Even well before you march on stage to receive your high school diploma, you’ve likely thought about what comes after the ceremony.
Some may already have a career path laid out in front of them in the form of a family business. Others may choose to go into careers that don’t require any higher level of education so that they can start helping their parents or perhaps provide for their own families as soon as they can.
Different options are indeed available, but for the vast majority of high school graduates, the next step they want to take is to go to college. With a college degree in hand, you will have a better chance of landing a career in a field you’re actually interested in.
Of course, the catch with college is that it’s often quite expensive. Unless you’re part of a wealthy family, gaining entry into college could involve trying to secure a scholarship of some kind or perhaps getting a part-time job to help your parents pay for your expenses.
Many people will also turn to taking out student loans in order to pay for their college education. The process of seeking out and securing a student loan is not one to take likely.
Several factors can affect what kind of experience you have living with a student loan, and this includes the servicer you end up working with.
In this article, you’ll be able to learn more about Great Lakes Educational Loan Services. You’ll learn more about how the company operates, the services it provides, and you should also be able to tell if they are the student loan servicer you need to work with.
What Services Does the Company Offer?
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a student loan servicer is a company that will collect the payments on a student loan, manage and maintain the loan itself, and also provide answers to any questions the borrowers may have. Those are the main tasks.
Along with those, student loan servicers are also responsible for keeping track of your loan, and they are also the ones in charge of handling applications and making any changes to the terms of the loan itself.
You can expect all those services to be provided by Great Lakes if you end up working with them, but what’s important to point out here is that they do offer other conveniences.
The company will provide you with a way to make automatic payments. This service isn’t just so you can avoid being late. By signing up for the automatic payments, you’re also shaving off 0.25 percent from your interest, meaning you’ll have to pay less over the life of the loan you took out.
Speaking of payments, you can send those in through various channels. You can go the traditional route through the mail or perhaps opt for payments over the phone. Alternatively, Great Lakes also offers apps for Android and iOS devices that are just as useful for making payments. Those same apps can be used for the purposes of managing your loans.
Before you take out any loan, make use of their planning tool to compare the different payment plans available to you. Doing so will enable you to see which payment plans can save you the most money.
Great Lakes also gives people access to numerous resources that are all about student loans. If you still have questions, get in touch with Great Lakers’ experts and they will help you figure out a sensible payment plan.
The company also offers grants and loan consolidation services. We’ll get into those a bit later in this article.
Is Great Lakes Considered a Good Loan Servicer?
To put it simply, yes, Great Lakes does deserve to be recognized as one of the better student loan servicers in the United States.
The company utilizes technology well to make the process of paying and managing loans easier for their clients as evidenced by the solid ratings their apps have on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
You can also count on being able to reach customer service representatives quite easily should you have any inquiries.
Great Lakes is not perfect by any means. They have their own set of issues that we’ll dive into a bit later. However, they aren’t as problematic as some of the other student loan servicers.
Per Investopedia, Great Lakes ranked fourth in terms of how often they were complained about among student loan servicers from the period of Jan. 1 to March 15 of last year.
Though they ranked fourth, they received nearly 50 percent fewer complaints than the company that ranked third. The company that ranked second had nearly five times as many complaints as Great Lakes did and the loan servicer with the most complaints had more than 12 times as many as Great Lakes.
Compared to some of the other widely known student loan services in the country, Great Lakes has consistently shown an ability to keep their customers satisfied with their convenient offerings and their attentive customer service.
What Kinds of Student Loans Are Handled by Great Lakes?
Great Lakes specializes in handling both federal and private loans. You don’t have to be restricted to working only with one type of lender if you decide to partner up with Great Lakes. This type of flexibility is helpful because students have different preferences with regards to who is financing their college education.
Just to clear up some possible confusion though, the company is not the one responsible for setting the interest rate of your student loan or even how much money you can receive. Those are matters that you will have to discuss with the lender.
Great Lakes can offer you all kinds of assistance and present you with different payment plans and options, but the actual terms of the loan are things that will be determined by the lender.
How to Apply for Student Loan Consolidation at Great Lakes
Some students opt to take out multiple loans in order to finance their college education. They do this in order to take advantage of some better offers that may only be offered for smaller loans. Pool those smaller loans together and you may end up with money for college.
Early on, having multiple student loans may not be much of a hassle. As time goes by though, having to make multiple payments in a month and dealing with multiple loan services can become incredibly inconvenient.
