CornerStone Student Loans - What Borrowers Need to Know
Cornerstone education loan services one of the federal student loan servicers that have experience for more than the past 35 years.
Although the company is run through by Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority, Cornerstone works with students from all over the United States to help student borrowers service their federal student loans which are enough to say that they can also be your servicer, even if you are in no proximity to Utah.
Keep reading if you are interested to know more about Cornerstone's activities and if they will be able to help you fruitfully complete paying your federal student loans off.
List of Contents
What exactly are the activities of Cornerstone Education Loan services?
As they are 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 student loan.
In addition to what is above, Cornerstone also indulges in other activities that are essentially required from them with regard to the federal government, most of which are regarding helping students get rid of their student loans, hence as a student loan borrower, you should try to get an understanding of the options that are available to you.
As it is, Cornerstone basically -
Indulges in helping student loan borrowers to manage and help them change due dates
Also supports other sorts of Federal income-driven repayment plans including the standard repayment plan
Aims to help borrowers understand if they are eligible for a student loan discharge or forgiveness
Tries 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 -
Direct Subsidized Loans
Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Direct Consolidation Loans
Direct PLUS Loans
How to make your payments
If you do have Cornerstone as your loan servicer then you have a couple of payment options for you to proceed with and these are as follows
Here you are required to have an account through Cornerstone's online portal, you are able to make payments online anytime. Cornerstone then helps you by saving your bank information so as to make it easier for you to continue making payments in the future and schedule payments too in the future, so you never happen to miss any payment deadlines.
Although Cornerstone currently has no application of its own, the website is made in such a way it is very mobile friendly, which also makes it different in the same way from many other servicers.
Here in the sense when you do not want to make repeated payments every month you might want to sign up for this which is essentially an automatic payment option, where your monthly payments will automatically be debited from your checking account on a monthly basis. Also, you might be eligible for a 0.25% reduction in your interest rate in case your student loan type qualifies for it. Which in eventuality might end up saving you a lot of money in the time that you pay your loan over the years.
Here you are able to call them up and then pay over the phone 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 well before you make them, up to a period of 60 days before you plan on making them, Your payments will be deducted from your account within a period of 1-2 days from when you make the call.
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 so as to make it easier and faster for them to apply the funds to the right account.
How do your payments take effect?
You need to understand how Cornerstone makes your payments and applies them if they are taken as regular payments or 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 that is remaining is then used to pay for the principal of the student loan.
That said, if you get into an income drive 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?
There are a couple of things that you can do with Cornerstone in the event that you are not able to make payments with them so as to make your student loan repayment more manageable.
Due date changes
Occasionally just changing your due date can be enough to help you make proper timely payments so that it is easier for you to manage your student loans. In case you find that your due date falls along with the due dates of some other monthly payments. You can put in a request asking to change the due date in such a way that you get it on a date when you have lesser obligations so as to be able to deal with it more easily.
To have your due date changed all that is required of you is to contact Cornerstone's customer service department on the following number 900-663-1662.
For you to be able to change your due date you will be needing to satisfy some conditions such as
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.
Have your payments reduced -
Here 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 as a federal loan servicer is obligated to help you by law in understanding the options that you have for opting or switching to a different payment plan.
Repayment plans that are offered by Cornerstone
Standard repayment -
This is the same payment plan that you will be put on by default if not mentioned otherwise after availing your loan and consists of you paying a specific fixed amount on a monthly basis all through the life of your loan.
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 and increase as time goes to be able to adjust according to when you start working so as to make larger payments, keep in mind that the payments will grow over the time of the loan period.
Extended Repayment -
Here you will have a reduced payment on a monthly basis but you will be paying for a longer duration, which leads to a much higher amount being paid over time as you will be accumulating interest over this extended period which will add to the total amount you repay.
In extra to the plans that are mentioned above, Cornerstone offers the income-driven repayment plan in which the monthly payments are calculated based on your income and cannot increase past about 10% of your monthly income.
Although this depends but sometimes you are able to make payments as low as $0 per month.
Income-based repayment plan or (IBR) for short -
If your loan was made to you on or before the date July 1st of 2014 you will pay about 10% of your after taxed income and 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 made to you before the 1st of July 2014 then you will be paying about 15% of your after taxed income and you will be needed to pay for a duration of 25 years after which you shall be eligible for forgiveness
Income-contingent repayment plan or the ICR for short -
Here 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 or whichever is lower. After 25 years of making these payments, if any of the balance remains it will be forgiven but keep in mind that this is considered taxable income and you will be required to pay taxes on the amount that is forgiven later on.
Pay as you earn or PAYE for short -
Here you will be paying an amount equal to 10% of your after taxed income but not any more than you would end up paying on a standard repayment plan. After about 20 years you can have your loans forgiven or whatever remaining balance that you have left anyway.
These repayment plans all have separately their own eligibility clauses and are made available to those borrowers that have federal student loans.
