If you think you have Aspire student loans but aren’t quite sure, you’re not alone.
This article will explain the confusing story of how Aspire Resources is connected to Iowa Student Loan — and how to make your student loan payments.
What’s the deal with Aspire student loans?
It all started with Iowa Student Loan, a nonprofit organization that’s been around since 1979. In 2001, it launched a for-profit subsidiary called Aspire Resources.
Then, in 2012, Aspire Resources received a Department of Education contract to handle 200,000 federal student loans.
Aspire Resource student loans consistently received good reviews — and Aspire Resources still has an A-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau.
But only a few years into its contract, Iowa Student Loan announced that Aspire Resources would no longer service federal loans.
“We recently decided to exit the Direct Loan servicing business due to the heavy cost burden of maintaining this federal contract,” said Steve McCullough, Iowa Student Loan president and CEO, in a August 2015 press release.
“Revenue from the contract is primarily driven by the number of accounts being serviced, and the number of accounts allotted to Aspire, including future projections, simply was not enough to generate the revenue needed to offset the costs,” McCullough said.
Following the announcement, Aspire Resources transferred its federal Direct Loans to the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA).
As part of the transfer, Aspire Resources scrubbed its data about prior borrowers. So if you had Direct Loans through Aspire, you should contact MOHELA with any questions.
So what does Aspire Resources do now?
That doesn’t mean Aspires Resources shut down, though.
Today, the company “performs functions outside of Iowa Student Loan’s tax-exempt designation by providing services to employers, lenders, secondary markets, and postsecondary institutions,” according to its website.
In other words, it’s more of a business-to-business arm of the company — one you probably won’t need to deal with.
Introducing the Aspire Servicing Center
The platform you do need to know about is the Aspire Servicing Center. If you have loans from Iowa Student Loan or its partners, you’ll use the Aspire Servicing Center to manage them.
Founded in 2014, this website provides customer service to people who’ve taken out private loans with Iowa Student Loan or its partner lenders Alliant Credit Union, Ascentra Credit Union, or American State Bank.
Aspire student loan repayment options
To pay your loans through the Aspire Servicing Center, here are your options:
- Standard repayment: You’ll make monthly payments for 10 years and pay the least interest with this plan.
- Graduated repayment: Your payments will be lower to begin with and then increase every two years. You’ll pay off your loans in 10 years or less but pay more in interest over the lifetime of the loans.
- Extended repayment: This plan is available only if you have more than $30,000 in Federal Family Education Loan Program Loans. You’ll have up to 25 years to pay off your loans, and you can make level or graduated payments.
- Select 2: Available only for private loans, this plan allows you to make payments that are limited to mostly interest for the first two years. But you’ll end up paying more in interest in the long run.
For federal loans, you also can apply for an Income-Based Repayment (IBR) or Income-Sensitive Repayment (ISR) plan. An IBR plan sets your payments at 10 to 15 percent of your discretionary income. An ISR plan caps your payments at between 4 and 25 percent of your gross monthly income.
If you’re struggling to figure out the right repayment plan, you can call Aspire at (800) 243-7552 for help.
Making student loan payments to Aspire
The easiest way to pay your loans through the Aspire Servicing Center is by creating an online account.
You’ll need to provide your name and Social Security number and then create a username, password, and security questions.
Deferment and forbearance options
If you’re struggling to make your payments, you can consider putting your student loans into deferment or forbearance.
With deferment, you can pause your payments for up to three years. Here are some of the reasons you might qualify:
- You’re enrolled in school at least half-time.
- You’re unemployed or suffering economic hardship.
- You’re serving in the military or Peace Corps.
- You have a Parent PLUS Loan and a dependent in school.
- You’re in rehabilitation training or a fellowship program.
If you don’t qualify for deferment, you can look into forbearance, which pauses your payments for up to 12 months. Here are some situations that might make you eligible:
- Your monthly payment is at least 20 percent of your total monthly income.
- You lost your job or are experiencing a temporary financial difficulty.
- You live in an area experiencing an emergency.
- You’re serving in the National Guard or AmeriCorps.
- You’re completing a medical or dental residency.
Unsubsidized Loans will accrue interest while in deferment, and all loans will accrue interest in forbearance. That means your loan balance might be substantially higher when you start paying again.
Aspire and military personnel
Aspire Servicing Center participates in programs that help soldiers with their student loans.
Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, for example, the maximum interest rate you can be charged is 6.00%.
And under the Armed Forces Interest Reduction Program, you could have interest on your private student loans reduced to 0% for up to 24 months. To qualify, you must be on active duty, have a non-defaulted private student loan, and be deployed before June 30, 2019.
Aspire contact information
If you need to call the Aspire Servicing Center, check out the following chart to see which number fits your needs.
If you’d prefer to reach Aspire via email, you can do so using its contact form.
For general correspondence or to submit forms, use the following address:
Aspire Servicing Center
P.O. Box 659705
West Des Moines, IA 50265-0970
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