What You Should Know About Great Lakes Student Loans
In the event that you have federal student loans, then you will most likely at some point in time have to deal with Great Lakes Higher education Corp or Great Lakes for short. They are a company that the federal government employs to service federal student loans. Of the many companies that service student loans for those borrowers who are stuck with federal student loans, this isn't one of the worst by far.
Well, this is because of a couple of things such as having the lowest number of complaints from its customers in recent years in comparison to other loan servicers. But, keep in mind that like most servicers, Great Lakes still gets a variety of grievances and has had a couple of class action lawsuits in its history.
If you still are considering going ahead or just want to know some more about Great Lakes then go ahead and have a look at our review below on Great Lakes, all the issues that the borrowers who have worked with them have faced and how in the event that you decide to switch servicers would you proceed with the decision. We've got it all down here.
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Great Lakes Student Loans Review
Great Lakes proceeds with servicing your student loans by monitoring your school enrollment, and by helping you figure out the best repayment plan and processing your student loan payments. With the data that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has on Great Lakes, they have received the lowest number of complaints in comparison to most of the other large federal loan servicers and it also has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It is also an important point to note that the company which was acquired by Nelnet in the year 2018, which has a much higher percentage of complaints per borrower. This acquisition might change the Service that borrowers receive in the future. Sadly, even if you wish to leave Great Lakes, you are not able to choose or change your servicers when you get your federal loan out. You can either choose to stay with the company and continue by making on-time payments or else Choose to refinance with a private lender which would eventually become your new servicer.
Repayment With Great Lakes Student Loans
The most hassle-free way for you to make your loan payments with Great Lakes is through its online portal where you create an account with your personal information which would also include your Social Security Number and Date of Birth. this is to make repayment a much easier task for you.
You could also sign up for their automatic payments, which would usually deduct the payments from your bank accounts automatically without you having to deal with the payments at all as long as your bank account has the amount of money in it that is required to make the payments.
When it comes to your federal student loans with the servicers that you have, you have a choice between 8 different repayment options for your student loans. But, Great Lakes will usually enroll you automatically into its standard repayment plan, which is with fixed payments over a term period of 10 years, if you do not apply or qualify for any other sort of repayment options.
Make sure you have a look and explore those repayments plans, as it might just help you manage payments according to the budget that you currently have and qualify eventually for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) if you become eligible.
How to Switch to a New Student Loan Servicer
Loan Servicers usually play a major loan in the repayment of your student loans, which if permitted might last for a long duration up to 25 years in some cases. Sadly, you are unable to choose your loan servicer in the case of your student loan being a federal student loan, which in some cases might be an issue for certain borrowers.
If you really are having issues with your loan servicer and do not wish to continue with and would like to change the loan servicer that is assigned to you by the Department of Education, the best option for you would be for you to consolidate your federal student loans and then go ahead and apply for a public student loan forgiveness or in case you are not able to get the loan forgiveness then you should consider refinancing your student loan with a private lender. Here are some of our top picks in terms of the best private lenders for you to refinance your student loans with.
Let's have a look at the competition
FedLoan Servicing -
Fedloan servicing is one of the largest servicers in terms of federal loans in the nation. Its offerings are much similar to Great Lakes, with a various number of repayments plans that are available so as to allow borrowers to choose the one that they feel suits them the best. If you are not sure, FedLoan servicing has quite the number of online resources that can help you decide on which way to proceed.
Like Great Lakes, FedLoan gives its borrowers a 0.25% Interest rate discount for those that enroll in its autopay program, So this might probably be one of the best options in case you are able to afford it.
Navient has its offers in terms of traditional and income-based repayment schedules, as well as through loan consolidation services. The company also has on offered a graduated repayment plan, in which the payments are initially low and then slowly increase as the time passes, in which it is aimed at those who currently have a low income but have the scope to improve their income over time.
This although might seem similar to the income-based repayment plan, is not the same as it, however. In the Department of Education survey, Navient scored in the lowest when taken in terms of customer satisfaction but if your loan has already been assigned to Navient, there is little that can be done about it.
Similar to the other companies on this list, Nelnet also has offered in the form of traditional and income-driven repayment plans, so you can proceed with the one that best suits the lifestyle of your choice. If you do sign up for their automatic payments, you become eligible for an extra 0.25% interest rate reduction.
There that are new to borrowing would appreciate their extensive FAQ section which is designed to help borrowers navigate through the repayment process. The company also has its own set of mobile apps which is available for both the Android and the iOS devices if you choose to manage your loan remotely.
Things to keep in mind before refinancing -
If you are planning on refinancing make a mental note of this.
You are going to be required to pay higher interest rates than your federal student loan.
