Consumer Complaints and Reviews
Great Lakes has not been helpful at all when it comes to my attempts to repay the massive student loan debt that my parents took out in my name. I am on IBR, and to calculate my payments GL does not consider any other factors besides income. This means, to them, that your student loan payments must apparently take priority over your rent, food, transportation, and healthcare. If, due to any of those reasons, you cannot afford the payments they've calculated based solely on your income, then there is no other option except forbearance. Once you reach the limit on your forbearance, the only other option is defaulting. We are screwed.
I have dealt with Great Lakes for a few years now. I pay my bill each month when my statement comes in the mail. At least once a year, my monthly bill won't come. The next month I will get a past due notice from them. Each time I call they have no explanation of why I did not receive a bill in the mail. The next month I get a bill again like usual. However this hurts my credit score. This also disqualifies me from any gov repayment programs! To qualify for gov repayment programs you have to make consecutive payments. Does anyone else have this problem?
Seriously, it is not hard to take money and apply it to a specific loan. However, Great Lakes has a very difficult time with it. I started paying off my loans while I was still in school, Dec 2016, through my grace period, 02 2017 to the present 04 2017, and in that time I had to call 20 times just from Dec. to Jan. and my grace period does not end until July. For some reason they cannot read emails, they have to be sent from the borrower to the finance people, to disperse the money to the desired loan. So not only have I had to call them a ridiculous amount of times but I have had to email them. A new problem is when they decided to update the system and not email the borrowers so that we don't get upset when our ENTIRE ACCOUNT INFO CHANGES!! I magically owed them more money and had more loans (the ones I already paid off) than the day before.
Seriously, I have had more problems with this company than I had with any other business. Additionally, the staff seems to be trained differently because they do not seem to agree on the information they give you. I would call and get different answers of why something happened to my account and honestly it is a true headache and very time consuming. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent dealing with this. Most of the personnel is nice and tries to help, but it does not seem as though they are trained properly to apply money to the loans. They have no trouble taking the money but there are extreme problems on reading emails and representatives notes on how to disperse the money. Plus, there is no way for them to pay me back from their mistakes like other business. If I ever take out another student loan, I will make sure it won't be from this company.
Great Lakes irresponsibly and fraudulently allowed a loan to be placed in my name for almost 30,000. I've never heard of them or dealt with them, never signed anything never spoke to them over phone or emailed or mail no communication in any way about this loan. Some company named Forgiveness Processing illegally made a FAFSA id in my name and consolidated loans in amount of 30,000. I had one loan of 4 thousand bucks with Sallie Mae ten years ago paid in full. Last year I received an email saying a loan was in process and I called the department of education and had two fraud cases made two different case numbers. Reported the fraud, and called and emailed this Great Lakes and made them aware it's fraud, not me. I also put the whole thing on medical discharge for 90 days, medical discharge papers say loan is froze nobody can do anything for 90 days. This was an extra precaution is all.
Now a year later these bastards are sending me a loan renewal email, the whole system is a government scam. It's the crooked Rothschilds who own these banks and our country is in debt to them, college is a scam to charge us all with the country's debt. Don't go to college. It does nothing for you but make you a slave to debt. You're never going to pay it off. They find a way to charge you the rest of your life. And there's nothing you can. They're all thieves.
I have been dealing with these people for years now. They will lie and say you only owe a certain small amount in forbearance if you sign up for it and then you will have 10 times the amount of money that they said you would owe. It is ridiculous. They are a complete scam. If you try to get angry on the phone with them then they will get angry back. The customer is not always right in their eyes. I send them an income driven repayment plan in the mail 3 times and they still didn't recognize that it was there. This is so they could send you a bill that you couldn't pay each month. They won't send you an e-mail recognizing this until after it is done. The entire company is corrupt. Please do not use them for student loans. I have so much more I could write that shows how corrupt it is but I might wait till later.
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Last May as I do every single year I put in the paperwork for my ex husband's student loans to be in forbearance and amazingly this year these "people" lost the paperwork. So they defaulted him and in turn stole my tax refund. He didn't work last year and they will not do a default reversal because they are greedy and they know they are wrong. I even sent in proof that we had filed because not only did I do it on paper but I also sent it in an email which I forwarded to Jared in the escalation department. Amazingly I have heard nothing back. If your loan is with them get it out NOW.
I am paying off my daughter's loans. She has been attending graduate school for TWO years part time. I received an email saying her deferments have been approved. We never applied for a deferment and never informed them that she was attending graduate school part time, or the name of the school. The reason I did not apply for a deferment was a result of previous bad experiences on my own student loan that ended up with significant interest being racked up and added to the loan. I responded stating that she never informed Great Lakes she was attending school part time, she never identified the school and certainly did not apply for a deferment. In fact she is graduating in two months.
