You might not realize your student loan servicer — the company that handles your student loan payments — is full of information that can help you along your loan repayment journey.
Sometimes people are afraid to contact their student loan servicers, especially if they are having trouble making payments. But the truth is calling your student loan servicer is actually your best bet for getting helpful information you need about your student loans.
Your student loan server should be able to help you if:
- You want to make your very first payment.
- You want to lower your payments.
- You are having trouble making your payments.
- You want to pay off your student loan early.
- You have questions about going back to school.
They can also help you with more obscure questions and can even give advice about student loan consolidation and refinancing.
As always, do your own research, and don’t be afraid to challenge the person on the phone if you’ve read conflicting information. The point is to get the best, most accurate information about your student loans so that you always make your payments on time and will be on track to pay them back effectively.
Here are some examples of questions that can lead to helpful answers from your servicer:
Questions to Ask Your Student Loan Servicer
- How can I lower my payments?
- When is my first payment due?
- I want to go back to school. How will that affect my student loan payments?
- How do I consolidate my student loans?
- What is the difference between consolidating and refinancing student loans?
- I’m having trouble making my payments. What happens if I miss one?
- How do I prevent default?
- What are some examples of personal hardships that would qualify me for forbearance?
- What should I do if I lose my job?
- What is my interest rate?
- Is there any way I can lower my interest rate?
- Is there any benefit to automating my student loan payments?
- Is my contact information up to date?
- I got married and changed my last name. How do I change my information in your system?
- How much will it cost if I want to pay off my student loans completely in the next 10 days?
- How do I know what type of loan I have?
- I can’t live on my current student loans. How do I qualify for more?
- How long is my grace period after I graduate?
- Do I get another grace period if I go back to school and graduate again?
- When will I receive my loan refund check?
- What is the benefit of paying interest on my loan while I am in school?
- Do I qualify for income-based repayment?
- What benefits will I lose if I refinance or consolidate my federal loans into a private loan?
- What is the best way to pay my student loan bill?
Student Loan Servicers Exist to Help
Your student loan servicer is definitely there to help you. Sure, it needs to collect money so the company is paid — that’s a given. However, it’s job is also to help you understand your repayment options. After all, your student loan servicer would rather get a lower payment than no payment at all.
Still, many people find it difficult to call and ask questions on the phone, especially if they are dealing with financial hardship. However, those who have been there before admit that once they called their student loan servicer and ask for help, they felt an immense sense of relief and wished they’d called sooner.
I had personal experience working with a student loan servicer when my husband and I wanted to send back $13,000 of his medical school loans. I’d recently received a promotion at work with a large pay raise and we didn’t need all of the money we were awarded that semester. Our student loan servicer contract said that we could return the money within 90 days and no interest would be charged on it.
It took a few calls to confirm we could send the money back penalty-free. It was such an uncommon practice to send money back early that not everyone at the company was aware of the rule! However, we were eventually able to send it back, and we felt so great about it.
Problems With Your Student Loan Servicer?
If you call your student loan servicer and find they aren’t helpful, write down the name of the person you spoke with as well as the date and time. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is currently gathering information on student loan servicers that have not been helpful to students.
Most servicers should be able to answer your questions accurately, but you should still be your own advocate. Research your question in length before calling and ask lots of questions. It’s a good idea to have a positive relationship with your servicer and be polite on the phone so they will be more likely to help when you need it.
Asking for help isn’t always easy, but when you get the answers you need, you’ll be so glad you did.
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