Who owns your student loans? It seems like a simple question, but the answer can be less than straightforward. If you’ve taken out loans from a variety of lenders, it can be difficult to keep track of all the institutions you’ve borrowed from.
And if you have federal student loans, those actually aren’t administered directly by the government but rather several different companies.
It’s important to know who your lenders and/or loan servicers are for several reasons. You need to know which institutions are overseeing your loans so that you can actually pay them. You need to know which website to visit or whom to call in order to find out how much you owe each month and ensure you pay it on time.
If you lose track of these details, you may risk falling behind on your payments and—if you fall behind for too long—even defaulting on your loans, which can have serious financial consequences.
Being familiar with your lenders or loan servicers is also important so that you know whom to contact if you have questions about your loans, are having trouble making payments, or want to discuss setting up an alternative payment plan.
So if you’ve ever found yourself questioning, “how to find out who my student loan lender is?” this article may provide some clarity. Read on for a few tips for understanding the different types of student loan lenders and identifying your own.
Lenders vs Loan Servicers
A lender is any individual or institution that loans money to someone and expects it to be paid back, usually with interest. In the case of private student loans, your lender is typically a bank or other financial institution.
When it comes to federal student loans, the lender is the federal government—this is who you’re actually borrowing funds from. But the government doesn’t directly oversee your loans or collect payments. That’s where loan servicers come in.
Student loan servicers are companies that the federal government has contracted with to take care of billing borrowers, setting up repayment plans, handling loan consolidation, and handling other tasks related to federal student loans.
The government currently works with nine different loan servicers to handle Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans:
• FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA)
• Granite State—GSMR
• Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.
• OSLA Servicing
The U.S. Department of Education assigns your loan to one of these companies after it is disbursed. In some cases, the department may decide to transfer your loans from one loan servicer to another.
If this happens, you’ll receive a letter from the new servicer that will include the company’s contact information.
Tracking Down Your Lender or Loan Servicer
You can find contact information for your private student loan lender on the emails or billing statements they should be sending you on a monthly basis when you enter repayment.
Some private lenders also send you a welcome packet or call you once you begin repayment. You can also look for their contact details on the documents you received when you first took out the loan, such as a promissory note.
If you’ve completely lost sight of your private student loan lender, you can confirm who they are by checking your credit report. You can request one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The financial aid office at your school may also be able to help you track down your lender.
This Department of Education database is a centralized repository of information about your student loans, aggregating data from universities, federal loan programs, and more. You can also log in to My Federal Student Aid in order to confirm the name of your loan servicers and retrieve their contact information.
For federal student loans outside of the Direct Loan and FFEL programs, you can find out information about your loan servicer in other ways.
For a Federal Perkins Loan, contact the school that issued it, which may also be your loan servicer. If your Federal Perkins Loan has been transferred to the Department of Education, contact the ECSI Federal Perkins Loan Servicer at 1-866-313-3797.
If you have a FFEL Program loan that is owned by a private lender and not the Department of Education, you can find the lender’s details on your credit report as well.
Contacting Your Lender or Loan Servicer
Most lenders and loan servicers make it easy for you to contact them. They want you to be able to get in touch easily to make sure repayment goes as smoothly as possible. You can find phone numbers and website URLs for the nine federal loan servicers on the Department of Education website.
Loan servicers are available over the phone, by mail, and via email, and some are also accessible through live online chat. You can find contact information for a private lender by searching online or reviewing mail or email correspondence they have sent you.
What are some of the reasons you might want to contact your lender or loan servicer? For federal loans, you can reach out to your loan servicer to confirm your balance and interest rate, check your monthly payment, adjust your payment plan, and discuss options if you run into financial hardship, such as applying for deferment or forbearance. If in doubt, it may be worth reaching out.
One of the worst things you could do is avoid contacting your lender or loan servicer because you’re embarrassed, confused, or overwhelmed.
These institutions are designed to help you understand your loan and pay it off according to schedule, and that means explaining things you don’t understand and potentially working with you to come up with more affordable repayment plans. Ignoring those tricky questions, or neglecting your student loans as a result, can backfire in a big way in the long term.
Don’t try to reach out to a loan servicer for questions about the status of your loan application or disbursement amounts and timelines—those are queries best left to your financial aid office since they are the ones responsible for ultimately disbursing your loan.
Likewise, questions about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) should be directed to the Federal Student Aid Information Center (1-800-4-FED-AID).
Looking Into Student Loan Refinancing
Once you’ve gotten a handle on who your lenders and loan servicers are, you may want to consider whether you want to keep your loans where they are. Many borrowers can save money or take advantage of better terms by refinancing their student loans.
Refinancing involves taking out a new loan from a private lender and using it to pay off your existing private or federal loans, or a mix of both.
If the new loan comes with a lower interest rate or lower monthly payment, it can help make your student loans more affordable for you. Your ability to qualify for refinancing, and the terms you’re offered, depending on a variety of factors including your credit history, employment, income, and other factors.
Refinancing your student loans with SoFi gives you access to competitive rates without any application or origination fees. You also won’t face pre-payment penalties if you’re able to pay your loan off ahead of schedule. It’s easy to apply online, and if you receive a loan, you’ll get complimentary access to SoFi’s career services and exclusive member events.
Keep in mind that by refinancing federal loans with a private lender you will lose access to federal benefits and payment protections that might make more sense for you, such as income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). You can find out if you prequalify and at what rates, in just a few minutes on SoFi’s website.
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