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Great Lakes Higher Education Corp. is one of nine companies that service federal loan debt by collecting and tracking payments. If Great Lakes is your student loan servicer, here’s what it can help you do.
Register for online access to your account. Once you have access you can contact Great Lakes, access your monthly billing statements and pay bills.
Enroll in autopay. Great Lakes can deduct your payments automatically from your bank account. Signing up for autopay will reduce your interest rate by 0.25%.
Process deferment and forbearance requests. Great Lakes can help you temporarily stop making payments or reduce your payment amount if you qualify. This helps you stay in good standing to avoid default. But during any periods of deferment or forbearance, interest can continue to build.
Process monthly payments and extra payments. Great Lakes will track and collect your payments. If you want to make additional payments, you can instruct Great Lakes (online, by phone or by mail) to apply extra payments to your current balance. Otherwise, it may apply the additional amount to next month’s payment instead.
Your loan servicer is assigned by the U.S. Department of Education when your loan is disbursed to your college for the first time. The name of the company sending you a federal loan bill every month is your servicer. If your loan payments haven’t begun or you’re not sure which company is your servicer, log in to My Federal Student Aid to find out. You can also get in touch with any of the loan servicer contact centers by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID.
Servicers are there to help you, but they may offer choices that are best for the company, not the borrower. That means they can’t change how payments are processed and may not suggest the most beneficial repayment option for you. It’s most important to know your repayment options so you can know the right questions to ask.
If Great Lakes reported your account in error during auto forbearance
Nearly 5 million borrowers whose federal student loans are serviced by Great Lakes may have seen their credit scores dip because their debts were erroneously reported to the major credit bureaus during the automatic six-month forbearance that began in March 2020.
Your paused payments may have been reported as “deferred” as a result of a coding error. The paused payments should have been reported as if you had made them. If you were current when forbearance began, for example, the status should be “current.”
Deferred status is not a scoring factor under FICO credit scoring formulas, the ones most commonly used to make lending decisions. But deferred status can lower the credit scores generated by VantageScore formulas — the scores most commonly offered for free to consumers as a way to track their credit history.
Great Lakes says it is working with credit reporting agencies to correct the inaccuracies. Once the information on the underlying credit report is correct, credit scores should be unaffected.
Borrowers should check their credit reports from each of the three credit reporting bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com, the free, government-run website.
Great Lakes asks that borrowers contact it directly if their credit reports are incorrect. Call 800-236-4300. Get more information on contacting Great Lakes customer service or making a complaint here.
Am I stuck with Great Lakes until my loans are paid off?
Loans are sometimes transferred from one servicer to another by the Department of Education.
The Department of Education is planning to shift the student loan servicing landscape by signing new servicing contracts with five companies to eventually take over all loan servicing. That means your loan servicer is likely to change. Great Lakes is scheduled to continue servicing loans through December 2021.
You’ll be notified when this happens and you’ll manage payments with the new servicer. All servicers deliver the same options and programs, but customer service may differ from one to another.
Otherwise, you are likely to remain with Great Lakes unless you act to switch servicers. Use this tool to find out what might work for you.
How to reach Great Lakes customer service
Great Lakes contact number: 800-236-4300
Great Lakes hours of operation: Monday - Friday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CT
Great Lakes address for loan payments:
ED-Held Loans Processed and Serviced by Great Lakes Dept of Education
P.O. Box 530229
Atlanta, GA 30353-0229
Lender-Held FFELP Loans Processed and Serviced by Great Lakes
Great Lakes P.O. Box 3059
Milwaukee, WI 53201-3059
Great Lakes address for general correspondence:
P.O. Box 7860
Madison, WI 53707-7860
Great Lakes website: mygreatlakes.org
How to complain about Great Lakes
If you’re having difficulty with Great Lakes that you have been unable to resolve, start by filing a complaint directly with its ombudsman. It’s the servicer’s highest customer service office. Call 866-348-0708 or email [email protected]. You can also log in to your Great Lakes account to file a complaint.
If your issue goes unresolved, you can also make complaints about Great Lakes to:
Make sure to keep records of conversations you have, including the day, time and customer service representative you spoke with. Keep copies of any letters, bills or emails about your account.
How to settle a dispute with Great Lakes
If a complaint doesn’t help, you can contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group. This method should be used only as a last resort, says the federal student aid office. Complete all information on the Ombudsman Information Checklist before contacting. When you’re ready to reach out, here’s how to get in touch:
By mail: U.S. Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman Group
P.O. Box 1843
Monticello, KY 42633
You can also reach out to a student loans nonprofit such as The Institute of Student Loan Advisors, which provides free dispute resolution.
The nine federal student loan servicers
Learn more about each of the federal loan servicers, including what they can do and how to contact.