By: Chief Operating Officer Mark Brown, Federal Student Aid
You may have heard that changes are coming to student loan servicing, and that’s true.
But, there’s no need to panic. Your loan servicer will not be changing this year.
In fact, long before your loan servicer changes, we’ll communicate with you. We’ll make sure you have lots of advance notice, we’ll explain how your loans will be serviced going forward, and we’ll make sure your account transfer is as seamless as possible.
As a matter of fact, we’ve set out to make all of your experiences with federal student aid better. In 2017, Federal Student Aid (FSA) launched the Next Gen FSA initiative to bring the federal student aid experience into the 21st century and improve how you—students, parents, borrowers, and schools—interact with our programs. Things we’ve done include making the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form easier to access and complete and making it easier for you to manage your federal student loans by giving you helpful tools and resources, such as the PSLF Help Tool and Loan Simulator.
The things we’re doing are addressing your pain points with the federal student aid programs. One thing we’ve heard from you is that it can be confusing knowing where to go or who to call for information you can trust when you need it.
That’s why a big part of the work we’re doing for you is giving loan servicing a makeover. Did you know that now, instead of calling one of nine loan servicers, you only have to call 1-800-4-FED-AID to get your call routed to the right place? That’s only the beginning!
Earlier this month, we awarded contracts to some companies that will be responsible for all kinds of contact with you, including answering any type of calls, sending email communications, engaging in chats, and answering social media inquiries. The companies also will process the millions of forms our customers and postsecondary schools submit each year.
The work covered by the newly awarded contracts includes more than answering loan servicing-type questions; it’s for anything you can think of related to federal student aid, such as FAFSA questions, questions about grants, and questions from financial aid professionals from schools around the world.
Even though we awarded the contracts, these companies won’t start doing this work immediately. We’ve got to first put the tools, technology, and training in place to ensure that you get the right answer with every interaction.
To make sure there’s no interruption with your current loan servicer, we’ve made it possible to extend the servicing work for FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA), Great Lakes, Navient, and Nelnet through December 2021 and for CornerStone, Granite State – GSMR, HESC/Edfinancial, MOHELA, and OSLA Servicing through March 2022.
When the time comes to transition your account into the Next Gen environment, you’ll receive emails, messaging on social media, and a wide array of other communications about what to expect and how to continue to manage your account.
For now, there’s no impact to how your federal student loans are serviced.
Mark Brown is the chief operating officer of Federal Student Aid. He’s a proud grad of Tuskegee University, where he received federal student aid. Mark is also an advocate for quality and accessible education for all. Follow him on Twitter, @FSACOO.