Great Lakes Educational Loan Services Inc or Great Lakes student Loan Servicing is a student loan servicer which is an affiliate of Nelnet Diversified Solutions, LLC. It is a non-profit corporation and is one of the country’s leading student loan service providers in the US with around 10 million borrowers. It doesn’t provide loans but works with 6000 schools, the US Department of Education, and 1000 lenders to provide services for their loans.
Great Lakes provides the following types of services to its customers
Collection of monthly payments and tracking payment history
Enrolling in an Income-Driven Repayment Plan
Guiding the borrowers to qualify for loan forgiveness programs and payments
Help with forbearance and deferment options
Table of contents
- Great Lakes Student Loan Servicing Reviews
- Repayment plans provided by Great Lakes
- Direct Loan Consolidation
- Making payments with Great Lakes
- Benefits to Servicemembers
- Contact Information
Great Lakes Student Loan Servicing Reviews
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, 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.
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.
1.Great tools built for a quick transaction
Great Lakes provides you a good online platform to make your online transaction with them. They have built several tools like calculators etc so that you can make the right decisions with your finances. They have tools to help you pick the best repayment plans that suit you.
2.Efficient customer service
Great Lakes has a good customer support where your queries are addressed and resolutions are given in a short period of time. Many options related to repayment plans and other advice is offered. They have a call, emails, and other social media applications to help you with your queries.
It is found that the servicer received only 310 complaints in the 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-
1. They seem to have trouble with how the payments are handled
Most borrowers seem to have payment problems which include the misallocation of payments, false reporting of late payments, and problems in making extra payments towards their debts.
By 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.
2. Giving out the wrong information to the borrowers
One of the other common complaints that arise from borrowers is that Great Lakes seems to send out the wrong information concerning their loans and debts especially during the time that borrowers try to file for deferment and forbearance.
So it goes without saying that you should 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 interest to contact the servicer as soon as possible when you seem to be having issues with your account.
3. Turning Off Auto Pay Without The Borrower's Consent
Auto-pay seems like a good idea for the busy borrower and servicers too because auto-pay is the closest they can get to guaranteed payments. As automatically deduction from an account and Great Lakes also offer .25% of interest rate deduction tho the auto payment borrower.
But you have to check with the servicer about the auto-pay as complaints about Great Lakes turning off without notifying the borrowers is been seen and in this, they miss a payment and lose their interest discount. So it's better to keep regular checking with the loan servicer and taking appropriate actions.
4. Failing To Process Income-Driven Repayment Plans
For a borrower, an income-driven repayment plan can be a financial saver as chances of getting loan forgiveness on public services and on-time monthly payment but if you are not notified by the loan servicer that your application for the income-driven repayment plan is accepted then it is big problem because an IDR will not give any relief on missing out the application form.
The issue with Great lakes is of delay in informing about the repayment plans even in some cases borrowers reapplied it but nothing happened so this one is concerning part and as a borrower, you have to keep checking with the loan servicer about it.
In some cases, the addition of capitalization is also been seen in the interest of his loan even the borrowers filled the income-driven plan application before the deadline. Some reported as the process of IDR took a lot of time and in that application got missed but it is unfair to a borrower. So its better to keep regular check up on the assigned loan servicer.
Filling a complaint
In case if you are facing difficulties with Great Lakes which are not getting resolved, you can start by filing a complaint directly with its ombudsman. The student loan ombudsman is an unbiased and confidential body that helps to solve any issue that you have with your loan and loan servicer. You can call at 866-348-0708 or drop an email at email@example.com. You can also log in to your Great Lakes account to file a complaint. Also, 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.
1 - The FSA Feedback system
You can 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.
2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
You are also eligible to submit a complaint with the CFPB, which is another government website where consumers can receive a timely response about 97% of the time regarding their issues.
To file a complaint, the website poses a couple of questions to categorize the problem you are currently facing and then leads you to a section where you can describe what you faced with your servicer in detail to facilitate a quicker timeline of action.
3. Better Business Bureau (BBB)
This group works towards helping consumers resolve issues that they are facing with businesses. You can 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 a response within 14 days. If the company in question fails to respond within the stipulated period, they will send another request.
