Do you know who oversees your student loans? If you’ve taken out loans from a variety of lenders, it can be hard to keep track. But it’s important to know who your student loan servicers and/or lenders are so you can make payments on time and reach out with any questions.
You’ll also want to contact your loan servicer or lender if you’re having trouble paying back your loan to discuss your options. Falling behind on payments or defaulting on a loan can have serious financial consequences. Here’s what to know about the different types of student loan servicers and lenders—and how to identify your own.
What Is a Student Loan Lender?
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 loan providers, your lender is the federal government. But while you’re borrowing funds from the government, several different companies—called loan servicers—handle the administration of the loan and collect payments.
What Are Student Loan Servicers?
The federal government contracts with student loan servicers to take care of billing borrowers, setting up repayment plans, handling loan consolidation, and administering 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 (FFEL). If you’ve ever wondered, “who is my student loan servicer?” it’s likely one of the following companies:
• FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA)
• Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.
• Edfinancial (HESC)
• OSLA Servicing
• Default Resolution Group
What Do Student Loan Servicers Do?
Loan servicers are the main point of contact for the administration of your loan. Here are some of the main functions of federal student loan servicers:
The U.S. Department of Education assigns your loan to a loan servicer after it’s disbursed. As mentioned, your student loan servicer handles the billing and customer service for your student loans.
For federal loans, you can reach out to your loan servicer to confirm your balance and interest rate, or check your monthly payment. It’s helpful to register on the loan servicer’s site so you can stay on top of payments and understand what you owe. If you have any questions, it’s worth reaching out to ask.
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.
Execute Deferment or Forbearance Requests
If you run into financial hardship, contact your loan servicer to discuss options, such as applying for deferment or forbearance. One of the worst things to 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 or working with you to come up with a more affordable repayment plan.
Handle Repayment Plan Changes
Loan servicers can help you figure out the best repayment plan for you and whether to consolidate your student loans. Federal borrowers can change their repayment plan at any time without any fees.
For example, if you’re hoping to lower your monthly student loan payment, you can extend your loan term. You’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan, but it’s one way to get relief if you’re struggling to make payments.
On the flip side, you can shorten your loan term if you’d like to pay off your loan sooner. There are also income-driven repayment plans that tie the amount of a borrower’s income to their monthly payments.
Help Process Loan Consolidation Requests
If you’re looking to simplify your payments, your loan servicer can help you consolidate your federal loans through the Direct Loan Program, combining different federal loans into a single new loan with an interest rate that’s a weighted average of all of your existing federal loan rates. Keep in mind you’ll pay more interest over the life of the loan due to the rate change.
Your loan servicer can also help you determine if you’re eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness or other types of federal loan forgiveness and help you find out if you’re on the right repayment plan to qualify.
Looking to simplify your student loans? Learn more
about refinancing your student loans with SoFi.
How To Find Your Student Loan Servicer or Lender
Finding your student loan servicer can vary depending on the types of student loans that you have. Here are some of the most common ones:
Private Student Loans
There generally aren’t private student loan servicers; your main point of contact is your lender. You can find contact information for your private student loan lender on the emails or billing statements you should be receiving each month once you enter repayment.
Some private lenders also send 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.
Federal Student Loan Lenders
For federal student loans, you can log in to the Federal Student Aid site in order to confirm the name of your loan servicers and retrieve their contact information.
Another option is to check the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). This Department of Education database is a centralized repository of information about your student loans, aggregating data from universities, federal loan programs, and more.
Federal Perkins Loans
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 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 site.
Loan servicers are generally available by phone, mail, and 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.
Why Might You Need to Contact Your Student Loan Servicer?
As mentioned earlier, you can reach out to your federal loan servicer for payment questions or issues or to adjust your payment plan. You can also apply for deferment or forbearance or look into forgiveness options.
Ignoring payment problems, or neglecting your student loans, can backfire in the long term. If your student loans become delinquent or you default on your student loans, there can be serious financial repercussions, including the unpaid balance of the loan being due immediately.
If you’re having trouble making payments, contact your loan servicer to find out payment options that may be available to you.
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.
The same goes for 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).
Recommended: FAFSA Guide
While you may borrow money from the federal government, student loan servicers—private companies that work with the Department of Education—oversee the administration of your loan. They collect payments, handle applications for deferment or forbearance, assist with repayment plan changes, and offer customer service and general assistance. When you have a private student loan, the lender generally oversees the administration of the loan.
If you have any questions about your loan or if you’re having trouble making payments on your loan, you should reach out as soon as possible to your student loan servicer or lender. They may be able to help you find solutions that will prevent you from defaulting on your loan.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.
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