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Frequently Asked Questions

Account Access

How do I sign up for account access on mygreatlakes.org?

Setting up your login information is fast, easy, and can be completed in a few simple steps. Click sign up at the top of any page to get started. Account access on mygreatlakes.org is available to anyone with a student loan serviced or guaranteed by Great Lakes.

Once you've completed the signup process, you can log in anytime to view information about your loans and the repayment options available to you.

I'm having trouble logging in. What should I do?

Don't worry—it happens to all of us at one time or another. If you forgot your user ID, password, or PIN, or if you're receiving an error message, follow the steps on Trouble Accessing Your Account.

About Great Lakes

What is a student loan guarantor?

A student loan guarantor's primary mission is to manage the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) on behalf of the federal government. Duties range from enforcing federal student loan rules and regulations to counseling student loan borrowers who may be unable to make their payments. This guarantee allows lenders to be reimbursed for loans that may default. (Federal student loans default when borrowers do not make any payments on their loans for 270-360 days and do not make special arrangements with their lender to get a deferment, forbearance, or other form of payment relief.)

What is a student loan servicer?

A student loan servicer provides you with the tools and resources you need to successfully manage your loan—from the point your first loan amount is disbursed (delivered) through your school, to the point you've entirely paid off your loans. At Great Lakes, our servicing role includes:

  • Keeping you up-to-date with information about your student loans.
  • Monitoring your school enrollment and status while you're in school.
  • Assisting you as you pay back your loans.
  • Helping you find the best repayment plan for your budget.
  • If consolidation is right for you, guiding you to complete the application where you'll be asked to choose one of the U.S. Department of Education's consolidation servicers, of which, Great Lakes is one of them.

Get to Know Great Lakes and How We Help

Through a rigorous application process, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) selected Great Lakes and a few others to service federal student loans. You can find out which organizations are servicing your federal student loans by visiting the National Student Loan Data System.

What is a student loan originator?

A student loan originator assists with your loan application. Great Lakes has been one of the largest and most respected originators in the country. In this role, we've helped millions of students successfully apply for, and receive, student loans.

Through a rigorous application process, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) approved Great Lakes to originate Direct Consolidation loans. If consolidation is a good solution for you, we can guide you to:

  • Information to help you make an informed decision.
  • Gather important application information from mygreatlakes.org and the National Student Loan Data System.
  • Complete the application on ED's website, where you'll be asked to choose one of the U.S. Department of Education's consolidation servicers.
  • Stay informed about your application's progress using your mygreatlakes.org account.

Once the application is completed and approved, for loans serviced by Great Lakes, we'll become your servicer. You'll begin making payments toward your new loan, and we'll provide you with the tools and resources needed to successfully manage your loan.

You, Your Loan, and Great Lakes

  1. You, Borrower

    DECIDE

    You apply for a Direct Consolidation loan.

  2. Us, Originator

    APPLICATION STATUS & APPROVAL

    For loans serviced by Great Lakes, contact us for help. We review, monitor, and approve your application.

  3. Lender

    MONEY

    Your existing loans are paid off. Your new consolidation loan is funded.

  4. Us, Servicer

    WELCOME TO GREAT LAKES SERVICING

    We provide you with all of the tools needed to successfully repay your loan.

  5. You, Borrower

    STAY IN TOUCH

    Access your mygreatlakes.org account to keep your contact information updated and receive important loan information. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

What is the difference between a Direct and a FFELP student loan, and which types of loans does Great Lakes service?

As one of the nation's leading student loan servicers, Great Lakes services Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans, Federal Direct Loan Program (Direct Lending) loans, and private loans.