In case you have a specific issue that can be addressed by Great Lakes or if you need help with your student loan repayment, you should proceed to contact the service 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.
How to settle a dispute with Great Lakes
When a complaint doesn’t help, you can contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group. As per the federal student aid office, this method should be used only as a last resort. Complete and check all information on the Ombudsman Information Checklist before you contact. You can get in touch, the details follow:
By mail: U.S. Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman Group
P.O. Box 1843
Monticello, KY 42633
Great Lakes Repayment Plans
Great Lakes provides the following repayment options to borrowers of Federal loans which they can choose from to make debt repayments.
1. Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan
IDR plan are of 4 types which the borrower can choose from to make payments-
Income-Based Repayment Plan
Income-Contingent Repayment Plan
2. Standard Repayment Plan
This plan is made available by the federal government for the loan borrowers automatically if you do not choose an alternative. It has a repayment term of 10 years in which you have to make fixed monthly payments throughout the life of the loan.
Great Lakes have different repayment options for private student loan borrowers depending on the lender. Contact your lender if you want to know about the options available to you.
3. Graduated Repayment Plan
This plan allows you to make lower payments at the beginning which increases every two years. It is helpful for those who are earning less income and cannot afford to make fixed payments.
Keep in mind that the interest that accrues during this period will capitalize on the end making the debt payments costlier in the long run.
4. Extended Repayment Plan
This plan, either standard or graduate allows you to extend your repayment period up to 25 years. It will lower your payments and give you more time to repay your loans.
Direct Loan Consolidation with Great Lakes
If you have multiple Federal Loans with different terms and interest rates, then it can be difficult managing payments. You can consolidate your loans by combining them into one single loan to simplify payments.
As allowed by the US Department of Education, you can choose your loan consolidation servicer (Great Lakes being one) under the Direct Consolidation Loan Program.
Benefits of consolidation
Your multiple loans can be combined and made to only one single loan
You get a fixed interest rate on the loan
You need to make only one payment on the loan every month
You can choose the student loan servicer you wish to consolidate your loans from
No consolidation fee is charged
You get flexible repayment options
You can be eligible for a temporary forbearance which can make your qualifying past-due loans current
Eligible borrowers can get their consolidation loans to qualify for loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Plan.
Eligibility criteria for consolidation
To be eligible for consolidation you need to meet the following:
You should have at least one Federal Loan
You should have loans in grace, deferment, forbearance, delinquent, or repayment status
If you are in school, you can’t consolidate your loan
You can consolidate your defaulted loans but you have to enroll your new consolidation loan on an income-driven repayment plan
Keep in mind the following
You have to pay a different interest rate
You have to pay for a longer period
Your Direct Parent PLUS Loans are not eligible for consolidation under PAYE or IBR plan
You might lose out on some federal student loan benefits.
If the loans you wish to consolidate are in a grace period, make sure to mention it on your application, or else it will be processed immediately making you lose your remaining grace period.
Payment Methods offered by Great Lakes
The following are some of the ways through which you can make payments for your loans-
1. AutoPay - Signing up for autopay allows the lender to automatically deduct your payments directly from your savings or checking account on the due date. It will be helpful as you do not have to worry about late payments. Also, Great Lakes provides a 25% reduction on your interest rates if you sign up for autopay.
2. Pay Online - You can easily make monthly payments online anytime, anywhere. This option also allows you to keep track of your payment history, and save your bank details to make payments conveniently.
3. Mobile App - You can get the Great Lakes mobile app on your Android or iPhone and use it to make payments or check your loan details. This application also notifies you about your due dates and successful payments you’ve made.
4. Pay by call - You can call them up on their automated telephone system and make payments, available 24/7. You can also choose to speak to their trained representatives during business hours so that they can guide you on how to make payments or answer any questions that you might have.
5. Pay by Mail - You can pay by check and send it across through mail to the address of Great Lakes. Make sure you send along your payment insert from your billing statement and also mention your Payment Reference Number on your check.
