You’ve graduated college and your grace period is coming to an end. You know the day you have to start making payments on your student loans is near — but where do you send that check?
Student loan repayment can be confusing; who you pay isn’t necessarily the same entity that loaned you money. Your lender and student loan servicer are not necessarily the same.
What Student Loan Servicers Do
A student loan servicer is a company that manages student loans. Essentially, they are a third party that acts as a middle man between you and your lender. When you make a payment toward your student loan, it is managed by your loan servicer.
Student loan servicers work with borrowers to help manage their student loan repayment. If borrowers would like to change their repayment plan or apply for deferment or forbearance, they need to discuss their options with their loan servicer first.
Borrowers do not choose their loan servicer, but rather are assigned one. If you have federal student loans, your loan servicer is assigned by the U.S. Department of Education. Below are the various loan servicers that manage federal loans and their contact information.
My current student loan servicer is Nelnet and I’m pleased with their service. However, my loan servicer has changed hands three times during the life of my loan, so that wasn’t always the case.
Who Is My Loan Servicer? Here’s How to Find Out
The process for finding your loan servicer will be different depending on whether you have federal or private student loans. If you have both, you will need to take two different approaches.
If you have federal student loans:
- Start by going to the National Student Loan Data System
- Click on “Financial Aid Review”
- Accept the terms and conditions
- Log in with your FSA ID. If you don’t have one, you can easily create one.
- Once you log in, you’ll see a summary of all your loan data. This will include the types of student loans you have, loan amounts, as well as outstanding balances and interest. You’ll see something like this:
If you have private student loans, it could take a little more work to find your loan servicer. Start by looking at your credit reports (access your credit reports for free at annualcreditreport.com ) or your most recent student loan statement. Common private student loan servicers include Sallie Mae and its spin-off company, Navient.
What to Do After Finding Your Loan Servicer
Once you know who your loan servicer is, you can create an account on their site. In my experience, you’ll create a username and password and share your relevant information like full name, address, and social security number (for verification purposes).You’ll likely be asked to create several security questions and answers for your account as well.
Once you are registered, you can connect your bank information and make payments directly from your bank account. You can send checks as well, but in my opinion, it’s much easier to do it online.
Typically, you can get a 0.25% interest rate deduction by signing up for automatic payments. If you’re not interested in auto pay, find out if you can sign up for online alerts to be reminded when a payment is due.
Complaints About Student Loan Servicers
It’s no secret many student loan borrowers have felt frustrated with their student loan servicers. Recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched a public inquiry to hear from borrowers about their experiences with student loan servicers.
The response was more than 30,000 comments, many of which called for stronger standards to protect student loan borrowers during repayment, and included complaints about customer service and payment processing.
Hopefully, as these comments continue to shed light on issues student loan borrowers face, we’ll start to see some change in the industry.
For now, your student loan servicer is the liaison between borrower and lender, so if you have any issues, you need to go directly to them.
Knowing your student loan servicer is more than just knowing who to pay each month — it’s knowing where to turn to if you need to change your repayment term or apply for deferment or forbearance. If you’re unsure of who you loan servicer is, follow these steps to get clarification.
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