Great Lakes is one of the major servicers for federal student loans. While it was acquired by another student loan servicing giant, Nelnet, Great Lakes continues to work with borrowers under its name. If you have Great Lakes student loans, read on to learn how you can take advantage of the benefits your servicer offers and pay off your loans.
- Great Lakes student loans review: the basics
- What we like about Great Lakes
- What to keep in mind about Great Lakes
- Paying off your Great Lakes student loans
Great Lakes primarily services federal student loans, but it also processes private student loans as well.
Whatever type of student loan you have, you’ll make payments through the Great Lakes online portal. You do this manually, though if you want to put your payments on autopilot and save some money on interest on your Direct Loan, you can sign up for autopay, which automatically withdraws payments from your bank account each month.
If you have federal student loans, you’ll be placed on the standard 10-year plan with fixed monthly payments. But Great Lakes can help you choose an alternative repayment plan if your bills on the standard plan are too burdensome.
As your student loan servicer, Great Lakes should help you find the right plan for successful debt payoff. Read on for more details about some of the payment plan choices on your Great Lakes student loans.
Great Lakes offers resources and support to student loan borrowers. Below are four ways this servicer can help if you have Great Lakes student loans.
1. Helps you apply for a variety of student loan repayment plans
If you have federal student loans with Great Lakes, note that your loans come with a variety of repayment options, including the standard 10-year plan, income-driven repayment (IDR) and extended repayment.
If you don’t apply for an alternative plan, your student loans will remain on the standard plan. But if you’re struggling with your monthly payments, you might want to consider switching to one of these other possibilities.
- Income-driven repayment: This adjusts your monthly payment to a set percentage of your disposable income, as well as extends your repayment terms to 20 or 25 years. Any remaining balance at the end of your term will be forgiven. IDR plans include Income-Based Repayment, Income-Contingent Repayment, Pay As You Earn and Revised Pay As You Earn. Click on the link above for more details.
- Extended Repayment Plan: This plan lowers your monthly payments by extending your repayment term to up to 25 years.
- Graduated Repayment Plan: The graduated plan lowers your monthly payments but then increases them over a 10-year period, which can be a good choice for borrowers who expect to see their incomes rise in the future.
While putting your Great Lakes student loans on an IDR or Extended Repayment Plan can give you financial relief, it will also keep you in debt longer. As a result, you’ll pay more in interest than you would if you stayed on the 10-year plan. Before switching your repayment plan, make sure to think through all the pros and cons.
Note that private student loans aren’t eligible for these federal repayment plans. They typically don’t have as much flexibility when it comes to repayment, though some lenders offer forbearance if you run into financial hardship. In this case, you might also want to consider refinancing student loans, which lets you choose new repayment terms, regardless of whether the existing loans are federal or private if you qualify.
If you’re struggling with private student loans serviced by Great Lakes, speak with a Great Lakes specialist about your options.
2. Accepts payments while you’re still in school
Student loans come with a grace period, meaning you don’t have to start making payments until you’ve been out of school for six months. But some types of loans start accruing interest from the date they’re disbursed, so you’ll be facing a larger balance than what you initially borrowed at the end of your grace period.
If you want to stop your balance from growing too much while you’re in school, you could make small payments as a student. You can make payments on your Great Lakes student loans while you’re still in school. If you can swing it, in-school payments could make it easier to repay your loans once you graduate.
3. Offers a useful repayment planner tool to borrowers
After signing into your online account, you’ll find a repayment planner tool that lets you play around with different repayment plans for your Great Lakes student loans.
Enter your loan amount and interest rate, and the tool will give you your monthly payments (and how much interest you’ll pay) on different plans. It can also help you see the effects of each repayment plan on your balance and length of repayment so that you can choose the best approach for your debt.
4. Provides social media support
As a Great Lakes student loan borrower, you can reach out to Great Lakes via phone or email. But you might not know you can also get assistance through social media. You can ask questions via the Great Lakes Facebook and Twitter pages. You might also pick up useful information from questions that other borrowers have asked.
That said, if your question is account-specific or involves private information, Great Lakes will address it with you over the phone or through a secure message. They can be reached Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Central Time at 1-800-236-4300 or via email at [email protected]
Although federal student loan servicers are supposed to educate borrowers about their options and help them manage repayment, they don’t always fulfill this mission. In some cases, servicers have faced government lawsuits.
While some borrowers with student loans serviced by Great Lakes speak positively about the service, there are also customers who’ve complained about errors with processing their payments or applications for IDR plans. Others have said Great Lakes didn’t apply their extra payments to their student loan balance in the right way.
Based on customer ratings with ConsumerAffairs as of March 12, 2020, Great Lakes had only one star out of a possible five for overall satisfaction. That said, dissatisfied customers may be more likely than satisfied ones to review their loan servicers online.
If you have Great Lakes student loans, you don’t have to rely entirely on your loan servicer for information on your options. You can look to other trusted resources to learn about repayment options and make the right decision for your debt. And if you’re requesting an IDR plan or making extra payments on your debt, double-check that Great Lakes has applied everything correctly.
Although this might require some extra due diligence on your part, it could be worth it to make sure your debt is being properly managed. Meanwhile, if you’re dissatisfied with Great Lakes for any reason, you can choose a new loan servicer by consolidating your debt with a Direct Consolidation Loan or refinancing with a private lender.
Borrowers in the Class of 2019 graduated college with an average of $29,900 in student loans. Debt of this magnitude can take a long time to pay off, meaning you could be working with your student loan servicer for years.
If you’ve got Great Lakes student loans, don’t be afraid to reach out to it with any questions or concerns. As your student loan servicer, its job is to help you manage your student loans in the best way for your financial situation.
At the same time, monitor your account to ensure nothing has slipped through the cracks. By staying proactive, you can make the best financial decisions as you pay off your student debt.
Melanie Lockert contributed to this article.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2022!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.74% – 8.70%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 7.99%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 7.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 7.99%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.05% – 5.25%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.86% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|N/A7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 8.38%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of May 4, 2022.
2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Student Loan Refinance Interest Rate Disclosure Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 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%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Let us know if you have any questions and feel free to reach out directly to our team.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates range from 3.49% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
5 Important Disclosures for Navient.
6 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.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 5/17/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 2.05% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
7 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Fixed Rate Loan Terms: 5 years/60 monthly payments, 8 years/96 monthly payments, 12 years/144 monthly payments or 15 years/180 monthly payments. Annual Percentage Rate is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed rates range from 3.29% to 5.43% APR. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed APR: Fixed rates will not change during the term. This rate is expressed as an APR. Since there are no fees associated with this loan offer, the APR is the same percentage as the actual interest rate of the loan. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
8 Important Disclosures for CitizensBank.
Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.99%-8.38% (1.99%-8.38% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 2.99%-8.63% (2.99%-8.63% APR).
IS Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates advertised are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of December 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.09%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Your final variable rate may be based upon the 30-day average SOFR index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.
ERL Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates are based on the 30-day average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As of May 1, 2022, the 30-day average SOFR index is 0.29%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the SOFR index, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable interest rate is the greater of 21.00% or the prime rate plus 9.00%.
Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates are only available for the most creditworthy applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate or medical degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.