  • FFELP loans were funded by private lenders, such as banks or credit unions, and are guaranteed by the federal government. This guarantee allows lenders to be reimbursed for loans that may subsequently default. FFELP loans are sometimes called lender-held or commercially-held loans.
  • Direct Lending loans are funded by the federal government and do not need a guarantor. The federal student loan program shifted from FFELP loans to Direct loans in July 2010. Since then, all federal loans have been made through Direct Lending. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) lends the money, disburses (delivers) it to you through your school, and your servicer helps you manage the loan. Direct loans are sometimes called federally-held loans.
  • Private student loans are funded by private lenders, such as banks or credit unions. There are no federal forms to complete and eligibility can depend on your credit score. They are sometimes called alternative education loans.

How can I contact Great Lakes?

How can I provide feedback to Great Lakes?

About Student Loans

What's the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized federal student loans?

The main difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans is who is responsible to pay the interest on the loan while you are enrolled in school at least half-time.

  • With subsidized loans, the federal government pays the interest on the loan while you're in school at least half-time and during a deferment.
  • With unsubsidized loans, the borrower is responsible to pay the interest on the loan.

How do I know what type of federal loan I have?

It's easy to find out what type of federal loan you have.

  • Log in to mygreatlakes.org, if you haven't already, and view your Account Summary. The Account Details for each loan will tell you the loan type, interest rate, lender, loan balance, and more.
  • You can also visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). It tracks all outstanding federal student loans until they are paid in full. It provides a listing of each loan, the loan amount, and the total of all of your loans. You will need your Federal Student Aid ID to access the information.

Do I need to pay interest while I'm in school?

No. You are not required to pay interest while you're enrolled in school at least half-time.

If you borrowed:

  • Subsidized loans. The government pays the interest on the loan while you're in school or in a deferment (postponement).
  • Unsubsidized loans. You aren't required to pay interest while you're in school or in a deferment (postponement). But interest will accrue and capitalize. If you pay the interest while you're in school, it will save you money in the long run.
  • Parent PLUS loans. You aren't required to pay interest if you deferred (postponed) the payments while the student is enrolled at least half-time. But interest will accrue and capitalize.

Log in to mygreatlakes.org, if you haven't already, and find out what types of loans you borrowed and if interest is accruing while you're in school.

What happens to my loans if I drop out of school, take a leave of absence, or attend less than half-time?

While you're enrolled in school at least half-time, you aren't required to make payments on your loans. Simply contact your school to determine what is considered half-time enrollment.

If you're enrolled in school less than half-time, you'll need to begin making payments once your grace period is over. If you are:

  • Able to make full payments, that's great! It's the fastest way to pay off your loans and reduces how much you'll pay in interest.
  • Unable to make full payments, but can pay a lower amount, you have options. View different repayment options that may be available to you. A lower monthly payment may cost you a little more in the long run, but you'll have a payment you can afford. And you can always pay more later to save money and pay off your loans more quickly.
  • Having financial difficulties, take action now for options to postpone or lower your monthly payments. These options usually cost more in the long run, but can help you avoid missing any payments, which can damage your credit.

Regardless of the path you take to repay your loan, we're here to help. Contact us if you can't make a payment, or have any questions about your loans.

What is the National Student Loan Data System?

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)is the U.S. Department of Education's central database for federal student aid. It tracks all outstanding federal student loans until they are paid in full and can help you determine how much you owe and who you owe it to.

When you log in using your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID, you'll see a listing of each of your loans, the amount of each loan type, and the total amount you owe for all of your federal loans combined. You can also see your grants, even though you don't have to pay those back.

Repayment Plans

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

Making a Payment

Can I make payments on my loan while I'm in school, and how is my money applied?

Yes. If you can afford it, making payments while you're in school is a great way to reduce the amount you will owe in the long run. Find out more about how payments are applied and the ways to make a payment (online, using our mobile app, by phone, etc.).

How do I make a payment?

Great Lakes offers many free payment methods, including one-time electronic payments (Pay Online), automatic monthly electronic payments (Auto Pay), payments by phone, and check or money order payments by mail.

To make a payment or find out more about each payment method, log in to mygreatlakes.org, if you haven't already, and select the option that works best for you.

