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Great Lakes: What is Great Lakes?

Great Lakes is one of nine federal student loan servicers that works with the U.S. Department of Education to manage student loans.

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What is Great Lakes? You may have received letters or emails from Great Lakes and wondered who they are. Great Lakes is a legitimate student loan servicer that works with the U.S. Department of Education to manage federal student loans.

What is Great Lakes?

Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc. (“Great Lakes”) is one of the largest federal student loan servicers in the U.S. It is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2018, it joined another student loan servicer, Nelnet.

Great Lakes is one of the nine federal student loan servicers.

What is a federal student loan servicer? When you take out a federal loan from the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Education will assign you to one of the nine loan servicers, who are approved to work with them. Great Lakes is one of these loan servicers.

How did you end up with Great Lakes?

When you take out a federal student loan from the U.S. Department of Education, they will assign you a loan servicer when your loan amount is first paid out to your school.

What is a loan servicer?

A loan servicer is a company that manages the billing and other services on your federal student loan. There is no cost to you for using Great Lakes.

Your loan servicer will, for example, send you federal loan bills, receive loan payments from you, and work with you on loan consolidation and repayment plans.

Is Great Lakes the lender?

Great Lakes is not the lender. The lender of your federal student loans is the U.S. Department of Education.

Do I choose to use Great Lakes?

No, you do not choose who your loan servicer is. The U.S. Department of Education assigns you a loan servicer.

Sometimes the U.S. Department of Education will transfer loans from one servicer to another servicer. When this happens, you will be notified. Your loans are still owned by the U.S. Department of Education, but the company who will be sending you loan bills and collecting your loan payments will change.

How does Great Lakes work with you?

Great Lakes provides a range of services to students who have federal student loans from the U.S. Department of Education.

Set up your online account
Create an online account access your loan information, make payments, review loan details, update your contact information, sign up for email correspondence, and more.
Get the mobile app
Check your balance, make payments, and send and receive messages through the Great Lakes app, available in Google Play and the App Store.
Make automatic online payments
Set up auto payments from your bank account to your federal student loan servicer and you may receive a 0.25% interest rate deduction.
Give your parents or spouse access to your account
Provide your parents or spouse access to your loan account.
Sign up for income-driven repayment plans
You can sign up for an income-driven repayment plan. This may lower your monthly payments, which are based on your income, family size, loan balance, and type of federal student loan. After making 20-25 years of loan payments, your remaining loan balance may be forgiven.
Change repayment plan
You can change your repayment plan type. Great Lakes offers several types of repayment plans which are based on length of time and income.
Make extra payments
You can choose to repay more than what your repayment plan states. This may reduce how much you pay later.
Postpone payments
If you are unable to make your monthly payment, you can contact Great Lakes to request deferment or forbearance.
Sign up for loan forgiveness
Under certain circumstances, such as working in public service or working as a teacher in low-income schools, you may be able to have your loan forgiven.
Sign up for military benefits
Great Lakes offers benefits to those in the military including deferments, interest caps, public service loan forgiveness, and more.

How to confirm Great Lakes is your loan servicer

If you are not sure if Great Lakes is your loan servicer, you can check this in two ways.

My Federal Student Aid

You can go to My Federal Student Aid, a U.S. Department of Education website, to see information about all of your federal loans, including who your loan servicer is.

Federal Student Aid Information Center

You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC), a U.S. Department of Education center.

Federal Student Aid Information Center phone number:
1-800-433-3243

Sample Great Lakes bill

If Great Lakes is your loan servicer, you should receive bills that look like the one below.

Is Great Lakes legit?

Great Lakes is a legitimate student loan servicer. It is one of nine federal student loan servicers, and is one of the largest student loan servicers.

Great Lakes received a B- rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Decades of experience in the student loan servicing industry

Great Lakes works with over 6,000 schools and 1,000 lenders. It has over 51 years of experience.

Good performance according to the U.S. of Education

The U.S. Department of Education measures the performance of its loan servicers and based on this, decides on how many student loans to allocate to each servicer. Those that perform well receive higher allocations.

Great Lakes has been allocated the highest amount, at 19% or approximately 1 in 5 loans, as of June 2019.

Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) registered

Great Lakes is registered with the NMLS and and the NMLS ID 218642. The NMLS is a record system for financial licensing and registration.

Can I switch from Great Lakes to a new student loan servicer?

