As a student loan borrower, you may have a love/hate relationship with your loan servicer. Even so, it’s important to work with them in order to pay off your student loans.
Your loan servicer is an important intermediary between you and your lender. Your servicer helps you manage your loans, and if you are ever in a bind, they can discuss different repayment options with you.
One federal loan servicer is the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation, commonly referred to as simply “Great Lakes.”
If you have Great Lakes student loans, read on to learn how you can take full advantage of the benefits you servicer offers and pay off your loans ASAP.
About Great Lakes
In 2018, student loan company Nelnet announced that it had purchased Great Lakes. At the time of the purchase, Great Lakes was servicing over $224 billion in federal student loans.
Despite the acquisition, Nelnet and Great Lakes operate as two distinct brands, rather than just one company. However, they are working together to create a new servicing platform for government-owned student loans. The goal of the new platform is to simplify the customer experience and enhance security.
What does Great Lakes do as a loan servicer?
As a student loan servicer, Great Lakes helps set up borrowers for successful loan repayment.
“It is our responsibility to help student loan borrowers get started on the path to repayment,” said Renola Swoboda, social media specialist at Great Lakes. “We recognize that student loans can be confusing, overwhelming, and scary for some borrowers. We help make it more manageable by answering their questions and concerns, and incorporating any feedback we receive from them.”
Making student loan payments to Great Lakes
If you have Great Lakes student loans, the easiest way to make payments is through their online portal. Start by creating an account online; you’ll need to share your Social Security number and date of birth so you can retrieve your loan information. Then, you’ll create a username and password in order to log in to make payments.
If you want to put your payments on autopilot and save some money on interest, you can sign up for auto-pay, which automatically withdraws you payments from your bank account each month.
Great Lakes student loan repayment options
If you don’t apply for an alternative repayment plan, Great Lakes will automatically enroll you in the Standard Repayment Plan, which offers fixed payments over the course of 10 years. This option is good if you can afford it because you’ll save money on interest compared to other plans with longer repayment terms.
If your student loans feel overwhelming and you have a limited income, you may want to consider an income-driven (IDR) plan to make payments more manageable. Under an IDR plan, the loan servicer extends your repayment term and caps your monthly payments at a percentage of your discretionary income.
“In some cases, we are able to lower a payment to $0 per month,” said Swoboda. “Borrowers’ eligibility for each plan varies based on their loan type and specific financial situation. They must reapply each year to qualify, and may have reduced monthly payments for up to 25 years.”
Just be aware that income-driven repayment plans will cost you more in interest over time because the length of the loan is extended.
Pro tips from Great Lakes
I spoke with Great Lakes about the best tips for managing student loans that borrowers may not know about:
1. Repayment Planner. After logging into their online account, the Great Lakes Repayment Planner allows borrowers to play around with different payment plans.
The Repayment Planner shows them the effect a repayment plan will have on their balance and length of repayment. The best part is it shows milestones during repayment, helping borrowers set short- and long-term repayment goals.
2. Social media support. Many Great Lakes student loan borrowers know they can reach out via phone and email, but many still don’t know that they can also get assistance through social media.
The Great Lakes Facebook and Twitter pages are excellent ways to ask a question. They answer with general information that everyone can learn from. If a question becomes account specific, the question is then addressed off of social media over the phone or via email.
3. Make payments while still in school. While students aren’t required to make payments in school, interest continues to accrue on most loan types. Any payment helps bring down the interest that is building up. Great Lakes accepts payments while borrowers are still in school, as low as $10. Interest is capitalized, or added to the principal balance, when the borrower enters repayment.
Early payment saves money in two ways. First, the borrower has less to pay back when repayment begins. Second, less interest accrues for the life of the loan because the balance is lowered.
Great Lakes contact information
Need to get in touch with Great Lakes about your student loans? Don’t fret. There are numerous ways to contact them.
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CT
Mailing address for general correspondence:
P.O. Box 7860
Madison, WI 53707-7860
If you have Great Lakes student loans, make sure to leverage their resources to help you pay off debt. If at any time you are having trouble making payments, get in touch with them to discuss your options.
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
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4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
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