How are payments applied to my loans?

How your payments are applied to your student loans depends on a number of factors. In most cases, payments are applied first to any accrued interest and fees, then to your principal balance. Check out How Payments Are Applied for different scenarios that may apply to your situation.

Why does most, or all, of my student loan payment go to interest?

Payments must be applied first to interest and fees, then to loan unpaid balance. This means that only the amount that exceeds interest and fees owed is applied to the unpaid balance. There are common situations in which all, or most, of your payments will be applied to interest and fees. For example, when you're on a Graduated repayment plan, if you've missed or skipped a few payments and then make a payment, if you're on an income-driven repayment plan, or if you don't make a payment within 30 days of entering repayment. Find out more about how payments are applied.

How do I view or change my monthly payment amount?

To view your monthly payment amount, log in to mygreatlakes.org, if you haven't already, and choose Account Summary from the My Accounts menu. If you are required to make a payment, the amount displays.

To change your monthly payment amount, log in to mygreatlakes.org, if you haven't already, and choose Repayment Plans from the My Repayment Plan menu. Here, you'll find an overview of your repayment options and an estimate of what your monthly payment amount could be under each repayment plan. Once you've decided which plan is right for you, we'll guide you through the steps to change your plan.

How do I change the date that my payment is due?

As long as your account is not past due, log in to mygreatlakes.org, if you haven't already, to select a new payment due date for your eligible Great Lakes loans. If your account is past due, contact us for more information.

How can I find my payoff amount?

When you're ready to pay off your Great Lakes-serviced student loans, finding the correct payoff amount is easy. Log in to mygreatlakes.org, if you haven't already, to view your Account Summary, and then view the details for the loan you want to pay off. Choose get payoff amount and enter your desired payoff date to display your payoff amount.

How can I give someone else access to my student loan data?

If you would like to authorize Great Lakes to discuss your student loans with an individual or entity not related to your loans, please log in to mygreatlakes.org, if you haven't already, and submit the Information Release Consent form available on the forms page.

What's a payment schedule? Where can I find it?

Auto Pay

What is Auto Pay and why should I sign up?

Can I enroll in Auto Pay if I don't have payments due?

I'd like to enroll in Auto Pay for loans I cosigned or endorsed with the borrower. What are my options?

Once I've submitted my request, how long does it take for Auto Pay to start?

Will I still get monthly billing statements?

When will Auto Pay withdraw money for my monthly payment?

Can I change the day that Auto Pay withdraws money from my account?

Can I set up Auto Pay to withdraw more than my regular monthly payment?

Can I pay an additional amount on my student loans while I'm enrolled in Auto Pay?

Can Auto Pay withdraw automatic payments more than once a month? Can I split my payments?

If I pay using another payment method, will you still withdraw my monthly Auto Pay payment?

What happens to my Auto Pay withdrawal amount when or if my payment amount changes?

If I have new loans that enter repayment, will payments be automatically withdrawn through Auto Pay?

What if there isn't enough money in my checking or savings account on my due date or withdrawal date?

What if I change my checking or savings account?

Will Auto Pay work with bank accounts outside the U.S.?

What if my loans are past due?

What happens to my Auto Pay withdrawal amount if I get a deferment or forbearance?

How do I cancel Auto Pay?

Trouble Making Payments?

What do I do if I can't afford to make my payments?

Don't wait to change to a more affordable option! Learn how you may be able to:

Changing your plan to a new one can give you the relief you need. If you think you'll have trouble making your payments or are already past due, don't hesitate to contact us and we can help you get started.

What if I'm unemployed or underemployed and can't make my payments?

Act now to change your repayment plan! If you're unemployed, aren't earning enough, or simply not working as many hours as you need to, your federal student loans provide options to postpone or lower your student loan payments. With a few clicks of the mouse you can find out if you're eligible for a new repayment plan, select the best option for you, apply online, and start feeling the relief of a lighter student loan payment.