I found the response sent back to her to be beyond belief. Great Lakes stated that they "learned" of her enrollment and it was their practice to place students on automatic deferrals. They also stated the complaint about not wanting to pay interest was met with the response that not much interest would accrue. Finally I was told that their practice is to automatically Place students on deferrals. She now has to file a request to "opt out of this service". I also now have to wait for them to return the form to do so.
The practice of receiving information from an outside source where and when she was attending school is of great concern. I find the practice of sending an email saying that "your deferment has been approved" when no application was made quite deceiving. She was in graduate school two years and this is just occurring. This makes me think that this a relatively new practice. Despite their claim that the there is not that much interest, the company's spending the money to track borrowers and make set up deferments would suggest there is significant profit made from this practice.
In my opinion, as long as servicing federal student loans is a for profit business with little oversite by the government, these types of abuses will continue. Now there is talk of getting rid of any consumer watchdogs for this business. Given the number of complaints on the internet by people who are ACTUALLY MAKING ALL PAYMENTS on these loans, I would strongly encourage borrowers to carefully monitor their loans and all website correspondence so they can "opt out" of unrequested changes in their payment status before they accrue additional interest. AS for Great Lakes, I am deeply dismayed. After surviving the Sallie Mae fiasco I considered Great Lakes one of the better service providers. All I can say at this point is BORROWER BEWARE!
I have had a college loan from Great lakes for about 4 or 5 years and when I refinanced my mortgage and paid the loan off it created a credit balance. The check for the payoff was from the mortgage company. Great Lakes refused to remit the credit balance to me and held my money for 30 days. They want their money on time or they will harass you, but they will hold your money as long as they legally can! We had the payment automatically deducted from our bank account for all those years and were never late for a payment. I paid off 11 accounts, college loans/credit cards/personal loans, all in the same manner and all the other companies sent me a refund check as soon as they received their money.
I would never again use Great Lakes as a servicing agent for college loans or any loans. When I called customer service and asked for an estimate refund date they kept saying, "It is pending call back next week." I did this for 3 weeks before I could talk to a supervisor that told me that they would hold my money for 30 days because this is the length of time a bank could wait to cancel their check. No customer service is better than the joker I spoke to. They simply do not care about their customers!!
When I was attempting to pay off a loan, their website makes it impossible to do so without calling the company. I called the company in December and was told if I paid the 'current due balance' amount on that date it would prorate it to be paid that day and accrue no additional interest. This was incorrect. I have a small balance due that I attempted to pay off today. This company makes paying back your loans near impossible. I was told I had to make 3 monthly payments ($300) to pay off a balance that was less than $100. Their system couldn't allocate it any other way. Funny how literally every other loan site is able to give you this ability online but they can't even do it over the phone. They just repeat themselves over and over and offer no help. Go to FedLoan - they are SO nice and very helpful and it's SO easy to use their site!! And their employees actually know what they're talking about - which is a lot more than I can say for this company.
As a holder of subsidized and unsubsidized loans at 2.75% and 6.25% respectively let me assure you that this company does not allocate payments the way they state on their website. They claim that after your monthly payment is met any extra payment is applied first to accrued interest then to the loan with the highest interest rate. I make extra payments and track them religiously. After making one such extra payment last November I logged into their website to track the payment dispersal. Lo and behold that extra payment was dispersed across my loans and not exclusively to my higher interest loan. After I called to correct this matter I was told “Trust us. The payment was applied correctly.” and that the HTML of their website was displaying incorrect information. “Trust us.” they say. I don't think so. I will be making one large payment to pay off my higher interest portion so all that will remain will be my subsidized loans at 2.75%.
I don't have enough info on their website and deferring a loan for a year caused 10,000 more in debt. Paying the loan down doesn't seem to lower payments. Not being able to lower interest is corrupt in my opinion.
I have been paying monthly for 13 years and my balance is almost the same as the original balance. Almost nothing has gone toward the principal. I have spoken with many people at Great Lakes, none of whom are able to explain why or offer any help. I finally said to a supervisor, 'So, you're not able to help me at all?' And he replied, 'No, I'm not'.
I received an automated call today about my forbearance paperwork being late - I NEVER got paperwork or email. I called, wasting money I don't have, to get it situated. Now that they evidently changed the time frame on the repayment. I am still on unemployment, which I'm close to losing because it's nearly run out. I have been dealing with these people for years now and I never will be able to pay it, especially when the Repugnantcans decimate Social Security.
