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.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.89% – 6.66%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.09%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 5.64%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.98% – 8.55%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
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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 October 1, 2020.
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 September 9, 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 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 10/15/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.98% APR to 8.55% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.99% APR to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.