The Higher Education Loan Authority of Missouri — also known as MOHELA — is a nonprofit student loan servicer created in 1981 to service loans made under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program.
Today, MOHELA — like other major companies including FedLoan Servicing and Navient — services federal direct loans, the current federal loan program. That means it collects borrowers’ payments, answers questions about loans, and explains different repayment options if people need help with making payments.
Here’s what you should know about working with MOHELA, if it is your student loan servicer.
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MOHELA at a glance
- A nonprofit servicer of federal and private loans, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.
- Phone number: 888-866-4352. Staffed from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Central time Monday through Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.
- You can also contact MOHELA via its website and on Facebook and Twitter.
Start by creating an account on MOHELA’s new-user login portal. You’ll need your Social Security number and date of birth to complete the process. Once your account is set up, you can pay online or on your smartphone.
You also can make payments in other ways: by calling MOHELA’s customer service center, by using your bank’s online bill-pay service, or with a check by mail. A check takes the longest, so send it in at least one week before your bill’s due date. Include your 10-digit loan account number on the check.
If you sign up for auto debit — meaning your payments will automatically come out of your bank account on a set date — you may be able to get 0.25% off your interest rate depending on your lender. To sign up, click “Auto Debit” under the “Payment Assistance” section in the left column of your account’s home page.
There are four main ways:
- Pay off your accrued interest before your grace period ends.
- Pay more than your minimum monthly amount.
- Put extra payments toward higher-interest loans if you have multiple loans.
- Refinance to get a lower interest rate.
If you’re in school and chose not to make payments, the interest on your unsubsidized loans has been building up since you took out the loan. After your grace period ends and you officially enter the repayment period, that accrued interest will be capitalized, meaning it gets added to your original loan amount. If you can pay off some or all of the accrued interest before then, it will help reduce the overall cost of your loan.
Once you start making your regular monthly payments, remember that you can pay more than your minimum monthly amount. That may mean making an additional payment each month or paying more than the minimum through your auto-debit payment option.
For borrowers with multiple loans, those extra payments generally will be distributed evenly across all loans. But you also can choose to make targeted payments through your “Pay by Loan” option, where you can specify how extra payments are applied. That could mean targeting higher-interest loans first, which would reduce overall costs over the life of your loan, or paying off smaller loans first. To make a targeted payment, navigate to the “Make a Payment” section, located in the left column when you log in to your account, and specify how you’d like your payments to be applied in step three.
As you continue to make on-time payments, your credit score may increase as long as you’re addressing other factors that influence your score. Once it’s in good shape, check if student loan refinancing is right for you. It can help decrease both your interest rate and your monthly payment.
Contact MOHELA if you feel you won’t be able to make a payment. It can help you figure out which federal loan repayment plan is best for you or, if necessary, help you temporarily stop your payments through deferment or forbearance options.
If you’d like to change your federal loan repayment plan, MOHELA will direct you to apply on the federal StudentLoans.gov website.
If you’re having trouble making your payments, you also can use the Federal Student Aid repayment estimator to understand what your monthly payments could be on different repayment plans. If, for example, you’re out of work and don’t have any income, your payments could be as low as $0 per month on an income-driven repayment plan such as Revised Pay As You Earn or Income-Based Repayment. Or you could opt for the graduated repayment plan if your salary is low but you expect to make more money in the future.
MOHELA can help you figure out if you qualify for student loan forgiveness. The servicer also has a team to help service members and veterans go over military-related benefits and options.
You also can leave a question on its Facebook page or tweet the servicer.
Call its customer service center at 888-866-4352 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Central time Monday through Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. Have your 10-digit account number or Social Security number ready — it’s the first thing asked by the automated phone system.
Chat with a customer service representative through your online account.
Follow MOHELA on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+.
Contact the servicer’s student loan ombudsman if you’re not satisfied with the information provided by customer service by making a formal request on its website. You should get a response in three business days.
If you need an answer quickly, it’s best to call and speak directly with a representative.
When it comes to student loans, the worst thing you can do is ignore them. If you’re worried about making payments, always reach out to your loan servicer before it becomes a problem. Your servicer can help you go over your options and figure out the best way to get you back on track.