Great lakes student Loans

Great lakes student Loans

To make online payments, follow these simple steps: 

1. Create an Account on MyGreatLakes.org

To sign up for an account, click on “Sign Up” on the top right of the screen at MyGreatLakes.org. Then, enter your Social Security number and birth date. The site will prompt you to create a username, password, and PIN number. 

2. Select Your Loan Account

Once your account is verified, you can select your loan account and schedule a payment. You can decide to make a one-time payment, or set up recurring automatic payments. If you can, automatic payments are a good idea. When you enroll in autopay, you’ll get a 0.25% interest rate discount. 

When it comes to your student loan payments, some rules apply to all student loan servicers. All outstanding interest and fees, if applicable, must be paid first, before the servicer can put any of your payment toward the principal

If you make extra payments, the excess is automatically applied to the accrued interest since your last payment. If there is any money left over, it’s applied to the principal of the loan with the highest interest rate. If you’d prefer the excess be applied to a different loan, you can change your preferences online under your account Excess Payment Preferences

About Great Lakes Educational Loan Services

Great Lakes Educational Services has been in business for more than 50 years and has a “C” rating with the Better Business Bureau.  It is worth noting that critics have argued that there’s an inherent conflict of interest when a rating organization such as the Better Business Bureau receives revenue primarily from the businesses that it grades, which opens the door for those ratings to be suspect.

Complaints

Great Lakes is a large servicer and has experienced some issues over the years. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) 2019 Student Loan Ombudsman Report, the CFPB handled 6,600 federal student loan complaints between September 1, 2018, and August 31, 2019. Approximately 4% of those complaints were about Great Lakes, making it one of the most-complained federal loan servicers. 

Class Action

In May 2020, the Student Borrower Protection Center filed a class-action lawsuit against Great Lakes, Equifax, TransUnion, Experian, and VantageScore. The lawsuit alleges that Great Lakes mishandled CARES Act pandemic relief efforts by illegally providing inaccurate information about millions of its customers to Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian—the three major credit bureaus—damaging borrowers’ credit.

How to Contact Great Lakes

To contact customer support, call 1-800-236-4300. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST. You can reach customer service through the mobile app or secure email, as well.

Also, you can mail general correspondence (not payments) to:

Great Lakes
PO Box 7860
Madison, WI 53707-7860

Is Great Lakes Your Only Servicer?

Unfortunately, you can’t pick your federal loan servicer. However, there are two ways to get a new servicer if you’re unhappy with the one you have:

1. Consolidate Loans

If you want a new loan servicer but want to keep your federal loan benefits, consolidating your loans with a Direct Consolidation Loan may be a smart solution. You can choose a new repayment term, may be eligible for a new payment plan, and you’ll get a new loan servicer. 

Your interest rate is based on the weighted average of your current loans, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of 1%, so you won’t save money by consolidating your debt. But, it can be worthwhile, especially if you have multiple federal loans to juggle. And you may become eligible for repayment plans you didn’t qualify for before.

2. Refinance Debt

If you’re willing to give up federal loan benefits like income-driven repayment plans, another option is student loan refinancing. With this strategy, you work with a private lender to take out a loan for the amount of your existing student loan debt and use it to pay off your old debt. The new loan will have different repayment terms, including the interest rate and monthly payment. 

If you have good credit and reliable income, you could qualify for a lower interest rate than you have now. Over time, refinancing your debt could even allow you to save money. If you think that refinancing sounds like the right thing for you, check out our list of the best refinancing lenders.

Our Verdict

While Great Lakes does have a history of some issues with borrowers, you can minimize the chance of problems by signing up for automatic payments, reviewing your account regularly, and reaching out right away if you can't afford your monthly payments. But you'll want to do so well before the end of 2020, as Great Lakes will no longer service federal student loans after that.

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