This company is a complete and total ripoff. I am not sure how they get away with doing business the way they do but you have a better chance of paying off a $30,000.00 credit card bill at 19% interest at a lesser amount than you do a student loan at 6% with these people. We borrowed $30,000 and have paid back $23,000 so you tell me how we still can owe $22,000.00. When you call you can NEVER get a straight, UNDERSTANDABLE answer from anyone and the answers vary from person to person. Something is underhanded here. Stay away!!!
I have had issues with great lakes for years. If anyone has had experience successfully correcting issues with them or at least tried and failed I would love to hear your story. Please contact me. All the information given is misleading and it is as if the people I speak to are deliberately trying to mislead me about the reasons I have accrued capitalized interest. I believe the status changes, that I did not approve, has led to miscalculation and increase in interest (the capitalized interest). I would like them to correct the status changes that resulted in the cap. interest so it can reflect what I really owe. I have called them and tried to correct these issues for years yet they still continue to change statuses based on whatever their internal protocol is. I finally have the time to look into my payments, account status changes, etc and would like to fully commit to correcting these issues.
It is important for people to know that the paid ahead status that they offer can be taken away without notification. In my case, I paid ahead by three years (I made a single large payment) then I took another class which put me in non-payment status. After I finished my final course and went back into payment status I was no longer considered paid ahead, so that three year buffer I gave myself was just gone. Yes, the money went to the principal so the loan was reduced, but I no longer have the luxury of skipping a payment if I need to even though I should be three years ahead of schedule.
I've read the reviews on here by all of you so I am writing this as to what you should do when dealing with Great Lakes. I went to grad school 10 years after undergrad and all my undergrad loans were handled awesome. It took 8 years to pay off 90k but I always received paper statements and had great customer service experiences. When my grad loans got assigned to Great Lakes I had an oh crap moment cause I've heard they are the worst. So my advice to you all if you have internet is to be logging in and looking at your information DAILY.
I get it, they have a track record of sucking. After I graduated and my loans came out of deferment I continue to be on their website and track my daily interest and payments on an excel sheet. It's just become part of my morning routine now. Because I track daily, I know about how much my account is accruing (or should be) and if the number isn't in line I know they are screwing with something. In my last year with this company on separate occasions my account has gone to zero randomly, they have added 100k to my balance for a day, and wiped the principal paid off all of my payments. I had some freak out moments but the issues were resolved in a few days. I knock on wood I don't have any issues in the future trying to pay these off way early but as of right now I just recommend you all get used to getting nothing from them... Do the work, log in online daily because you have to police the account yourself.
Great Lakes has an entirely worthless website which will not allow users to log in. It repeatedly generates a "Problem Displaying this Page" error. This error persists across all browsers and devices, using both desktop and mobile applications. Such a blatant unresolved error is incredibly unprofessional and shows a lack of care and consideration for their clients. They obtain customers without their consent by purchasing loans and have no qualms about charging exorbitant interest rates which are well above what is reasonable considering the market, yet they fail to even provide a functioning and accessible website. I am entirely dissatisfied with the institution.
Easily one of the worst companies I have ever dealt with in my life. Horrible and incompetent customer service. I graduated college in 2014 and started paying on my loans around 06/2015. Payments started out at around $100 monthly which is not that bad. Fast forward one year and it's now around 06/2016 and I'm told that it's time to renew my income driven repayment thing. So I submit all the necessary documents well in advance. Like around March or April of 2016. I never hear anything directly from them for weeks, so I call them. They say it's still processing. I don't think it should take that long. So they say give it another couple weeks and "give us a call back for an update." I do that and they basically tell me the same thing.
Meanwhile the time is coming for me to make another monthly payment so I said "well I'm not making a payment until this is fixed." I can't afford for my payments to go up as high as the company wants them to. The website said that if I renewed my IDR it'll only make my payments go up to about 122-125 a month. If I don't do anything at all, then the website said my payments will go up to 188 a month. That may not be much difference to some people but when you have a crappy paying job that's a huge difference. Their solution was to put a 60 day hold on my payments while they got their crap together for my IDR plan thing. So I said "Fine. Whatever."
I call back in 60 days (which is the end of August 2016) to see the status of my IDR deal. The girl I spoke to said that it was rejected. I never got so much as a call or an email or anything about it. I had no idea it was rejected. I asked the girl if she could tell me why it was rejected and she told me they claimed they didn't get my spouse's financial info. Yet she could look it up in her computer and tell that I sent it in. I said that makes no sense. She said "I will resubmit it, call back in a week or 2 to check on it." I asked the customer service rep why in the world it was taking months to complete this process and she literally laughed and told me she didn't know.
