When it comes time to start repaying student loans, many graduates are shocked to find that they don’t deal directly with the United States Department of Education. The federal government grants billions of dollars in student loans every year but does not control the repayment of these loans. Instead, it acts as an intermediary, processing borrowers’ payments and distributing them to a small number of licensed service companies who answer questions.
Excellent Lakes Educational Loan Services is one of the largest service organizations in the United States, processing approximately a quarter of federal student loans. If the Great Lakes is your student loan provider. Knowing who they are and what resources they provide can save you time and money. Here is what you need to know about the Great Lakes:
What are Great Lakes Educational Loan Services?
Great Lakes is one of nine companies that signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Education to handle federal student loans. But they did not revive the agreement in 2020. It also provides private student loans.
Great Lakes does not borrow money from borrowers but is responsible for the daily business of processing loan payments. That means sending bank statements, processing charges, reporting account activity to credit bureaus, tracking loan balances, and helping borrowers solve problems. Such as, if you want to change your payment plan or ask for a referral or discount, you need to apply through the Great Lakes.
Is Great Lakes Federal or Private?
Great Lakes provides personal loan processing to other lenders but is mainly known as a federal loan provider. Great Lakes currently provides loans for the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) and the Federal Direct Loan Program. That includes the following loan types:
- Direct Subsidized
- Direct Unsubsidized
- Direct Consolidation
- Direct Plus
What Can Great Lakes Help You With?
If you use the Great Lakes as a loan service and have issues or questions about the following topics, you can contact customer service.
Student loan repayment:
If you need to pay monthly, sign up for automatic payments, or pay additional student loans, you can do so online, through the mobile app, or call customer support.
Alternative repayment plans:
Your loan service provider can assist you in applying for an income-based repayment plan. Where your monthly repayment amount varies on your family size and income. Some candidates are also eligible for a monthly payment of $0. If you cannot pay monthly, please contact Great Lakes Educational Loan Services immediately to explain the situation.
Student loan consolidation:
Suppose you have many federal loans with different maturities instead of monthly installments. You can combine them and make payments more manageable by directly consolidating federal loans.
Deferment and forbearance:
If you encounter financial difficulties, for example, sudden unemployment or emergency medical assistance. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Great Lakes. You may be qualified for a deferment or subsidy, and you can momentarily defer the loan payment.
Suppose your job is for a non-profit association or a full-time government agency. Would you please notify the Great Lakes and tell them that you are applying for a (PSLF)Public Service Loan Forgiveness? As a PSLF applicant, Great Lakes will shift the loan to the designated PSLF lending institution Fed Loan Servicing.
Great Lakes student loan payment options
Great Lakes proposes a range of payment procedures:
Great Lakes can automatically take the disbursement from your bank account on the due date. If you have a federal student loan, sign up for automatic payments and get a 0.25% interest deduction. Some private student loan agencies may also propose automatic repayment discounts.
Manual online payments:
You can log in to your account every month and pay manually without getting a 0.25% interest rate discount.
You can call 800-236-4300 during business hours from Monday to Friday from 7 am to 9 pm. C.T. Callers from abroad can dial 608-246-1700 for loan payment.
If your bank presents bill payment functionality, you can ask Great Lakes to send your payment directly. Be sure to set it up in advance, as it may take a few days to process your payment.
Download the Great Lakes Mobile app on your iOS or Android device, log in to make a payment, or arrange and view loan details. You can also put up notifications to avoid missed payments.
Checks or money orders can be mailed to the Great Lakes. When doing so, please include the payment reference number on the check, including the payment insert on the statement.
Great Lakes Educational Services has been in business for more than 50 years and was rated “B-” by the Better Business Bureau. It is worth noting that critics believe that if the Better Business Bureau or other rating agencies receive income from companies that primarily rate, there are inherent conflicts of interest that open up the possibility of such ratings being suspected.
The Great Lakes are great service providers and have been facing some problems for many years. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s Student Loan Ombudsman Report 2020, the CFPB deal with 3,600 federal student loan complaints between September 2019 and August 2020. About 1% of these complaints are Great Lakes related, making it one of the few complaints against federal loan managers.
The Student Borrower Protection Center funneled a class action lawsuit against Great Lakes, TransUnion, Experian, Vantage Score, and Equifax, In May 2020. In the proceedings, the Great Lakes illegally provided inaccurate information about millions of customers to three major credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. They mishandled pandemic relief efforts under the CARES Act. It claims to have violated the creditworthiness of the borrower.
How to contact Great Lakes
There are many options for contacting the Great Lakes:
Log into your Great Lakes account.
Call 800-236-4300 from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
Fill out the form on the Great Lakes contact page.
Send an email to Great Lakes, P.O. Box 7860, Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7860
Send a fax to 800-375-5288.
The bottom line
If you don’t know who your loan manager is, log in to your Federal Student Aid account or check your credit report. Your loan service provider is your primary contact for the entire loan period. If you need help with changing your payment plan or accessing complicated procedures, please get in touch with the student loan forgiveness application.