balance that remains can be forgiven.

If your loan was first disbursed to you before the 1st of July 2014, you will pay about 15% of your discretionary income. You will be making these payments for a duration of 25 years, after which any balance that remains can be forgiven.

5 - Income-Contingent repayment plan or (ICR)

In this plan, you will pay either 20% of your after taxed income or the amount that you might pay on any repayment plan that has a fixed payment over the time of 12 years which is remade according to your income, whichever is lower. After 25 years of making these payments, if any of the balance remains it will be forgiven. Keep in mind that this is considered taxable income and you will have to pay taxes on the amount that is forgiven later on.

6 - Pay As You Earn (PAYE) 

In this plan, you will be paying an amount equal to 10% of your discretionary income but not any more than the amount you would end up paying on a standard repayment plan. After about 20 years you can have your remaining loan amount forgiven.

These repayment plans all have their own eligibility clauses separately and are made available to those borrowers that have federal student loans.


Methods of Payment Offered

If you do have Cornerstone as your loan servicer, the following are the payment methods offered. You may choose the one which is most convenient for you.

Online

You are required to have an account through Cornerstone's online portal. You can make payments online anytime. Cornerstone then helps you by saving your bank information to make it easier for you to continue making payments in the future. They help you in scheduling payments for the future too. So you will never miss any payment deadlines.

Although Cornerstone currently has no mobile application of its own, the website is very mobile-friendly, unlike many other servicers.

Direct Deductions

When you do not want to make repeated manual payments every month you have the option to sign up for direct deduction. It is essentially an automatic payment option where your monthly payments will be debited automatically from your checking account. You might also be eligible for a 0.25% reduction in your interest rate. This has the potential to save you a lot of money over the life of the loan.

Phone

To make a payment over the phone, you have to call ConrnerStone over the phone and inform them that you want to make a payment. This facility is available from Monday through Friday during Cornerstone's regular working hours. When you opt for paying through the phone, you are able to schedule your payments up to a period of 60 days in advance. Your payments can be deducted from your account within a period of 1-2 days from when you make the call.

Check mail

Here you are also able to pay through the slowest method being the traditional mail. Although Cornerstone recommends that you mail in your check at least 5-7 days before your due date to make sure the payment is received on time. You are also suggested to write down your account number when you send in the mail in order to make it easier and faster for them to apply the funds without any mistake.


How do your payments take effect?

You need to understand how Cornerstone processes your payments, and how they manage between regular payments and extra payments.

Usually, your monthly regular payments will mostly be applied to the fees you might have on the loans that are related to your account, and if there is any interest that is accumulated on the loan. Whatever is remaining after that will be used to pay for the principal of the student loan.

That said, if you get into an income-driven repayment plan, payments will first be taken to pay for the interest that is accumulated on your loan principal and then the fees and later to the principal. 


Unable to make your payments?

If the event that you are unable to make the monthly payment on time, do not fret. There are a couple of things that you can do with Cornerstone.

1 - Due date changes

Just changing your due date can be enough to help you make regular timely payments. In case you find your due date falling on the same day with the due dates of some other monthly payments, you have the option to change it. You can put in a request asking to shift your due date to some other day in which you have lesser obligations. This will enable you to make your monthly payments with lesser stress.

To have your due date changed, all that is required of you is to contact Cornerstone's customer service department on the phone number 900-663-1662.

For you to be able to change your due date, you will have to satisfy the conditions stated below.

  • Being in repayment

  • Have a history of timely monthly payments

  • Choose a date that falls between the 1st and the 28th of a month for your new due date

2 - Have your payments reduced 

If you still are unable to find it easier to pay back your student loans after changing the due date, do not fret. As Cornerstone is a federal loan servicer, it is obligated to help you, by law, to understand the options that you have to switch to a different repayment plan. You only have to contact them and request for a change in repayment plans.


Deferment and Forbearance

If any student is facing severe financial hardship, they can decide to place their student loans in deferment or forbearance. These are two options that are available for all borrowers of federal student loans.

