Great Lakes Student Loans Review: How to Find the Right Repayment Plan

Great Lakes Student Loans Review: How to Find the Right Repayment Plan

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Great Lakes is one of the major servicers for federal student loans. While it was acquired by another student loan servicing giant, Nelnet, Great Lakes continues to work with borrowers under its name. If you have Great Lakes student loans, read on to learn how you can take advantage of the benefits your servicer offers and pay off your loans.

Great Lakes student loans review: the basics
What we like about Great Lakes
What to keep in mind about Great Lakes
Paying off your Great Lakes student loans

Great Lakes student loans review: the basics

Great Lakes primarily services federal student loans, but it also processes private student loans as well.

Whatever type of student loan you have, you’ll make payments through the Great Lakes online portal. You do this manually, though if you want to put your payments on autopilot and save some money on interest on your Direct Loan, you can sign up for autopay, which automatically withdraws payments from your bank account each month.

If you have federal student loans, you’ll be placed on the standard 10-year plan with fixed monthly payments. But Great Lakes can help you choose an alternative repayment plan if your bills on the standard plan are too burdensome.

As your student loan servicer, Great Lakes should help you find the right plan for successful debt payoff. Read on for more details about some of the payment plan choices on your Great Lakes student loans.

What we like about Great Lakes

Great Lakes offers resources and support to student loan borrowers. Below are four ways this servicer can help if you have Great Lakes student loans.

1. Helps you apply for a variety of student loan repayment plans

If you have federal student loans with Great Lakes, note that your loans come with a variety of repayment options, including the standard 10-year plan, income-driven repayment (IDR) and extended repayment.

If you don’t apply for an alternative plan, your student loans will remain on the standard plan. But if you’re struggling with your monthly payments, you might want to consider switching to one of these other possibilities.

Income-driven repayment: This adjusts your monthly payment to a set percentage of your disposable income, as well as extends your repayment terms to 20 or 25 years. Any remaining balance at the end of your term will be forgiven. IDR plans include Income-Based Repayment, Income-Contingent Repayment, Pay As You Earn and Revised Pay As You Earn. Click on the link above for more details.
Extended Repayment Plan: This plan lowers your monthly payments by extending your repayment term to up to 25 years.
Graduated Repayment Plan: The graduated plan lowers your monthly payments but then increases them over a 10-year period, which can be a good choice for borrowers who expect to see their incomes rise in the future.

While putting your Great Lakes student loans on an IDR or Extended Repayment Plan can give you financial relief, it will also keep you in debt longer. As a result, you’ll pay more in interest than you would if you stayed on the 10-year plan. Before switching your repayment plan, make sure to think through all the pros and cons.

Note that private student loans aren’t eligible for these federal repayment plans. They typically don’t have as much flexibility when it comes to repayment, though some lenders offer forbearance if you run into financial hardship. In this case, you might also want to consider refinancing student loans, which lets you choose new repayment terms, regardless of whether the existing loans are federal or private if you qualify.

If you’re struggling with private student loans serviced by Great Lakes, speak with a Great Lakes specialist about your options.

2. Accepts payments while you’re still in school

Student loans come with a grace period, meaning you don’t have to start making payments until you’ve been out of school for six months. But some types of loans start accruing interest from the date they’re disbursed, so you’ll be facing a larger balance than what you initially borrowed at the end of your grace period.

If you want to stop your balance from growing too much while you’re in school, you could make small payments as a student. You can make payments on your Great Lakes student loans while you’re still in school. If you can swing it, in-school payments could make it easier to repay your loans once you graduate.

3. Offers a useful repayment planner tool to borrowers

After signing into your online account, you’ll find a repayment planner tool that lets you play around with different repayment plans for your Great Lakes student loans.

Enter your loan amount and interest rate, and the tool will give you your monthly payments (and how much interest you’ll pay) on different plans. It can also help you see the effects of each repayment plan on your balance and length of repayment so that you can choose the best approach for your debt.

4. Provides social media support

As a Great Lakes student loan borrower, you can reach out to Great Lakes via phone or email. But you might not know you can also get assistance through social media. You can ask questions via the Great Lakes Facebook and Twitter pages. You might also pick up useful information from questions that other borrowers have asked.

That said, if your question is account-specific or involves private information, Great Lakes will address it with you over the phone or through a secure message. They can be reached Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Central Time at 1-800-236-4300 or via email at

What to keep in mind about Great Lakes

Although federal student loan servicers are supposed to educate borrowers about their options and help them manage repayment, they don’t always fulfill this mission. In some cases, servicers have faced government lawsuits.

While some borrowers with student loans serviced by Great Lakes speak positively about the service, there are also customers who’ve complained about errors with processing their payments or applications for IDR plans. Others have said Great Lakes didn’t apply their extra payments to their student loan balance in the right way.

Based on customer ratings with ConsumerAffairs as of March 12, 2020, Great Lakes had only one star out of a possible five for overall satisfaction. That said, dissatisfied customers may be more likely than satisfied ones to review their loan servicers online.

If you have Great Lakes student loans, you don’t have to rely entirely on your loan servicer for information on your options. You can look to other trusted resources to learn about repayment options and make the right decision for your debt. And if you’re requesting an IDR plan or making extra payments on your debt, double-check that Great Lakes has applied everything correctly.

Although this might require some extra due diligence on your part, it could be worth it to make sure your debt is being properly managed. Meanwhile, if you’re dissatisfied with Great Lakes for any reason, you can choose a new loan servicer by consolidating your debt with a Direct Consolidation Loan or refinancing with a private lender.

Paying off your Great Lakes student loans

Borrowers in the Class of 2019 graduated college with an average of $29,900 in student loans. Debt of this magnitude can take a long time to pay off, meaning you could be working with your student loan servicer for years.

If you’ve got Great Lakes student loans, don’t be afraid to reach out to it with any questions or concerns. As your student loan servicer, its job is to help you manage your student loans in the best way for your financial situation.

At the same time, monitor your account to ensure nothing has slipped through the cracks. By staying proactive, you can make the best financial decisions as you pay off your student debt.

Melanie Lockert contributed to this article.

Interested in refinancing student loans?
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LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
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Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 4.25% APR (with Auto Pay) to 8.77% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 3.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 8.72% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 3/18/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit, email us at, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers.

Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures

Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.


There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.


For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
For eligible Associates degrees in the healthcare field (see Eligibility & Eligible Loans section below), Lender will refinance up to $50,000 in loans for non-ParentPlus refinance loans. Note, parents who are refinancing loans taken out on behalf of a child who has obtained an associates degrees in an eligible healthcare field are not subject to the $50,000 loan maximum, refer to for more information about refinancing ParentPlus loans.


Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).

Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.

All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to for applicable terms and conditions.

For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.


The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.


The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.


After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship.

We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.

We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.

If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.


This information is current as of March 4, 2020 and is subject to change.

Important Disclosures for SoFi.
SoFi Disclosures
Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 4.25% APR to 6.94% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 3.50% APR to 6.94% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 3.50% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.93% plus 3.07% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.72% effective March 10, 2020.

3.50% – 8.72%1 Undergrad & Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.58% – 7.06%2 Undergrad & Graduate

Visit Splash

1.99% – 6.65%3 Undergrad & Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

3.50% – 6.94%4 Undergrad & Graduate

Visit SoFi

3.38% – 5.64%5 Undergrad & Graduate

Visit CommonBond

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

The post Great Lakes Student Loans Review: How to Find the Right Repayment Plan appeared first on Student Loan Hero.

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