Unemployed or working less than 30 hours a week, and actively seeking full-time employment?

Postpone your payments with an unemployment deferment. It only takes a few minutes to answer some questions and submit the request for unemployment deferment. We'll take it from there. (Certain criteria apply.)

Working 30+ hours a week, but aren't making enough money and want a lower monthly payment?

Answer a few questions to determine which repayment plan may work best for you and your loans. One based on your income (as well as other factors) could reduce your monthly payment down to $0.

How do I sign up for a repayment plan based on my income?

Repayment plans based on your income depend on things like your annual income, family size, and the types of loans you have. It's easy to get additional information and instructions on how to apply for an income-based repayment plan.

How do I know which repayment plans I'm eligible for?

Everyone's situation is different. But it's easy to review the available options and find out if you're eligible. Get the highlights on your repayment options. From there, you can get additional information on:

  • Postponing payments with a deferment or forbearance.
  • Reviewing different repayment options to lower your payments, including those based on your income.
  • Log in to mygreatlakes.org for more information.

How do I switch to a different repayment option?

Great Lakes allows you to change your repayment plan once a year (or more if your life circumstances drastically change, like becoming unemployed, returning to school, or becoming permanently disabled). Some plans may or may not be available to you, depending on things like your loans types, outstanding loan balance, and remaining payment term.

Review repayment plans, instructions on finding out if you're eligible for a specific plan, and ways to apply.

If you already know which option you want to change to, you can get started:

Some plans may not be available to you, depending on things like your loan types, and remaining payments.

I'm back in school, can I postpone (defer) my payments?

Yes, if you are enrolled at least half time you're most likely eligible for an in-school deferment. It's easy to log in, find out if you're eligible and request a deferment.

How do I request a deferment to postpone (defer) my payments?

A deferment allows eligible borrowers to postpone student loan payments under a variety of situations (e.g., economic hardship, attending school more than half-time, serving in the Peace Corps, etc.). Keep in mind that interest still accrues, so you may end up paying more over the life of your loan. It's easy to log in and request a deferment.

How do I request forbearance to postpone my payments?

Forbearance allows eligible borrowers to postpone student loan payments. Keep in mind that interest still accrues, so you may end up paying more over the life of your loan. It's easy to log in and request forbearance.

Can I postpone my payments if I'm actively serving in the Military, Peace Corps, or AmeriCorps?

Yes, you may be eligible to postpone your federal student loan payments while actively serving in the Military, Peace Corps, or AmeriCorps.

U.S. Military

Payments may be postponed through a Military Deferment. It's easy to log in and find more information about Military Deferment.

Peace Corps

Payments may be postponed through a Peace Corps Volunteer Deferment or an Economic Hardship Deferment. It's easy to log in and find more information about Peace Corp Volunteer and Economic Hardship Deferments.

AmeriCorps

Payments may be postponed through forbearance. It's easy to log in and find more information about forbearance.

Should I consolidate my federal student loans?

In general, loan consolidation combines multiple loans with many interest rates and payments into a single loan.

The Power of ONE

A Direct Consolidation loan offers you:

  • One loan.
  • One fixed interest rate.
  • One monthly payment.
  • One loan servicer—of your choice!
  • One contact for managing your student debt—online and on the phone.

The Power of CHOICE

Consolidation gives you the opportunity to choose one of the U.S. Department of Education's consolidation servicers to complete and service your Direct Consolidation loan.

Keep in mind it's important to understand if consolidation is the right solution for you.

Loan Forgiveness and Discharge or School Closure

How can I determine if my loans can be forgiven?

In certain situations, you may apply to have all or part of your student loans forgiven. For example, if you are a teacher in a low-income community, work full-time in a public service job, or are totally and permanently disabled, you may be eligible.

Get more details and application instructions on loan forgiveness.

What happens to my loans if my school closes?

