Great Lakes Student Loans Review 2022: Is It the Best Service for Federal Loans?

GOBankingRates Score

4.0
SCORE
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Quick Take: Great Lakes is one of the better federal loan servicers available. It has a broad spectrum of payment options, and borrowers are given multiple verticals to communicate with the support team.
  • Loans
    3.7
  • Payment
    4.6
  • Features
    3.7
  • Customer Service
    4.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Flexible payment options
  • Good customer support
  • Educational resources

Cons

  • Complaints about app functionality
  • Ongoing lawsuit

    Great Lakes Student Loan Overview

    Great Lakes provides student loan servicing to millions of students. A loan servicer does not own the loan or set the rates. It is an institution chosen to handle payments and customer queries on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education.

    Great Lakes has partnered with more than 6,000 schools and 1,000 lenders to provide aid for all of its members. It also has professional financial aid representatives to help students plan loan repayments from start to finish.

    Key Features

    Great Lakes has several notable features. Here’s a closer look at each one.

    Loans

    For the most part, Great Lakes deals with federal loan servicing, but it does offer private loan processing solutions with two partnered brands: FastChoice and ScholarNet. 

    As a federal loan servicer, Great Lakes does not determine interest rates. The current fixed rate for federal undergraduate Stafford Loans is 3.73%, but this is set to increase to 4.99% for loans disbursed from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023.

    Payment

    Payments by student loan borrowers can be made in several ways, including:

    • Mail
    • Check
    • Phone
    • Website
    • App

    Great Lakes allows borrowers to set up flexible payment options such as autopay and income-driven payment plans. It also will provide advice on postponing payments and changing due dates.

    Additional Features

    Great Lakes gives borrowers alternative recourse in regard to postponing, deferring or setting up new repayment plans. These options are available in the event of unemployment or when a borrower is serving in the military. 

    Teachers in low-income communities, full-time public service workers and people with disabilities can also qualify for Great Lakes student loan forgiveness in certain circumstances.

    Customer Service

    Great Lakes has a team of financial aid professionals ready to assist borrowers with whatever they need. The primary contact number for Great Lakes is (800) 236-4300, although it offers a number of other methods of contact for customer queries. Borrowers can also get in touch by:

    • Mail
    • Email
    • Fax
    • Live chat support through its web platform
    • Social media: Facebook and Twitter

    Great Lakes has 3.8 stars on the Google Play Store, but complaints have arisen in relation to basic functionality and errors when logging in. 

    How Great Lakes Student Loans Stand Out

    Great Lakes stands out for its educational material and customer support resources. The platform is relatively easy to navigate and provides customers with freedom of choice when it comes to managing student loans. 

    Comparable Great Lakes Options

    Here’s a closer look at how Great Lakes student loans stack up against other designated servicers.

    Great Lakes vs. Mohela

    Great Lakes has a more comprehensive customer service suite than Mohela. Great Lakes has live online chat support, whereas Mohela does not. Great Lakes keeps its phone lines open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday, and Mohela only operates from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the same days. 

    Great Lakes vs. HESC

    Great Lakes and Higher Education Servicing Corporation (HESC) both offer private and federal student loans. However, HESC only works with a handful of providers, whereas Great Lakes is partnered with ScholarNet and FastChoice, which provide a range of solutions. 

    ScholarNet connects borrowers with every major private student loan provider. FastChoice compares all choices, which gives borrowers more customization and flexibility.

    How To Apply

    To apply for a federal student loan, the borrower must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, also known as a FAFSA. 

    Borrowers do not get to choose or change their federal student loan servicer, but if they choose to consolidate loans, they can indicate a servicer preference in the application. 

    If a borrower is assigned Great Lakes as their student loan servicer, they can set up their account online. They will be required to fill out basic details such as their Social Security number and date of birth to acquire a login. 

    Who Great Lakes Student Loans Are Best For

    Great Lakes is great for those who require hands-on customer support, as it allows them to handle all student loans in one place. Borrowers get flexible payment options, professional support and access to the Great Lakes Knowledge Center, which provides relevant ongoing insights for student loans.

    Final Take

    Overall, Great Lakes is one of the top performers when it comes to federal student loan servicing. For private student loans, borrowers may want to explore other options. But generally, it performs well for those who want to manage their loans all in one place.

    FAQ

    Here are some questions people ask in relation to Great Lakes and its student loan services.
    • What happened to Great Lakes Student Loans?
      • Currently, Great Lakes is still contracted as a student loan servicer with the U.S. Department of Education. However, since March 2022, Great Lakes student loans have begun being transferred to its parent company, Nelnet.
    • Is there a lawsuit against Great Lakes Student Loans?
      • Yes. The verdict has not been decided as of yet. A borrower has sued Great Lakes on the grounds that it increased principal and interest balances during the government's pause on student loan repayments.
    • Is Great Lakes federal or private student loans?
      • Great Lakes primarily services federal student loans, but it also handles private student loan processing.
    • Is Great Lakes a government student loan?
      • Great Lakes does not own the loan, but it does service federal loans, which are funded by the government.

    Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Great Lakes. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Great Lakes.

    Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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    About the Author

    David is a qualified financial advisor in the Republic of Ireland. He has a bachelor's degree in business and entrepreneurship, as well as over five years of investing experience.
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