Great Lakes Student Loans

If you are a college student, you may have received a letter in the mail from Great Lakes—not the series of freshwater lakes along the Canada-United States border—the student loan company. The student loan company’s official name is Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc. 

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If this company has reached out to you, you might have been unsure about who they are and what they do, but Great Lakes is an official servicer for federal student loans. In the below sections, we’ll discuss Great Lakes Educational Loan Services in greater detail.

What Is Great Lakes Educational Loan Services?

Great Lakes is a student loan servicer that is based out of Madison, Wisconsin but provides student loan services to borrowers nationwide. The company is contracted with the U.S. Department of Education, along with eight other companies, to oversee the billing of federal student loans. 

The company was purchased by Nelnet, a larger loan servicing company, and has serviced loans for over 8 million borrowers as of last year.  Great Lakes is currently in charge of overseeing the second largest portion of federal student loans out of all nine contractors.

So, how does the Department of Education divide up the student loans between loan servicers? The process generally goes like this:

  1. The Education Department communicates with your school to process your request for student loans.
  2. The request gets approved.
  3. Your loans get dispersed. 
  4. Your student loan account gets assigned to a loan servicer who will manage the billing from there on. 

Your student loan servicer must contact you as soon as they are assigned to oversee your loan. This is usually right after the first payment.

Why consider Great Lakes federal student loan consolidation?

What you decide to do with your loans after you graduate is an important part of borrowing. As an option for its lenders, the U.S. Department of Education offers The Direct Consolidation Loan program, which allows you to consolidate some or all of your federal student loans into one. In many cases, you are able to work with the consolidation servicer of your choice.

Here are the main benefits of choosing to combine multiple federal student loans into a single consolidation loan:

  • You will only be responsible for one loan.
  • Your consolidation loan will only have one fixed interest rate.
  • You will only have to pay one monthly payment. 
  • You get to choose your student loan services.
  • There is no fee to consolidate.

This is an option that works well for some borrowers, but it’s not for everyone. Make sure you familiarize yourself with all of the details of a consolidation loan before making your decision.

How to create your student loan repayment strategy

That initial six-month period after graduating college is the time that most fresh grads are immersing themselves into the working world and becoming responsible adults. One of those responsibilities involves the beginning of student loan repayment. If this resonates with you, it’s a good idea to start exploring your options for loan repayment. 

The good thing about Great Lakes, since they are a federal loan servicer, is that they not only offer different repayment plans, they also offer plans for postponing your payments as well as loan forgiveness.  

Once you know how much you owe, you can start factoring this amount into your income and organizing a budget. Choosing a repayment plan that works for you is contingent on how much you owe, how much you make, and how much you can afford to pay each month including interest rates. Great Lakes offers an interactive Repayment Planner tool to help you make smart decisions about your loan repayment strategy. 

To help you conquer the task of paying back your student loans, the repayment planner will display:

  • A dashboard where you can view your current plan, how much you have paid so far, how much you owe and how you will repay it should you continue with your current plan.
  • A mapped-out timeline of what is to come until the end of your repayment plan.
  • Your total loan balance and the date of your final payment. 
  • Tips for how you can accomplish your loan repayment goals, which may mean a change of plans.
  • Detailed information about each of your loans. 

Take peace of mind in knowing that you are not tied down to a particular repayment plan once you have signed up for one. Life takes unexpected turns that we are not always prepared for, and for this reason, you can always change plans. Whether it’s to make higher or lower monthly payments each month, you can always adjust your repayment plan accordingly.

The benefits of working with Great Lakes

Once your student loans kick in, Great Lakes will be your go-to for any and all questions related to your federal student loans. Even if you are still in school and have questions related to your balance, Great Lakes customer service is there to answer questions and chat with you about how everything works. 

However, once it’s time for you to start making payments on your loans, Great Lakes can provide you with:

  • Assistance if you are having trouble making payments.
  • Your options for switching repayment plans, such as an income-driven plan.
  • Help applying for deferment or forbearance of your student loans.
  • Information about loan consolidation. 

You can contact Great Lakes for information about your student loans or advice on repayment options by:

  • Logging into your Great Lakes account.
  • Phone: (800) 236-4300 Mon-Fri from 7 am to 9 pm Central Time.
  • Submitting a request on Great Lakes’ contact page.
  • Mail: Great Lakes, P.O. Box 7860, Madison, WI 53707-7860
  • Fax: (800) 375-5288