Deferment is a process through which you are able to stop your monthly payments for a short duration on your federal student loans. If you have federal student loans, you are able to qualify for deferment by satisfying some requirements which are stated below.

  • Being enrolled for at least half time as a student
  • For up to 3 years if you are experiencing financial hardship such as losing a job

  • When you are put on active military duty, a military operation or a national emergency

  • You become disabled or are required to be caring for someone who is disabled

  • You are on leave from work because of pregnancy

  • While you are taking care of your newborn child or a newly adopted child

Whether you are required to pay the interest that accumulated on the loan during the period of deferment depends completely on whether your loan is a subsidized loan or not. If they happen to be subsidized loans, the federal government will pay the interest. If they are not subsidized, you have to either pay for the interest or it will end up being capitalized.

Student loan forbearance differs from that of deferment as you are responsible for all the interest that accumulated regardless of it being subsidized or not.

Before you consider going through with student loan forbearance or deferment, you should go do some research and find out if your interest will accumulate or not. Also, know how each option will end up costing you over the period of the loan. Most often, other than any true economic or financial hardships, you should find that an Income-Driven Repayment plan might end up becoming a better choice than any sort of forbearance and deferment.


How do I get in touch with Cornerstone?

If you are looking to get in touch with Cornerstone to discuss your student loan repayment, we have a couple of options for you to consider. By fax, mail, phone or even directly if you are close to salt lake city, Utah.

Phone and fax

Here you can call them up on the number 900-663-1662. Any sort of Paperwork and other documents can be sent to them through fax to 901-366-5122.
Their operating timings for the call center range from Monday to Thursday, beginning from 6 am all the way to 7 pm, and on Fridays from 6 am through 5 pm.

Mail

If you plan on getting in touch through the ail you can do so through their mail address as follows -

P.O. Box 145122
Salt Lake City, UT
84114-5122

If you'd like to talk to them in-person

In case you are in proximity to Salt lake city, Utah and you'd like to meet any of the representatives of Cornerstone, you should be able to do so by visiting the address mentioned below. Their operating hours for the walk-ins from Monday through Friday last from 8 am through 5 pm.

The address is as given below.

Board of Regents Building, The Gateway
60 South 400 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1284

If you'd like to reach out to them through social media 

They do not just use their social media for the purpose of distribution of valuable informative content and publishing them in the purpose of educating the borrowers, you are also able to get in touch with the Cornerstone representatives through the social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and more.

They usually have a response time of less than a couple of hours on Facebook.


Conclusion

Cornerstone Education Loan services as a student loan servicer have experience in the field for the greater part of the past 35 years in the purpose of helping borrowers manage and eventually pay off their loans.

Regardless of what is mentioned here, there are hundreds of reasons that college graduates have their student loans serviced by Cornerstone might end up refinancing or consolidating their student loans to another lender.

Pros and Cons of CornerStone

Borrowers do not make the decision of who their student loan servicer company should be. This decision is made by the federal government.

Even so, it is very important that you as the borrower, have this information so as to help you make the right decision as to whether you must stay and continue with Cornerstone or consider changing your federal student loan servicer to some other lender by refinancing them.

Also, you need to know what a servicer is eligible to do and what they aren't allowed to.

As and when it comes to any financial company, Cornerstone has so many reviews from so many students from across the country. Some are good and some are bad. While many of their customers are mostly happy with their responsiveness and customer service, many others have had experienced otherwise.

Pros

1 - The need for financial literacy 

The Cornerstone's website offers a lot of information that is designed to help those borrowers to get to know the student loans better and the variety in terms of options that are available to them. Also, there is a wide library of information for the borrowers that are also active members of the armed forces.

Cornerstone has put in the time and effort to get content on their website regarding the financial basics such as credit, general financial literacy and budgeting and also have added a few calculators and some games to make it more user-friendly.

2 - Option for Direct Debit 

You are eligible to sign up for automatic payments to make it easier to manage the monthly payments. You even get your interest rate possibly reduced by 0.25% point.

3 - Ways to get in touch with Cornerstone 

Other than just the usual ways of contacting them through a phone call, email, regular mail, and fax. You are also able to get in touch with the Cornerstone representatives through their social channels.