You will lose the benefits of the federal student loan program such as having no more access to the federal student loan repayment plans or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Hence we do not encourage the move to refinancing unless you are well off and financially secure enough to handle losing these federal loan protections and benefits.
Here are a couple of the Private Loan servicers who you could switch to as your servicer in the instance that you decide to refinance your federal student loans -
SoFi is currently one of the best in terms of private lenders for students, as they offer very competitive rates and good options for the students that are studying in the medical field and those who are currently doing their residency and those who are in employment assistance. In case you happen to lose your job or are seeking new employment the lender even offers career coaches and opportunities to network and make it much easier for you to find a job. SoFi loans are serviced by MOHELA, which currently has an A+ Rating from the Better Business Bureau, and has very little in terms of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaints.
Next in line is a company that offers a lot of flexibility in terms of repayments options. Earnest is one of the best for borrowers who are looking at customizability and compliance as they let you set your own monthly payments and also the loan term. Although they do require you to qualify on your own without the need of a co-signer for which you will definitely require a credit score 650 or higher.
Loans are disbursed and serviced through Earnest, which currently has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. The lender was previously acquired by Navient, but they still continue to run and operate as a separate company apart from the parent Navient.
Laurel Road, one of the good old companies in the field of Banking and Student loans, they have always been a good option for those borrowers who would like to refinance and transfer their parent PLUS loans over to their children.
It is also a considerable option for health professionals in their residency programs, as they allow you to defer payments for a period up to 6 months after your residency program is done. Laurel Road is also Serviced by MOHELA, which is known to have very few complaints even in comparison to Great Lakes. Although, Great Lakes services many more borrowers.
If any private lender is not able to offer you a lower interest rate than the one you currently have it might be in your best interest to stay with your federal loan servicer. But keep this point in mind that refinancing will not guarantee a better service for you through the new servicer that you are opting for.
Since a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau states that nonfederal student loan servicers get more complains as a whole when compared to the federal student loan servicers.
How should you proceed if you want to file a complaint or get to their customer service?
If you are looking to file a complaint regarding Great Lakes, you should check out the following websites to report an issue or a problem that you are facing with the servicer.
The FSA Feedback system -
You are able to file a complaint using this federal student aid feedback system about your experiences with the student loan servicer in question. You must describe the issue that you are currently facing and how you would expect it to be resolved and also attach any relevant documents that are regarding the same. The federal student aid office will respond to your complaint as soon as possible.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) -
You are also eligible to submit a complaint with the CFPB, which is another government website where consumers are able to receive a timely response about 97% of time regarding their issues. To file a complaint, the website poses a couple of questions in order to categorize the problem you are currently facing and then leads you to a section where you are able to describe what you faced with your sevicer in detail so as to facilitate a quicker timeline of action.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) -
This group works towards helping consumers resolve issues that they are facing with businesses. You are able to file a complaint with them, which has to include the following -
your name, address, the email with details regarding the issue that you are currently facing.
The BBB group will forward your report to the business and will request for a response within a time period of 14 days. If the company in question fails to respond within the stipulated time period, they will send another request.
In case you have a specific issue which is able to be addressed by Great Lakes or if you need help with your student loan repayment, you should proceed to contact the servicer by phone, email, mail or through any of their various social media accounts. Great Lakes social accounts are a great way to receive general Info as their facebook page has a generous response time of one hour.
The company also has a specific center of knowledge with a repayment plan to help you find the best repayment options for your budget and help you answer the most common questions that they receive.
Great Lakes Contact Information
Phone number: (800) 236-4300
Fax: (800) 375-5288
Common Problems With Great Lakes Student Loans
When compared to other loan servicers, Great Lakes does not seem to have as many complaints as you would expect a loan servicer to have on file with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In our study, we found that the servicer received only 310 complaints in the time period between March of 2017 and march of 2018, compared to Navient's 3599 complaints, and Great Lakes has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Even then, the servicer has received three main complaints which the borrowers seem to have trouble with. Some of the major complaints stated by borrowers seem to include the following but is not restricted to them alone -
They seem to have trouble with how the payments are handled -
Most borrowers seem to have trouble with payment problems which include the misallocation of payments, false reporting of late payments and problems in making extra payments towards their debts. In accordance with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, all these issues were resolved with a timely response from the Great Lakes customer service side. but when working with any of the servicers, it is also very important for you to keep a track of your payments every month even in the instance that you have signed an autopay.
Getting out the wrong info to the borrowers -
One of the other common complaints that rise up from borrowers is that Great Lakes seems to send out the wrong info concerning their loans and debts especially during the time that borrowers try to file for deferment and forbearance. So it goes without saying again that it is best for you to keep a track of your payments and your requests which is important, especially when you are attempting to stop your payments. It is also in the best of your interests to contact the servicer as soon as possible when you seem to be having issues with your account.