In case you have trouble making payments at a certain period, you can request a change in your payment due date so that you can pay at a time when it is most convenient for you.
Benefits to Servicemembers
As a token of appreciation, Great Lakes provides several benefits to the servicemembers of the nation.
1. Interest rate reductions
Servicemembers on active military duty can qualify for either or both of the following interest rate reductions-
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) - Members qualifying for this act will have their interest rate charged up to a maximum of 6% and also have their late fees dropped. SCRA benefits start on the first day of your active military duty and end after you are done.
To qualify, you need to meet the following requirements -
(a) Your loans have to be disbursed before the date your active duty starts.
(b) The start date of your active duty has to be confirmed from the US Department of Defense database or submit a copy of your orders.
Zero Percent Interest for Hostile Areas - Servicemembers having a military duty in hostile areas and receiving special pay can qualify for zero percent interest in which you won’t have to pay any interest on your qualifying Direct Loans for up to 6 months.
To qualify, you need to meet the following requirements-
(a) Eligible loans are Federal Direct Loans disbursed on or after October 1, 2008.
(b) Provide documented proof that you are deployed in a hostile area like your certified official’s statement and signature, military orders which show that you are serving in a hostile area, or a leave and earnings statement which shows that you are getting hostile pay.
2. Reduce your payments
You can get yourself enrolled in Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan to lower your federal loan payments.
Heroes Act Waiver - This act has provisions that allow qualifying borrowers to extend their income-driven repayment plan.
(a) A renewal of their current IDR plan can be done by eligible service members up to 90 days after their end date or maximum one year, whichever is less.
(b) A renewal of their current IDR plan can be done by eligible non-service members for up to 1 year from the qualifying event.
To qualify, you need to meet the following requirements -
(i) You are on active war duty, other military operation or national emergency
(ii) You are carrying out qualifying National Guard duty for war, other military operation or national emergency
(iii) You are living in or employed in a place stated as a disaster area by any federal, state, or local official regarding a national emergency
(iv) You have gone through direct economic hardship because of war or other military operation or national emergency as decided by the US Department of Education
3. Temporarily postpone your payments
You can choose to postpone your payments while you are serving in the military. The following are the options available-
Military Service Deferment - If you are eligible for this deferment, it’ll allow you to temporarily stop making payments on your Federal Loans while you are on active duty during a war, military operation, or national emergency. You should also be placed in a duty station which isn’t your normal station.
Post Active Duty Student Deferment - If you are on active federal or state duty while still enrolled in school, then you can be eligible for this deferment which allows you to stop making payments for 13 months maximum after you are done with your active duty service.
National Guard Duty Mandatory Forbearance - Some members of the National Guard having federal student loans can get this forbearance benefit if-
(a) They don’t qualify for Military Service Deferment but are called for a state active duty that qualifies for Post Active Duty Student Deferment
(b) They have been called for National Guard duty within six months after being enrolled in school for at least half time.
Department of Defense Loan Repayment Program Mandatory Forbearance - Service members who are carrying out service makes them eligible for partial repayment of student loans under the Department of Defense Loan Repayment program can avail this benefit. To qualify for this, you have to meet the requirements-
(a) Different agencies have different requirements. To find out if you are eligible, contact your commanding officer.
(b) You can apply for this forbearance if you are still waiting for a military student loan payment to go through.
You can qualify for either one of the following loan forgiveness programs.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness - To be eligible for this program, you have to meet the following requirements-
(a) Only Federal Loans are eligible
(b) You are working full-time in a qualifying public service organization
(c) You must complete 120 on-time qualifying payments
(d) You are enrolled in a qualifying repayment plan
Total and Permanent Disability Discharge - To be eligible for this program, you have to meet the following requirements -
(a) A documented proof has to be provided from the US Department of Veterans to confirm that you are unemployed because of a service-connected disability
(b) Only Federal loans are eligible.
You can contact Great Lakes Student Loan Servicing through various means. They're given below.
Phone number - (800) 236-4300
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter - twitter.com/MyGreatLakes
Facebook - www.facebook.com/mygreatlakes
Fax - (800) 375-5288
Official Website - mygreatlakes.org