First off, we should define what a servicer is. Many people use the terms servicer and lender interchangeably, but a servicer helps you manage the loan, while a lender is the one who gives you the loan and sets the terms. With that in mind, can you change your student loan servicer? What if your servicer is unresponsive, or doesn’t give you any help? Here are a few things to keep in mind…
Servicers CAN change…
Although the federal government disburses federal student loans, government authorities don’t handle the loans themselves. Instead, the government assigns each student’s loan to a specific loan servicer who is responsible for handling all services associated with your federal student loan.
…but you don’t get to choose who or when
While your loan servicer may change during the life of the loan, the Department of Education clearly states that borrowers have no say in the matter. They do not get to select their loan servicer at the time of taking the loan. Nor do they get to change the servicer at any time during the life of the loan. In other words, the government gives the borrower no input.
In most cases, this may not matter. Most loan servicers handle your loan professionally and in accordance with the terms laid down by the federal government. However, this is bad news for those stuck with an unprofessional loan servicer who does not provide them with the advice or information they need to avoid a potential loan default. Unfortunately, there are bad loan servicers out there, who either don’t listen to the borrower, don’t talk to the borrower, or even make the borrower feel uncomfortable.
There are other methods
No matter how unhappy you are with your loan servicer, you cannot formally apply for a transfer. However, you can get your loan transferred by other means. Consolidating your federal student loans, signing up for public service loan forgiveness or refinancing with a private lender automatically transfers your loans to another servicer. You must be very careful and understand the pros and cons before you choose any of these options. Only consider it if any of these alternatives are beneficial to you. Don’t do it only to get your loan servicer changed as you could lose out on other benefits that the loan offers.
Federal student loans are more forgiving compared to private student loans. In other words, federal loans have more repayment options and usually a lower interest rate. Obviously, if your loan servicer just absolutely does not work with you, try to change your servicer. But keep in mind that while there are downsides to changing, but that’s nothing compared to defaulting. The loan servicer helps borrowers understand their student loans better so that borrowers don’t end up missing payments or not being able to pay at all.
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