Great Lakes Ending Student Loan Servicing: What to Expect in 2023

Great Lakes will stop managing federal student loans in 2023.
Eliza Haverstock
Anna Helhoski
By Anna Helhoski and  Eliza Haverstock 
Edited by Des Toups

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Great Lakes Higher Education Corp. is one of several companies that service federal loan debt by collecting and tracking payments. Great Lakes is in the process of transferring its portfolio to Nelnet, another federal student loan servicer. Nelnet acquired Great Lakes in 2018, but the two entities handled servicing separately.

Loan transferring from Great Lakes to Nelnet started in March 2022, and it is expected to continue through October 2023. If Great Lakes is your servicer, you can expect to be notified that your account will be transferred two weeks prior to your transfer date. You'll also receive notification from Nelnet once the transfer is complete and a new federal student loan account number.

Great Lakes will continue to forward payments to Nelnet, for at least 120 days after your transfer date, but you must set up a new online account with Nelnet after your loan transfers. You'll have to set all new payment preferences with Nelnet.

If Great Lakes is your servicer, you can prepare for the transfer by doing the following:

  • Download and save your payment history from your online account or request a copy from your servicer.

  • Update your contact information with your most recent address, phone number and email address.

Once your loan transfers to Nelnet, here’s what it can help you do.

  • Register for online access to your account. Once you have access you can contact Nelnet, access your monthly billing statements and pay bills.

  • Enroll in autopay. Nelnet can deduct your payments automatically from your bank account. Signing up for autopay will reduce your interest by 0.25 percentage point.

  • Sign up for income-driven repayment. You can request income-driven repayment, which limits your student loan payments to a percentage of your income, by completing a paper form with Nelnet. (You can apply online on and then recertify your income each year online as well.)

  • Process deferment and forbearance requests. Nelnet 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. Nelnet will track and collect your payments. If you want to make additional payments, you can instruct Nelnet (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, the free, government-run website.

Great Lakes asks that borrowers contact it directly if their credit reports are incorrect. Call 800-236-4300.

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 10 p.m. CT; Saturday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. CT

Great Lakes address for general correspondence:

Great Lakes

P.O. Box 7860

Madison, WI 53707-7860

Great Lakes website:

Great Lakes email: Complete the online form

Great Lakes social channels: Great Lakes Facebook & Great Lakes Twitter

How to complain about Great Lakes

If you’ve had difficulty with Great Lakes that you have been unable to resolve, start by filing a complaint directly with a customer service representative.

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. When you’re ready to reach out, here’s how to get in touch:

Phone: 877-557-2575

By mail: U.S. Department of Education

FSA Ombudsman Group

P.O. Box 1854

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 federal student loan servicers

Learn more about each of the federal loan servicers, including what they can do and how to contact.

Aidvantage (formerly Navient)

Edfinancial Services (formerly GSMR)

American Education Services manages only FFEL Program debt.

Default Resolution Group services only federal student loans in default.

ECSI is a servicer for borrowers with federal Perkins loans.

FedLoan Servicing is no longer active.

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