After you take out a federal student loan, you’ll be assigned a servicer for that loan. Great Lakes is one of nine student loan servicers assigned by the U. S. Department of Education. Originally founded in 1967, Great Lakes was recently acquired by another student loan servicer, Nelnet, though it will continue to operate under its own name. Along with AES/FedLoan Servicing and Navient, these four companies service 93 percent of outstanding government-owned student loans.
Keep reading to find out how federal student loans work and what the servicer Great Lakes can do for you.
What Does a Student Loan Servicer Do?
A student loan servicer doesn’t set the terms of your loan. Rather, you get your loan through the government, which then assigns a company to provide your student loan service after you get the funds. You send your student loan payment to the servicer, and it provides help if you have questions and offers various student loan-related resources.
If your loan is assigned to Great Lakes, the company helps you manage your student loan payment and provides information about your account. When you sign up for the Great Lakes student loan portal, you can view your balance and interest rate, make payments, update your contact information, and review assistance options. You can also make your student loan payment automatically via auto pay.
Great Lakes Student Loans and Services
Great Lakes offers student loan service, benefits and assistance in a variety of ways. It can help you to:
- Pay a lower interest rate. You just need to sign up for auto pay. According to Great Lakes, direct loans can qualify for a 0.25 percent interest rate reduction when you use auto pay.
- Consolidate your student loans so they’re all serviced by Great Lakes. If you have multiple loans, the government allows you to consolidate them under one servicer. This lets you have a single loan with a fixed interest rate and a single monthly student loan payment. There is no fee if you opt to consolidate. Compare student loan consolidation rates.
- Lower your payment with an income-driven repayment plan. If you’re eligible, Great Lakes helps with a variety of options that tie the amount of your student loan payment to your ability to pay. The actual payment is based on your income and family size, and you’re required to reapply each year. Depending on your circumstances, your debt might even be forgiven after 20 years for undergraduate loans and 25 years for graduate loans or a combination of the two.
- Get a postponement in your student loan payment. You can qualify under a number of circumstances, including unemployment, being back in school at least part-time, actively serving in the military during a war or national emergency, serving in AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps, being in a graduate fellowship program or rehabilitation training, or simply having financial trouble.
- Determine eligibility to have your student loan payment discharged or forgiven. Great Lakes helps you with loan forgiveness if you meet certain requirements. For example, you might qualify if you are a teacher, perform public service, attended a school that closed down or have a permanent disability.
Learn More: Federal Student Loans vs. Private Student Loans
Great Lakes Online and Mobile Tools
Great Lakes offers a repayment planner tool on its student loan portal that lets you explore specific options for your student loan payment, including standard repayment plans, hardship plans and temporary payment suspension. The tool requires you to log in to the Great Lakes website to use.
In addition to the online student loan portal, Great Lakes also offers a mobile app where you can make your student loan payment, check your account information and sign up for payment reminders. If you rarely use your computer, you can sign up for your account via the app instead of the Great Lakes website.
The Bottom Line
While you don’t have a choice of loan servicers, Great Lakes offers a wide range of student loan service options if your account ends up with the company. Whether you’re able to make your monthly student loan payment on the original schedule, or if you run into difficulties and need to explore other options, Great Lakes has ways to help.
Click through to see the best private student loan rates.
More on Student Loans
- The Average Student Loan Debt in Every State
- 20 Companies That Help Employees Pay Off Student Loans
- 15 Ways to Pay Off Student Loans
This content is not provided by the companies mentioned. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Great Lakes.