Cons

Although Cornerstone is great in most places as a servicer, there are a few places where they can make improvements.

1 - Customer service 

Even though some of the borrowers seem to be happy with Cornerstone's customer service, there is quite a number of negative reviews. Many of them state the lack of a clear line of interaction between the company and the customers regarding the late payments and the collections. There are although mixed with many other reviews which are mentioning amazing customer service.

2 - Their lack of any sort of online form for submission 

Although some servicers have forms online that enables users to submit them online, Cornerstone sadly does not seem to be on this bandwagon. If you require any sort of deferment, change in a repayment plan, forbearance or any sort of services other than the ones mentioned above, you will be needed to get a print-out of the forms and send them through the mail. Although this can be a little inconvenient, it is still alright in some aspects.


FAQ's

  What are the benefits available for the borrower?


The best borrower benefit offered by the Direct Loan Program is the 0.25% interest rate reduction on your student loan payments if you sign up for their automatic payments. This is the most notable borrower benefit. Other benefits also include the reduction in the loan origination fee for making payments on time for 12 consecutive months.

If you do fail to make a payment on time or within 6 days of the due date within the first 12 months, the origination fee will then be added back to the principal of your loan. If you have any questions regarding the borrower benefits you should get in touch with CornerStone directly.

  How long would you take to pay off your loans?


Well, the amount of time you would take to pay off your loans also depends on the amount that is borrowed initially, your interest rate that you got with the loan, and your repayment period. Give their student loan payoff calculator a go to get an idea of how long before you pay off your loans.

  Why has my payment not gone towards the principal?


When they receive a payment, it is first applied to the accumulated interest and next to any other fees regarding the loan and then to the principal.

  Where do I see how much is already paid towards my loans?


You will need to log in to your account access and then go to the payments and billing and click on the payment history button. Here you will be able to see how much of your payments have gone towards paying for the principal, the interest and the fees, also you will get the total amount that you have paid. You can also have a detailed look at each of the payments that you have made.

  In case I pay my whole loan back in a matter of 120 days of disbursement, will this cancel my loan?


If you do successfully pay back your loan either entirely or partially within a span of 120 days of the loan amount is disbursed or is credited to your account by the school, or directly to you, in such a case you are not required to pay the interest or the loan fee on the part of the loan that you are returning within 120 days of the date that part of your loan is disbursed.

If you got any up-front interest rebate on your loan, the rebate will not apply for that part of the loan that is being returned. Your loan will also be compensated to eliminate any sort of interest, loan fee, or any rebate amount that would apply to the amount of the loan that is being returned.

  I already made a payment but do not see it anywhere on my account?


Since your payment might still be on its way to CornerStone. It usually takes them about 30 days to receive payments from a previous servicer. Once it is received, it will then be applied to your account.

  What differs between forbearance and a deferment?


Since both of them help you postpone payments on your loans. Where they differ is that a deferment is where the government pays the interest on your subsidized loan but with forbearance, interest will accumulate on all of your loan types.

The other difference is that deferment is an entitlement, you can receive it only if you qualify, forbearance is based on choice and is applied based on the business decisions taken at cornerstone.

  How can I postpone my payments?


You are able to postpone your payments through deferment or forbearance. You can also take a deferment/forbearance quiz through their site after logging in, after which you are able to apply for one of the two. The forms are also made available there or you can call them up and have the forms mailed to you.

  What is this paid ahead status on my account?


In case your account is current and you make a payment that is more than your required monthly payment amount then the extra amount that you paid will be used to satisfy any future bills.

  Is being in a paid ahead status bad for me?


Although being in a paid ahead status does make you ineligible for any forbearance or deferments, but since your loans are already in a paid ahead status, you should usually not need any of these options. you should be able to skip ahead since you have already paid for the bills that are coming up without needing to worry about having to postpone any payments. As soon as your paid ahead status falls, you will be able to avail a postponement of payment option again.

In case you are in a paid ahead status you will also be unable to change the due date. Once it falls off, you can change your due date by just giving CornerStone a call.