A couple weeks pass and I get an email that says it's finally accepted. LITERALLY 5-6 MONTHS AFTER I STARTED THE PROCESS. So frustrating. My payments ended up going up 50 dollars. I was told that it would only go up 20 bucks. I truly regret taking out loans from this company. Their customer service is IGNORANT AND UNEDUCATED.
I took out a student loan back in 2009 after I lost my job and it looked as if unemployment would not continue, hoping I could get a job in the field I was studying at the beginning level. I could not. Fortunately I was rehired by the company that let me go but took a pay cut. I was struggling to catch up on bills, improve my credit and try to get my life back on track. Lost my job again in 2014 so retired at 62. I have never been able to get back to where I was at when I first lost my job and also my home.
I currently have to work part time 5 days a week to meet my expenses. I have filled out their income based application and the payments come back more than I can afford. They will not listen to this. They only look at your income and do not consider your expenses. I have tried to explain this with no luck. Every time I contact them they send me the income based site which starts the circle all over again. I told them what I could afford and they ignore it.
I finally got a 60 day forbearance, whoopee. I only took the first year which were all core classes except one. The education has not benefited me in any way as employers don't even look at the one year. I have several expenses and I will lose approximately $1400.00 a month income in July 2017. I can only afford what I can afford unless I can begin manufacturing money. They don't listen they don't care. They rush you into the loan then once they got you there is no way out. On top of it all interest keeps accruing. There is no way out so beware!
I have recently just received my information on paying back my student loans. I have never had any student loans and was not sure of the process. I was assigned to Great Lakes Higher Education Corp to help me establish a way for repayment that was good for me and what I could afford. I have not received any phone calls only communication Via Email, which is not so bad if you are working and cannot talk.
I would have to say my experience with this company has been little to no help. When I ask questions Via email I do not receive a response until three days has passed and I do not get direct answers. When I ask specific questions about my student loans they always refer me back to my school student loan office which will not discuss it with me and tells me to talk with Great Lakes, so basically I get tossed around like no one cares. I would definitely suggest keeping them if you do have them but make sure you are specific with your questions and do not expect a response in a timely manner.
In 2013 the US Army loan repayment incentive (part of my military contract when I joined) paid off the loan that I have with Great Lakes. Notice I said "have". Although I have provided them with documentation that very, very clearly illustrates that this loan was paid in 2013. They refuse to acknowledge the final payment, and continue to charge me interest on a loan that was paid off two years ago. Like a previous reviewer on this site, my loan was previously held by Direct Loans (also known as ACS), before it was transferred to Great Lakes. No issues were encountered when it was in the hands of Direct Loans (ACS).
I've called many times and had conversations that always turn out the same. (1) I explain the situation and remind them that I have provided them with the documentation they need to illustrate the payment. (2) They tell me that they need time to "investigate" the matter further. (3) I never hear back from them, and when I call back to find out the status of their "investigation", they have no idea what I'm talking about, and I have to resend my documentation that shows the payments having been made. (4) They tell me they need time to "investigate" the matter further. (5) ...Rinse and repeat. They are holding my account open for approximately $10k on a loan that was paid off by the US Army in 2013.
You could never get anyone to talk about your loan that could help you with anything. They just keep saying how much you own and can you make a payment today. Called several days in a row and they transfer you around. One time the customer service agent said, "I can transfer you around here all day. It's going to be the same thing, can you make a payment". Not very customer oriented and dont want to work with you.
I tried to return Great Lakes' urgent phone call. THEY would NOT tell me why they were calling me. As a great aunt, I am trying to pay off some loans for unemployed college graduates. It is hard to respond to a phone call that is urgent if one does not know why they are calling. And, their attitude was rude. Also, Great Lakes will not acknowledge receipt of my money and because I can't review my nephew's account, they could be spending my money at Starbucks. Is this whole world crazy, perverse or just plain stupid? I pick the latter because if they can call me on my cell phone, they sure as hell must know who I am.
I am completely dissatisfied with Great Lakes. I have both a subsidized and unsubsidized loan at a higher interest rate. Sure they recommend you pay more than the minimum payment, which I do faithfully every month (about 25% higher), but instead of paying down the principal, they apply the monies to the next regular installment so I'm "paid ahead", instead of "paid down". I set the account up for monthly auto pay for a lower % rate, but when I make an extra payment, they cancel auto pay and the discounted rate. Since I get paid every two weeks, I set up recurring payments through my bank every four weeks so twice a year they receive an extra payment during the month. Those payments should be applied to principal only but they never are. And yes, the subsidized loan is always the first to get credited, even though their contract says otherwise. By the time I'm done paying this loan, I'll have likely paid 4x what I borrowed.