If your school closes while you're enrolled or soon after you withdraw, you may be eligible for a discharge of your federal student loan. There are certain steps that you need to take in order to have your loans discharged. Learn more about school closure or apply.

Past Due Payments

What do I do if I'm past due on my payments?

Don't wait to change to a more affordable option! Your federal student loans are unique and have a number of options to assist you if you're past due. But you have to take action. Learn how you may be able to:

Changing to a new plan can give you the relief you need. If you think you'll have trouble making your payments or are already past due, don't hesitate to contact us and we can help you get started.

Will past due payments negatively affect my credit rating?

Yes, past due payments (also known as delinquency) can negatively affect your credit rating. A past due payment can be reported to a credit bureau at any time. Don't wait to take action to fix past due payments! Your federal student loans are unique and have a number of options to assist you if you're past due. But you have to take action. Learn how you may be able to:

Changing to a new plan can give you the relief you need. If you think you'll have trouble making your payments or are already past due, don't hesitate to contact us and we can help you get started.

After my deferment or forbearance is over, will I have a past due amount?

No, you will not have a past due amount at the time your deferment or forbearance ends. A deferment or forbearance acts like a "reset" button for your past due amounts and brings your loan current. However, you'll still have the principal balance you had prior to entering the deferment or forbearance, plus any additional interest that accrued. And, it's important for you to have made arrangements for a new, affordable repayment plan for moving forward so you don't become past due.

It's easy to request a deferment or forbearance and reset your loan.

Keep in mind that a deferment or forbearance does not remove any reports to credit bureaus related to past due amounts.

What if I can pay something, but not the full amount that's past due?

Paying anything is a great start and will reduce future interest accruals. But your account will remain past due, so you need to pursue other possible options to help your past due loan payments become current.

Don't wait to fix past due payments! Your federal student loans have a number of options to assist you if you're past due. But you have to take action. Learn how you may be able to:

Will I have late fees added to my past due loans?

It depends on your lender. Your lender has the right to add late fees to your account if your payments are past due 15 days or more.

Can I change my due date if my payment is past due?

If your account is past due, you need to first log in to our website and make a payment, or find out more information on requesting a deferment or forbearance to bring your account current.

Once your account is current, you may select a new payment due date for your eligible Great Lakes loans.

Contact us for more information.

Servicemember Benefits

I'm on active duty, what do I need to do?

If you're on active duty, there are a few things you can do to make managing your account easier. Read Servicemember Support—We're Here for You for more information, or contact us—we're happy to help answer your questions.

How do I know which loans my military payments would apply to?

To determine how your military payments will be applied to your federal student loans, check with your unit or Commanding Officer. If you have questions about your student loans or payments we may have received, please contact us.

How can I make sure my paperwork is processed while I'm on active duty?

One way is to monitor the status of your account online. Once you're logged in, you can view your account summary, which provides the status of your account and important information about your loans.

Another way is to authorize someone to act as your Power of Attorney. This person will be able to sign documents and act on your behalf. Contact us for more information.

What do I need to do to receive a military deferment?

If you would like to receive a military deferment during the first 12 months you are eligible, you are only required to submit a verbal request.

After the 12 months, you are required to submit documentation to enter the program. When you're on active duty, it can be difficult to provide documentation. Having someone act as your Power of Attorney will allow them to complete necessary documentation to make the process smoother and continue your deferment without interruption.

Where do I find more information about the military repayment program?

When you enlisted in the service, you may have enrolled in a repayment program. You can find more information about your program and other military repayment programs from your Commanding Officer or recruiter.

1098-E Student Loan Interest Statements

Where can I find the student loan interest information I need to file my taxes?

You can access your student loan interest statements by logging into your account on mygreatlakes.org. Once you're logged in, just select Tax Filing Statements from the My Accounts menu. Your prior year's statement is available mid-January each year. Please note that only statements from 2010 onward are available online. Contact us for statements prior to 2010.

What is a 1098-E?

