The Department of Education is in charge of issuing federal loans to college students, but once repayment time rolls around, it often relies on third-party servicers to collect the monthly payments. If you have a federal student loan, the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority (OSLA) may be your servicer.
Here are a few things you should know about OSLA student loans and how they help student loan borrowers.
Oklahoma Student Loan Authority review
Whether you went to college in the 1970s or more recently, OSLA may have serviced your federal student loan. Created in 1972 as a “public trust by the Oklahoma legislature for the benefit of the State of Oklahoma,” according to OSLA’s website, the organization has focused their efforts on servicing college students’ federal student loans (130,000 accounts to be exact) and their dedication shows.
It has been recognized as one of the best in the country for their top-notch customer service, ranking in the 90th percentile among federal student loan servicers. The Department of Education even referred to them as an Exceptional Performer in 2006-07 for “meeting and exceeding the standards established for participants in the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program by the Department.”
But the servicer did receive some negative reviews online. A reviewer on the Better Business Bureau website said the “employees were rude and awful” and it was their lack of assistance that sent the loan to collections. Meanwhile, another reviewer claimed it was “impossible to get ahold of a customer service representative” when dealing with a loan issue.
No student loan servicer is perfect, though it’s possible these negative reviews are the result of a few disgruntled borrowers. Either way, if OSLA is your servicer, you can’t change it — so read on to find out how to make the most of your relationship with them.
How the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority works
OSLA is a public trust overseen by five trustees appointed by the governor of Oklahoma. Though it’s non-profit, the organization doesn’t receive any funds from the Oklahoma government. Rather, the money it makes from managing student loans covers their operating expenses.
Like other student loan servicers, OSLA acts as a middleman between borrowers and the Department of Education by managing repayment of federal student loans. The organization only services Federal Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL). In fact, it was one of five non-profit loan servicers chosen by the Department of Education to service these types of loans. OSLA originated FFEL loans prior to July 1, 2010, but have since discontinued that service.
While it acts much like any loan servicer by accepting borrowers’ payments, figuring out alternative payment options, and handling things such as forbearances, it prides themselves on exceptional customer service. This is done through an easy-to-use website, multiple points of contact for borrowers to have their questions answered, and a staff that averages seven years’ experience in servicing student loans.
How OSLA helps student loan borrowers
One of the main ways OSLA helps student loan borrowers is through their “default aversion initiatives.” If a borrower is having trouble with maintaining the repayment schedule, it proactively reaches out to understand and rectify the situation.
Through a customer service agent, the borrower will learn about the various options to stay on top of their payments and avoid default at all costs. This includes cautioning borrowers about third-party student loan debt relief offers and outside credit repair services.
In addition, it communicates via their website and individual correspondence with borrowers about how to manage sudden changes in a borrower’s personal situation. For example, if a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster is declared, OSLA quickly makes borrowers in that location aware of their Disaster Forbearance options.
OSLA is also open about the variety of options to student loan borrowers beyond just their bread-and-butter of servicing loans. It provides information on potentially beneficial borrower programs, such as consolidation, Total Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and Teacher Loan Forgiveness.
There are also specialists and a special section on the website for U.S Military Service Members to understand if they can receive any additional benefits.
Lastly, OSLA student loans offers a number of repayment options for borrowers in addition to the Standard Repayment Plan, such as Income-Based Repayment and Pay As You Earn.
Types of repayment programs OSLA has for student loan borrowers
OSLA helps student loan borrowers by figuring out which repayment plan works best for them. Here is the variety it offers.
- Standard Payment: This is the basic 10-year repayment plan for borrowers who have a federal OSLA student loan. Automatic payments can be set up and there are no additional fees from OSLA.
- Graduated Repayment: Available to Direct Loan borrowers, this plan has lower initial payments, but they increase in the future. That means the total interest paid will be higher than if you opted for the standard plan.
- Extended Repayment: A borrower can take a standard or graduated plan and extended the repayment term up to 25 years. Only loans that have been disbursed on or after October 7, 1998, qualify. In addition, you must have more than $30,000 left to pay on your FFEL loans or Direct Loans.
- Income-Sensitive Repayment: Borrowers can adjust their payment plan each year based on changes in their monthly incomes and the total amount of student debt. This plan is available up to five years.
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR): Available to both FFEL and Direct Loans, borrowers’ payments are determined by how much you make, how many people are in your family, and how much you still have to repay on your student loans. After 20 or 25 years of making qualifying payments, the loans are forgiven.
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR): This is similar to the IBR with adjusted gross income, family size, and loan balance taken into consideration, but it’s for Direct Loans only and after 25 years of payments your loans are forgiven.
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE): This option is only available as of 2012 and is similar to IBR. The difference is to be eligible you must be a new borrower (taken out a loan after Oct. 1, 2007) and collected a Direct Loan disbursement after Oct. 1, 2011.
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE): Available starting in 2015, the plan is similar to PAYE except that there is no stipulation as to when you borrowed the money.
These options ensure that you’ll be able to find a way to pay back your student loans even if your financial situation changes. It’s just important to keep a line of communication with the servicer if you are having trouble making payments to your OSLA student loan.
How to contact the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority
Borrowers can reach OSLA in several ways and it depends on the type of loan you have.
- There are two websites available to borrowers whether you have a Direct Loan or FFEL Loan. You can access both at public.osla.org.
- You can reach OSLA by phone at 866-264-9762 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST, between Monday and Friday. Or, you can email them at DLcustserv@osla.org.
- Military personnel can call 844-835-7484 or email MilitaryBenefits@osla.org.
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