The company does not pay off the loans with the highest interest rates as their policy says and is ripping off students of millions of dollars! It is fraudulent. I insisted that payments be applied to the loans with the highest interest and they replied: "The additional amount will then be applied first to any remaining unpaid accrued interest, then to the principal balance of the loan with the highest interest rate. If more than one loan exists with this interest rate, the payment is applied towards the unsubsidized loan (if applicable)."
Looking at the balance this did not appear to be happening so I had to request the information multiple times in order to get a history of exactly which loans the payments were being applied to. What I found was that even though I had paid ahead and had $0 due, the payments were going to the principal of the Subsidized loans with 3.5% less interest!
Think about that! They are making 3.5% interest on all of the loans they deal with like mine! No wonder why they make it so hard to access the information on their website. I wonder how widespread this practice is and wish someone would write an expose. I just spoke with customer service. They admitted as such and said that in order to achieve what their policy stated they do automatically, I have to make a call every month and specify exactly what to pay. All the online payments will not go to the highest rate loan even though it says they will in their policy!
I have two student loan providers. Great Lakes and American Education Services. American Education Services is wonderful. Great lakes is horrible. I have autopay and in addition make weekly payments. I am on a Income drive plan, but still pay more than required. I set up weekly future payments for about 2 months in advance and then when I try to make additional payments it says that my account is not set up to make payments.
I have to go through this issue every couple of months. I've used the same bank account for payments for the past 2 years. The account I use for autopay is the same account I use to make the additional payments. For some reason the autopay payments go through fine, but not the additional payments. I've gone back and forth about this with them for months. I've contacted them about 6 times about the same issue. It's almost as if they are mad at me for trying to pay more than the minimum payment. Their customer service is awful.
They don't send monthly bills or have a payment coupon book. They want everything to be handled online or through email. I don't pay online, I mail checks. They have a payment statement online, but it is too time consuming to go find 2 every month and print them out. I have had to make up and print my own coupons so I can send the payment information along with check. I send two checks every month, one for Stafford Loan, one for a consolidated loan. I have the account numbers on the payment coupon. Yet they still don't apply the payments correctly. I have uploaded the application for an IBR to their site, and sent my 1040 and Schedule C also. Now they are saying they need me to type up more information and file it.
I am willing to make payments on my student loan, unlike a lot of other people. And yet this company gives me a hard time and doesn't apply my payments correctly. I have been making payments to them consistently every month, since I took out the loan, even when I was still taking classes. I am very frustrated with their unhelpfulness and their lack of ability to handle my payments correctly. I just received an email over the weekend, saying my payments weren't applied in Feb. Yet when I check my bank statement, both have been cashed. Half of the time I don't even know what they are talking about and why I am getting emails. It shouldn't be so difficult to send a company money!
This is a crooked, rotten corporation. They tell you to pay extra on your student loan, but if you don't pay the extra the same time as your monthly payment, all that extra money goes straight to your interest. So you actually never dent the principal.
My experience with Great Lakes has been completely positive. This is why I chose them to handle my consolidation. I have received constant email notifications while in school that provided me education on loan repayment options, when to apply for, how to access my account, and seek additional information as needed. Once I graduated with my Masters program, it was about a month before they were updated with my status. My other loans with ACS were due soon because they were older loans. I submitted the consolidation information and it took 2 business days to get the payoff info and total of 10 days to approve my consolidation for income based repayment. Thank you Great Lakes!
Barbara FriedbergPersonal Finance Contributing Editor
Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS is a former investment portfolio manager with decades of financial experience. Friedberg taught Finance and Investments at several universities. Her work has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, Investopedia, Yahoo!Finance and many more publications.
Great Lakes is a non-profit organization that helps students make college a reality. The company partners with the U.S. Department of Education and private lenders to facilitate successful student loan repayment.
- Services: Great Lakes works with more than 6,000 schools and 1,000 lenders to help students and their families navigate the student aid process. The firm services federal student loans and provides educational customer service.
- Student educational resources: The knowledge center helps students understand the wide variety of student loan options. Great Lakes’ robust website includes special guidance for military. Their repayment resources explain how to navigate paying back the student loans.
- Payment services: As a student loan servicer, Great Lakes offers payment plans, loan consolidation services, loan forgiveness programs and more.
- Best for Undergraduate and graduate students, seeking knowledge and information about the student loan repayment process.
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Great Lakes Higher Education Corp. Company Profile
- Company Name:
- Great Lakes
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