You might not realize that 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’re having trouble making payments. But the truth is, calling your student loan servicer is your best bet for getting answers to your student loan questions.
Your student loan servicer should be able to help you if:
- You want to make your very first payment.
- You want to lower your payments.
- You’re having trouble making your payments.
- You want to pay off your student loan early.
- You have questions about going back to school.
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 loan questions. Here are the questions about student loans that can lead to helpful answers from your servicer.
Student loan questions to ask your 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 a student loan payment?
- 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?
One thing to note: If your student loan servicer recommends changing your repayment plan, it’s wise to get a second opinion before committing to a new plan. Reducing or postponing your monthly payment can give your finances some breathing room, but it usually means extending your repayment period and paying more in interest fees over the life of your loan.
Explore all your options for lowering your monthly student loan payment and follow up your phone call with additional research to make sure the change is right for you.
Student loan servicers exist to help
While your student loan servicer’s primary job is to collect the money it’s owed, it’s also there to help you understand your repayment options and answer your questions about student loans. After all, the more informed you are, the more likely you are to continue paying off your loans on time.
Still, many people find it difficult to call and ask student loan questions on the phone, especially if they are dealing with financial hardship. However, those who have been in such situations say that once they called their student loan servicer and asked 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 that 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 clause. 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 with questions about your student loans and find that the company isn’t helpful, write down the name of the person you spoke with as well as the date and time. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau gathers information on student loan servicers that have not been helpful to students, and you can file a complaint. You can also submit feedback through the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Feedback System if you’re dealing with federal student loans.
If you have a dispute with your student loan servicer, ask for a statement detailing your payment history and double check your own records before jumping to conclusions. In order to avoid problems, the U.S. Department of Education recommends taking the following actions when contacting your student loan servicer:
- Keep notes of your conversation and who you spoke with.
- Follow up in writing and keep these emails or letters on file.
- Ask for a copy of your customer service history (servicers keep record of notes made on your account).
- Always save your bills and receipts, as well as any letters or emails you receive about your account.
- Leave accurate contact information so you can be reached in a timely manner.
Most student loan servicers should be able to answer your student loan questions accurately, but you should still be your own advocate. Research your questions about student loans in length before calling, and ask lots of follow-up questions. It’s a good idea to have a positive relationship with your servicer and be polite on the phone, even if you find yourself getting frustrated.
Asking for help isn’t always easy, but when you get the answers you need, you’ll be glad you did.
Elizabeth Aldrich contributed to this report.
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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Splash Financial loans are available through arrangements with lending partners. Your loan application will be submitted to the lending partner and be evaluated at their sole discretion. For loans where a credit union is the lender, or a purchaser of the loan, in order to refinance your loans, you will need to become a credit union member.
The Splash Student Loan Refinance Program is not offered or endorsed by any college or university. Neither Splash Financial nor the lending partner are affiliated with or endorse any college or university listed on this website.
You should review the benefits of your federal student loan; it may offer specific benefits that a private refinance/consolidation loan may not offer. If you work in the public sector, are in the military or taking advantage of a federal department of relief program, such as income based repayment or public service forgiveness, you may not want to refinance, as these benefits do not transfer to private refinance/consolidation loans.
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 1, 2020.
Fixed APR: Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rate options range from 2.88% (without autopay) to 7.27% (without autopay) and will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed rate options without an autopay discount consist of a range from 2.88% per year to 6.21% per year for a 5-year term, 3.40% per year to 6.25% per year for a 7-year term, 3.45% to 5.08% for a 8-year term, 3.89% per year to 6.65% per year for a 10-year term, 4.18% per year to 5.11% per year for a 12-year term, 4.20% per year to 7.05% per year for a 15-year term, or 4.51% per year to 7.27% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. The fixed interest rate will apply until the loan is paid in full (whether before or after default, and whether before or after the scheduled maturity date of the loan).
Variable APR: Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Variable rate options range from 1.99% (with autopay) to 7.10% (without autopay) and will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Our lowest rate option is shown with a 0.25% autopay discount. Our highest rate option does not include an autopay discount. The variable rates are based on the Variable rate index, is 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 April 27, 2020, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.43763%. The interest rate on a variable rate loan is comprised of an index and margin added together. The margin is a fixed amount (disclosed at the time of your loan application) added each month to the index to determine the next month’s variable rate. Variable rate options without an autopay discount consist of a range from 2.01% per year to 6.30% per year for a 5-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.35% per year for a 7-year term, 2.09% per year to 3.92% per year for a 8-year term, 4.25% per year to 6.40% per year for a 10-year term, 2.67% per year to 4.56% per year for a 12-year term, 3.44% per year to 6.65% per year for a 15-year term, 4.75% per year to 6.93% per year for a 20-year term, or 5.14% per year to 7.10% for a 25-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate may be between 9.00% and 16.00%, depending on loan term. The floor rate may be between 0.54% and 4.21%, depending on loan term. 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.
2 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 June 23, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 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 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% 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 July 31, 2020, 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 7/31/2020. 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 protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 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.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.18% effective July 10, 2020.