To ease the burden on students, Great Lakes offers a student loan consolidation service. Consolidation will allow you to combine your student loans so that you can manage things better.
Before applying for consolidation, Great Lakes advises people to gather all the relevant information beforehand. The application process has to be completed in one go and you won’t be able to accomplish that if you’re missing something.
You should also take the time to select a payment plan before applying to save more time.
With all of your information ready, you can simply go online to complete your application. Remember to accomplish the application thoroughly before you browse elsewhere. If you fail to finish your application first, you will have to type in your information again.
How to Manage Your Account at Great Lakes
You don’t have to go a nearby Great Lakes office just to receive the latest updates regarding your account.
If you have a laptop or PC, you can simply go to Great Lakes’ website via your preferred browser and log in to your account there. You also have the option of downloading their app and use that to view your account.
As mentioned earlier, payments can also be made via the app. Payment reminders can also be set via the app if you want to ensure that you’re always on time.
What Are the Repayment Options at Great Lakes?
You have five repayment options to choose from at Great Lakes.
The first one is the standard repayment plan. Here, you’ll pay a set amount of money every month for 10 years.
The standard graduated plan also runs for 10 years, but the payments you need to make are different. Payments start lower, but after every two years, they will increase.
Going with an extended repayment plan means that you will have to pay a fixed amount of money over 25 years. The extended graduated plan works in the same way as the standard graduated plan, but it runs for 25 instead of 10 years.
Lastly, you also have the option of choosing the income-driven repayment plan. For this plan, the amount of money you need to pay every month will depend on how much money you earn. Payments will increase as your income goes up.
Other factors such as the size of your family and any other loans under your name will also determine how much you have to pay monthly. You’ll have to do more if you choose this repayment plan because you will have to submit your tax information annually.
What Is Student Loan Forgiveness?
If you decided to secure a federal student loan instead of one from a private entity, you could end up qualifying for loan forgiveness at some point. Having your loan forgiven means that you may only have to pay a portion of the loan you took out. In certain situations, you may not have to pay anything at all.
According to the Department of Education, the types of student loan forgiveness include public service loan forgiveness and teacher loan forgiveness. You can qualify for public service loan forgiveness if you work for the government or a non-profit organization. Teacher loan forgiveness can take effect if you teach full-time at a low-income school or educational service agency for at least five consecutive school years.
Federal student loans can also be discharged for reasons such as bankruptcy, death, disability, false certification, school closure, and an unpaid refund.
What Is the Great Lakes Emergency Grant Program?
Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates has provided $7.2 million to 32 colleges and universities via their Emergency Dash Grants. These Emergency Dash Grants are designed to help schools put students in a better position to succeed.
Along with the supplemental funding provided by Great Lakes’ partner schools, low-income students have been given access to $7.7 million in grants.
What Are the Common Issues People Encounter When Dealing with Great Lakes?
While you can indeed reach customer service representatives easily when contacting Great Lakes, you may not always get the answers or assistance you need right away. If your concerns are fairly simple and common, the representatives may be able to help you immediately. For those with more specific problems that require people with more experience, expect to spend more time staying on the line and waiting for someone who can help.
It can be quite frustrating.
Another issue that pops up often is related to their income-driven repayment plan. In the past, Great Lakes has made mistakes when it comes to encoding the right amount of money borrowers have to pay on these plans.
Check your account right away to see if the terms are as they should be.
Great Lakes’ Contact Information
For the students out there interested in working with Great Lakes, their contact number is (800) 246-1700. You can also contact them via their website here.
Correspondence by Mail:
PO Box 7860
Madison, WI 53707-7860
How Do You File a Complaint?
Over the course of your working relationship with Great Lakes, you may run into some problems. Apart from contacting the company directly to have your concerns addressed, you can also file a complaint to help protect other borrowers and yourself.
Both the Better Business Bureau and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can handle your complaints. The Better Business Bureau works to get a response from the target of the complaint within 14 days while the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should get back to you with a response from the company within 15 days.
The Bottom Line
There’s no guarantee that your experience of working with Great Lakes will be problem-free, but thus far, the company has shown that it is more than capable of serving as a reliable student loan servicer. Thanks to their convenient offerings, you can easily keep track and manage your loan.
Furthermore, if there are problems that pop up, you can clear them up with Great Lakes, although doing so may take a bit of time.
Great Lakes definitely has room for improvement, but even at present, they are a worthy option to consider if you’re looking for a student loan servicer.