Let’s face it, repaying your student loans can be quite overwhelming, especially if you’re new at it. I may have spent my senior year of college interning at Federal Student Aid, but when my first student loan bill came in the mail, I’ll admit, I had no idea where to begin.
One of my first questions was, “Who do I pay?” I knew I had only federal student loans, but I kept getting letters and e-mails from Sallie Mae.* Why was that? If you asked yourself a similar question, this may help.
*Sallie Mae is my federal student loan servicer, but may not be yours. Here is a complete list of the federal student loan servicers.
Why am I receiving federal student loan bills from a company rather than the U.S. Department of Education?
Those bills you get in the mail are coming from one of the U.S. Department of Education’s federal student loan servicers. These loan servicers are companies that work on behalf of the Department of Education to help you understand your student loans and to facilitate payments.
Note: Even though you make your monthly payments to your loan servicer, your loans are still federal student loans and are owned by the Department of Education.
What can a loan servicer help me with?
Loan servicers do more than just collect payments from you. Your loan servicer is there to ensure that you, as a federal student loan borrower, get the customer service and repayment support you need to successfully repay your student loan.
Your loan servicer can help you:
- Choose or change your repayment plan, which can make your payments more affordable;
- Learn about loan consolidation or your options for forgiveness, cancellation or discharge; and
- Understand how your student loan works.
How do I find out how many loans I have and who my loan servicer is?
To view information about all of the federal student loans you have received and to find contact information for your loan servicer, visit www.nslds.ed.gov and select “Financial Aid Review.” You will then be prompted to log in using your Federal Student Aid PIN, so make sure you have that handy.
Note: If you have multiple federal student loans, you may have more than one loan servicer, so make sure you click through each loan individually for information specific to that loan.
If you also have private student loans, I recommend getting a free copy of your credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com to identify them.
Not sure what kind of loans you have? It’s best to look at nslds.ed.gov and get a free credit report too. Then you’ll know about all of your loans right away.
Moral of the story: Your loan servicer is here to help.
Trust me, as a recent college graduate, I know how difficult it can be to make these payments every month. Truthfully, I still get anxious every time that payment comes out of my bank account. But that’s all the more reason to stay in touch with your loan servicer. Whether you’re having trouble making your payments or you just want advice about which repayment option is best for you, they can help.
Nicole Callahan is a new media analyst at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.