You could think about deferment or forbearance for your loans if all else fails -
If any student is facing severe financial hardship then they can decide to place their student loans in deferment or forbearance which are two options that are available for all borrowers that have federal student loans.
Deferment is a process through which you are able to stop paying 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 through satisfying some requirements such as 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.
You are on leave from work because of being pregnant or while you are taking care of your newborn child or a newly adopted child.
Regarding whether you are required to pay the interest that accumulated on the loan during the period that your loan is in deferment is depending completely on whether your loan is a federally subsidized loan or not. If they happen to be federally subsidized, you will not need to think about the interest, if they aren't subsidized, you have to either pay for the interest or it will end up being capitalized that is behind added to your loan principal amount.
Student loan forbearance is sort of similar to student loan deferment in the sense that it allows you to pause making payments on your federal student loans. But it differs from that of deferment where you could pause your payments and not worry about the interest that was accumulating on it in the case of subsidized loans where they were paid for by the government. Here 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 so as to stop making payments. You should go do some research and find out if your interest will accumulate or not and how much the various options might 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-dependent repayment plan might end up becoming a better choice than any sort of forbearance and deferment.
Interest rates and fees
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. Congress, which also means that Cornerstone will not have any say in the matter of changing your student loans without regard for how much you ask.
If you aren't sure of the interest rate that you pay on your student loan that is serviced by Cornerstone, you should find the relevant info in a couple of ways such as follows -
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.
Reduce interest rates of your federal student loan with Cornerstone
Since Cornerstone will not set the interest rates on your student loans, the options that you may possess in terms of reducing your rates with Cornerstone are pretty slim.
If you do want a 0.25% reduction in the interest rate you could sign up for automatic payments with Cornerstone but this doesn't automatically guarantee but just makes you qualified for it and it is also dependent on the type of student loan that you currently possess. A measly 0.25% might not mean much to you but with respect to the total of your student loan burden, it might turn out to save you money in the hundreds and thousands over the life of your student loan.
For example, let us imagine you have student loans that amount to say $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.
Student loan Refinancing is an option for those that want to change their student loan servicer or have their loans reduced in terms of interest rates or monthly payments by opting for a longer loan duration by having their old loans paid off and taking out a new loan with new terms and conditions.
Borrowers will mostly turn to student loan refinancing if they want to -
Get a lower rate of interest
Have their monthly payments reduced
Get a shorter term on their loans
Turn a variable loan to a fixed loan
Or more than just one of the above-mentioned benefits
Since refinance have the ability to help borrowers save a lot of money over the timeline of their loan period. If the interest rates have reduced significantly in comparison to when you took out your student loans or your credit scores have improved significantly since the time you got your loan refinancing might actually be beneficial to you.
Also, you need to make a mental note that there is not a federal student loan refinance program. If you consider refinancing your federal student loans, you are only able to refinance your federal student loans into a new private student loan.
If you do not have any interest in refinancing your student loans to get a much lower interest rate, but just want to make your student loans easier to handle, then consolidation might be a better choice for you. Although similar to refinancing in most senses, consolidation and refinancing differ in their own separate ways in some senses, so it is better for you to do research and figure out which one suits you well and fully understand each of them better you settle on making your decision.
Although refinancing might save you a lot of money over the timeline of your loan, it might also end up losing you some protection and benefits that a federal student loan comes with. Only you are able to figure out if the money that you save will be worth the loss of the federal benefits which you are about to give up, for those that are financially stable or secure need not worry about these things.
Usually, borrowers do not have the decision of who will their student loan servicer company, this decision is finally made by the federal government.
Even so, it is very important that you as the prime 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.
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 most of the customers are mostly happy with their responsiveness and customer service, many others have mentioned negatively about the same issues.
You should read the reviews that have been submitted about them on either Facebook or through the Better Business Bureau.
Pros of Cornerstone
A mobile friendly website -
Although the website could use a refresh in terms of design, it is a very friendly website in terms of usage on a mobile device, it is fairly easy to go through, especially compared to some of the websites that many of the other loan servicers have. Also, the website being a mobile-friendly website makes it easy for you to make payments when you are out and about.
The need for financial literacy -
Here the Cornerstone's website has to offer a lot of information that is designed to help those borrowers to get to know that student loans and the variety in terms of options that are available to them. Also, there is a wide library of info for the borrowers that are also active members of the armed forces. Cornerstone has put in the time and effort to get in content 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 satisfying.
Option for Direct Debit -
You are eligible to sign up for automatic payments so as to make it easier to manage the payments and even get your interest rate possibly reduced by 0.25%.
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 of Cornerstone
Although Cornerstone is great in most places as a servicer, there are a few places where they can improve a bit -
Customer service -
Here some of the borrowers seem to be happy with the Cornerstone's customer service, there is quite the number of negative reviews which 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 these social media channels.
Facebook, Twitter and more.
They usually have a response time of less than a couple of hours on Facebook.
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 above, 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.
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.