|The Department of Education has contracts with a number of loan servicers. If you are not sure who your loan servicer is, you can look up this information at www.nslds.ed.gov or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID. This can be confusing because the Department transferred servicers for many borrowers. You should not have to reapply for deferments, forbearances, or other programs when your loan is transferred. However, you will generally have to sign up for Web payments and electronic correspondence after a transfer. The new servicer is supposed to let you know how to do this. These problems should improve due to the Department’s efforts to transfer accounts so that borrowers have only one servicer for all of their federal student loans. There is a separate section of the Department’s web site on servicing and collections.|
If you believe your account balance is wrong, ask your loan holder for a statement that shows all payments made on your student loan account. If you believe payments that you made were not credited to your account, you will need to provide proof that these payments were made.
For federal loans, the Department generally assigns you a servicer and says that you cannot switch! (See the Department’s answer to the question about whether borrowers select loan servicers). However, if you are consolidating your loans, you can choose among four servicers: FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA), Great Lakes, Nelnet, or Navient (formerly Sallie Mae). —- Sallie Mae announced in February 2014 that it was splitting into two companies, Navient and Sallie Mae. The new company, Navient, services federal student loans and a majority of existing Sallie Mae private loans.
You may want to contact the CFPB if you are having trouble with servicers of either federal or private student loans. You should also contact your loan servicer directly. Department of Education loan servicers are supposed to do more than just collect payments. They should also help with questions about loan consolidation, cancellations, and other programs. You can learn about and apply for these programs for free. Beware of “debt relief” companies that charge (often a lot of money) for these same services that you can do for free. You should also not give these companies access to your student aid information. They shouldn’t be asking for it, but most do!
ALERT: In April 2016, the Department of Education announced a new competition for federal student loan servicing. The Department is proposing a number of changes, including the creation of a uniform set of customer service standards, single loan management platform and Department-branded portal. Stay tuned!
For private student loans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has extensive information to help you deal with private student loan servicers. This advisory from October 2013 helps borrowers pay off their loans more quickly.
The Department of Education Ombudsman gives these tips for staying in touch with loan servicers:
Tips for Dealing with Your Loan Servicer*
It is usually best to communicate with your loan servicer in writing, because you’ll have a physical record of what has been said and done.
Keep a record of events. If you speak with someone on the phone, make a note of whom you speak to and when, and what was said. If you use the mail, keep a copy of your letter and of any replies you receive.
Keep the evidence. Retain the originals of all receipts, bills, letters and e-mails regarding your account. Provide copies of the originals if you are asked for them. Send letters via certified mail, with a return receipt requested.
Stay calm. If you have confronted someone directly, don’t let the emotion of the moment get to you. If you are clearly not getting an adequate response, simply take the next step in the procedure for resolving your problems yourself.
Write clearly and concisely. Be polite and courteous, but don’t be afraid to convey the detail of any incident and to articulate your concerns. Write down the facts in a logical order and stick to what is relevant. Remember to include important details like your account number or social security number. Put these details at the top of your letter.
Agree on a reasonable time to expect a response. Ask for a response in a reasonable time, and be sure to tell the person how you can be reached.
*The Federal Student Aid Ombudsman of the Department of Education