The 1098-E Student Loan Interest Statement is an IRS tax form that lists the amount of interest paid on your student loans during the previous year. You may be able to deduct some or all of this amount from the income you report on your federal tax return, which may reduce your income tax. Check with a tax advisor to determine which interest is tax deductible.

You'll receive a 1098-E for each account listed in your Account Summary. By adding the totals together, you can determine the total amount of student loan interest you paid for the year. Note that if you have loans with another servicer, you'll receive 1098-E information from them, too.

Read Your 1098-E and Your Student Loan Tax Information for more information.

What interest payments were included on my 2017 1098-E?

Interest payments made on your student loan accounts in 2017 may be deductible on your 2017 tax return. The interest on payments received by 5:00 p.m. Central on December 29, 2017, is included on your 2017 1098-E.

Interest payments may include amounts that were applied towards principal. Capitalized interest and origination fees (part of your principal balance) are sometimes tax deductible. If you have questions about how the amount on your 1098-E statement was calculated, please contact a tax advisor.

Where can I find the federal tax ID number?

When you file your taxes, you may need to include your servicer's federal tax ID number. You can find the number on your 1098-E, below your servicer's address.

1099-C Cancellation of Debt Statements

What is a 1099-C?

The 1099-C Cancellation of Debt is an IRS tax form that lists the amount of debt that was cancelled on your student loans. The IRS treats debt cancellation as income, and Great Lakes is required to report student loan debt cancellation to the IRS. If applicable, you'll receive a 1099-C from Great Lakes with the amount of debt cancelled on your Great Lakes-serviced loans. You'll report the amount listed on your 1099-C statement on your federal tax return.

If you have student loan debt with another servicer that was cancelled, they may send you additional 1099-C statements.

How do I know if I'll receive the 1099-C Cancellation of Debt tax statement?

If eligible, you'll receive a letter notifying you of the amount of debt that was cancelled on your Great Lakes-serviced student loans and a paper 1099-C statement by the end of January 2018. If you received loan forgiveness by applying for certain forgiveness programs, disabilities, or Borrower Defense to Repayment, you may receive form 1099-C.

Where can I find the student loan debt cancellation information I need to file my taxes?

You can access your student loan debt cancellation statements by logging into mygreatlakes.org. Once you're logged in, select Tax Filing Statements from the My Accounts menu to access your 1099-C.

Account Statements and Information

About mygreatlakes.org

How is my data secured?

Great Lakes has a proven record of safeguarding your information.

  • We comply with National Institute of Standards and Technology information security standards, among the most stringent in the industry.
  • On a continual basis, we undergo internal and external security audits to ensure these high standards are met.
  • Our employees receive extensive security training on a regular basis.

In addition, we continue to enhance our website to stay on top of new technologies and continually upgrade all of the components of our information systems with the latest hardware and software to ensure it meets the latest security standards. Our goal is to protect your data and ensure it is never compromised. It's a job we take very seriously, every hour of every day.

What browsers do you support?

Our websites work best with browsers that support HTML5, CSS, and Javascript.

We recognize that visitors may have various operating systems and Internet browsers. We like visitors to have the best possible experience using this website. However, we understand that it is impossible to make the site work identically with all browsers and settings. We have tested the website with the most common modern browsers. We assure you that every possible attempt will be made to achieve the best possible cross-browser compatibility for this site.

How does Great Lakes handle website accessibility?

Great Lakes is committed to making its electronic and information technologies accessible to individuals with disabilities by meeting or exceeding the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d), as amended in 1998. Section 508 is a federal law that requires agencies to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to electronic information and data comparable to those who do not have disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. The Section 508 standards are the technical requirements and criteria that are used to measure conformance within this law. More information on Section 508 and the technical standards can be found at section508.gov.

If you require assistance or wish to report an issue related to the accessibility of any content on this website, please email accessibility@mygreatlakes.org. If applicable, please include the web address or URL and the specific problems you have encountered.