Review: How to Take Charge of Your Cornerstone Student Loans

Cornerstone student loans

As a student loan borrower, you probably don’t have a very positive opinion of your student loan servicer. After all, you fork over hundreds of dollars each month; of course you’re not crazy about them.

But your loan servicer plays an important role in managing your student loans. They manage your payments, process your paperwork, and hopefully work with you if you can’t make your payments.

Cornerstone Education Loan Services — commonly referred to as Cornerstone student loans — is a federal loan servicer. The company might be who you end up with when you take out federal student loans.

If you have loans with Cornerstone, here’s what you need to know to take advantage of all the company has to offer.

Cornerstone Education Loan Services review

Cornerstone is one of nine federal loan servicers. It’s a nonprofit organization run by the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority and is headquartered in Salt Lake City. Despite the name, the company services federal loans nationwide, not just the loans of Utah residents.

Cornerstone student loans

When it comes to federal student loans, you don’t get to choose your loan servicer. Instead, the U.S. Department of Education appoints one to you after you receive your loan.

If Cornerstone is your loan servicer, you will receive a letter from them once your loan is disbursed. Cornerstone only works with federal student loans, not private student loans. That means you might end up with them if you have any of the following loans:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans
  • Perkins Loans

Using the Cornerstone platform to manage your debt

If you have Cornerstone student loans, the easiest way to manage your debt and make payments is through its online portal. Although the company doesn’t have a smartphone app, the website is mobile friendly.

You can get started by creating an account. To do so, you’ll need to provide your Social Security number or loan account number. Then, you’ll be able to create a username and sign in.

Once you do, the platform can show you what kinds of loans you have, what the interest rates are, your monthly payment, and estimated pay-off date.

If you’re a military servicemember or veteran, Cornerstone has a whole section dedicated to tips, information, and resources designed specifically for you.

Another resource Cornerstone offers is financial literacy information. On the website, you can find useful repayment calculators, budgeting tips, and even games to help you improve your financial knowledge.

Cornerstone repayment options

You can make payments on your Cornerstone loans online, over the phone, or through the mail. Keep in mind that the loan servicer only accepts checks or funds directly from your bank account; you cannot pay with cash or credit cards.

Keeping up with your payments is important to ensure you stay on track to pay off your debt and to protect your credit. To avoid late fees and other issues, you can set up automatic payments on your account. You won’t have to worry about manually making payments each month and you’ll receive a 0.25% interest rate reduction.

If you need help with your loan repayment, reach out to the company about the following options for your Cornerstone student loans:

1. Alternative payment plans

Making your payments on time and in full each month can be difficult when you have a small salary. If you’re in danger of falling behind, contact Cornerstone right away.

If you can afford to put some money toward your loans each month — but not the full payment that’s due — you might be able to work out an alternative payment option. Depending on your situation, you might qualify for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan.

With an IDR plan, the loan servicer caps your monthly payments at a percentage of your discretionary income and extends your repayment term. You’ll pay more in interest over time, but an IDR plan can dramatically reduce your payments to give you more breathing room in your budget.

You can download the IDR plan request forms directly from the Cornerstone website.

2. Deferment or forbearance

If you can’t afford to make any payment at all, you might qualify for a loan deferment. During a deferment, you can pause payments on your debt for up to 36 months.

If you have subsidized loans, the government will cover the interest that accrues on your debt. You might be eligible for deferment if you are unemployed, have a financial hardship, or are currently enrolled in school.

Entering forbearance is similar to deferment. It allows you to postpone payments on your loans for up to 12 months at a time. Unlike deferment, you are responsible for paying the interest that accrues on your debt, regardless of the types of loans you have.

3. Extra payments

If you want to make extra payments and pay off your debt ahead of schedule, you can do so online, over the phone, or through the mail.

However, it’s important to know that Cornerstone does not apply extra funds toward your principal balance. Instead, it pays off any accrued interest or fees first, then applies any money left over to the principal.

4. Forgiveness and discharge

If you’re eligible for federal forgiveness or discharge programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, closed school discharge, or total and permanent disability discharge, you can download the necessary forms directly from Cornerstone’s website.

Cornerstone loans customer service

Cornerstone prides itself on its integrity and transparency. Its goal is to help borrowers manage their debt effectively. One of its guiding principles is its focus on personal attention and service, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

However, reviews of the company tend to be mixed. Some customers complain about not being able to submit forms online. But a number of complaints against the company are really about issues with student loans in general — not just about Cornerstone loans. Positive comments highlight the customer service team’s responsiveness and efficiency.

Student loans from Cornerstone

If you have Cornerstone loans, the company is one of the few loan servicers that offer in-person assistance. You can walk into their headquarters Monday through Friday during normal business hours to discuss your loans and any questions you might have. The building’s address is:

Board of Regents Building, The Gateway
60 South 400 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1284

If you aren’t close to Salt Lake City, the Cornerstone call center is open Monday through Friday but is unavailable on weekends. You can speak to a representative by calling 1-800-663-1662.

You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Crushing your student loan debt

If you have Cornerstone student loans, it’s wise to check out their website and see all of the resources they have available. From financial literacy primers to alternative payment plans, Cornerstone provides information you can use to take charge of your loans and become debt-free.

If you’re ready to eliminate your student loan debt, these tips can help you pay off your loans faster.

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