Borrowers seem to have trouble getting flexible options for repaying their loans -
Borrowers are having a hard time getting their repayment plans changed with Great Lakes or the company has not switched the repayment plan properly. The best way to get this done with is to document the point at which you get your payment plan switching process, including the date when you filed for switching and when you receive the confirmation for the switch. Then you are able to contact Great Lakes as and when you face any issue regarding the same and are able to sort out things as soon as possible so as to not trouble you much.
Ways to avoid going through all this -
Looking to reduce the amount that you owe but not to go through the trouble of having to change your servicer and what not, try some of our money-saving strategies mentioned below -
Educate yourself and learn about the student loans and how they work and borrow just as much as is required by you. This way you have a better idea of what to expect in terms of the monthly payments and you can adjust your budget accordingly.
Pay while you are still attending school, as long as you can afford to do it you should try and pay off some of the loans while you still are in college. This will reduce the amount you will pay out in terms of interest over time.
Pay more than the minimum payment that is set as often as possible. If you are able to save a little extra money every weekend or month. Put it towards the student loan you have. This will also help you pay off the student loan faster and also decrease what you will eventually end up paying in interest otherwise.
Enroll in autopay if your loan servicer offers it because Great Lakes will take about 0.25% off your loan interest rate if you choose to enroll in the auto pay. Over the life of your loan that might save you quite a bit of money.
See if you are eligible for loan forgiveness. Some federal student loans will forgive borrowers loans under some conditions. If you are a teacher or work for a government agency or a non-profit, you might be eligible. You also become eligible if you become disabled, or your university closes prematurely while you are still in school.
Great Lakes Student Loan Review FAQs
Are Great Lakes loans federal or private?
Great Lakes Education Loan Services forms sort of a full-service contact between the students who borrow and their primary lenders. Regardless of whether their lending agent is the federal government, a state government or a private lender, Great Lakes works directly with the student borrowers in order to manage all the aspects of their loans.
Is Great Lakes the same as Navient?
Great Lakes, FedLoan Servicing, Nelnet and Navient are all student loan servicers. They are a bridge between you and your lender. For federal student loans, the interest is decided by the Higher Education Act as set by the Congress through amendments. Remember that your servicer is always there for the purpose of serving you.
Will Great Lakes remove late payments?
Whether you make your student loan payments on time or you miss them, they are eventually reported on a periodic basis every 30 days. Once your late or missed payment is reported, Great Lakes has no power to remove it from your credit history unless there are very peculiar circumstances or it is determined that you were in school or in a deferment or this occurred during your grace period.
Do I need to pay interest while I'm in school?
No, you are under no obligation to pay any interest for the period that you are enrolled in school or at least half-time. As long as you borrowed one of these loans - Subsidized loans, Unsubsidized loans, Parent PLUS loans.
What does the National Student Loan Data System mean?
This National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the U.S. Department of Education's central database for the purpose of federal student aid. It keeps a track of all the outstanding loans that are still under repayment and will keep a track until they are all paid in full, they help you figure out how much and whom you owe the money to.
How can I get in touch with Great Lakes?
Great lakes is there to help you with managing and also successfully repaying all your student loans whenever you require their help. With a variety of contact options that are suitable for you such as email, letter, phone call and more. Just hit the Contact us button on any of the pages of mygreatlakes.org, so as to get started. Make sure you remember to check out their website's self-help section which has a lot of info for you to go through which is available 24/7.
Don't know why your IDR application was rejected?
There are a number of reasons as to why your IDR application might have been rejected, for example, it might be due to an unsigned form, some missing info, or their failure to read and understand some supporting documents. Whatever might be the reason, they shall contact you by mail, letter or by a phone call to get some clarification and let you know about the situation and also let you know if any action from your part has to be taken to continue processing your application.
Is it possible to make payments while attending school and how will it be applied?
Yes, you can make the payments if you can afford to make them because making payments while you attend school is a good way to reduce the amount you end up paying over the life of the loan. Figure out how your payments are applied and the different methods of making payments (Online, through their mobile app, or through phone and more).
How are the payments applied to your loans?
This depends on a number of different factors. Most often the payments are initially applied to any interested that might be accumulated, and any fees that need to be paid, and later to your principal balance. Check out how payments are applied for various scenarios that might apply to your current situation.
How do I delay my payments or reduce them?
To get a look at your repayment options for stopping your payments temporarily or reducing your monthly payments, select repayment options from the my repayment plan menu in the greatlakes website and then select the senario that best describes your situation. You will be guided through the available options and them prompted on how to proceed.