The U.S. Department of Education may transfer loans from one servicer to another. When this occurs, you will be notified. However, you do not get to select your federal student loan servicer.

The only time you can change your student loan servicer if when you:

  1. Consolidate your loans
  2. Apply for public student loan forgiveness

Alternatively, you can refinance with a private lender. By doing this, you forfeit federal loan forgiveness programs and income-driven repayment plans. Instead of having your loan managed by the U.S. Department of Education and Great Lakes, your loan will instead be managed by a private bank, online lender, or credit union.

What if you can’t afford your payments to Great Lakes

Great Lakes offers several different repayment plans. If your circumstance make it difficult for you to repay under any of these plans, you can call Great Lakes at 1-800-236-4300 to discuss alternatives.

How to contact Great Lakes

There are several ways to contact Great Lakes.

By telephone

Great Lakes telephone number:
Toll-Free: 1-800-236-4300
International: 608-246-1700 TTY: 711

You may need your social security number or account number when calling Great Lakes.

Great Lakes hours of operation:
Monday - Friday: 7 a.m. - 9 p.m., Central Time

Great Lakes observes the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day

By email

You can email Great Lakes by filling out this form.

Calling will give you a faster response.

By mail

Great Lakes address for general correspondence:
Do not send payments to this address.

Great Lakes
PO Box 7860
Madison, WI 53707-7860

By fax

Great Lakes fax number:
Toll-Free: 1-800-375-5288
International: 608-246-1608

When sending Great Lakes a fax, include this fax cover sheet.

Online

Great Lakes website: https://mygreatlakes.org/

Great Lakes student loan login: https://mygreatlakes.org/educate/login.html

Great Lakes social media:

Great Lakes mobile apps:

How to submit a complaint about Great Lakes

If you are having problems with Great Lakes, there are several ways to file a complaint.

Great Lakes

You can file a complaint directly with Great Lakes by contacting a Great Lakes representative.

Great Lakes telephone number:
Toll-Free: 1-800-236-4300
International: 608-246-1700 TTY: 711

Great Lakes hours of operation:
Monday - Friday: 7 a.m. - 9 p.m., Central Time

By email:
You can email Great Lakes by filling out this form.

By mail:
Great Lakes
PO Box 7860
Madison, WI 53707-7860

By fax:
Toll-Free: 1-800-375-5288
International: 608-246-1608

File a formal complain with Great Lakes

If your issues are not resolved by contacting Great Lakes, you can file a formal complain with Great Lakes.

You can send a letter that includes your information and issues to the following mailing address.

Great Lakes
PO Box 7860
Madison, WI 53707-7860

U.S Department of Education Federal Student Aid Feedback System

You can file a complaint with Federal Student Aid at the U.S. Department of Education through their feedback system. File a complaint here.

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

You can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a private, non-profit organization that accredits and rates businesses. File a complaint here.

Complaints filed with the BBB are forwarded to Great Lakes within two business days, and Great Lakes will be asked to respond within 14 days. If Great Lakes does not respond, the BBB will reach out to them again.

BBB complaints are generally closed within 30 business days.

U.S Department of Education Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group

As a last resort, you can contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group, a confidential resource to help resolve disputes about your federal student loans. File a complaint here.

The Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group can help you resolve problems with loan balances and payments, disbursements, overpayments, and more.

They provide an information checklist to help prepare for your conversation.

FAQ

Is Great Lakes a federal or private loan?

Great Lakes is neither a federal or a private loan. It is a private company that is a loan servicers. They service both private and federal loans.

If you have a federal loan, Great Lakes may be your federal student loan servicer. For example, they will send loan payment bills, receive loan payments, and work with you on loan consolidation and repayment plans.

Is Great Lakes a government agency?

No, Great Lakes is a private company that works with the government to service student loans.

Does Great Lakes do loan forgiveness?

Yes, Great Lakes will forgive federal student loans depending on the circumstance. There are two loan forgiveness programs:

  1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
  2. Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you work for the government or a not-for-program organization, and have made 120 payments on your loans, you may be eligible to have your Direct Loans forgiven.

Direct Loans are loans made under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program and include:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans for Parents
  • Direct Grade PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans
  • Direct PLUS Consolidation Loans

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Teachers who have taught for five full and consecutive academic years in low-income schools may be eligible to have up to $17,500 of their Direct Loan or FFELP program loans forgiven.

Federal student loan servicers

There are nine federal student loan servicers. Learn more about who they are, what they do, and how to contact them.