Although they originally borrowed their tuition money from Uncle Sam, nearly 1 in 3 Americans with federal student loans make their monthly payments to a company called American Education Services. AES is the largest of the nine student loan servicers that currently handle day-to-day management of student loans for the U.S. Department of Education.
If your loans are being managed by AES, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the company and what they can do for you. Student loan servicers play a crucial role in tracking your payments, explaining your options if you’re having financial difficulties, and answering any questions you may have. Here’s what you need to know about AES.
AES was founded by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) in 1963 to manage loans granted through the now-defunct Family Education Loan Program. Today, together with its partner agency FedLoan, it handles about 31% of the U.S. Department of Education’s direct loans, serving 8.4 million borrowers with debt totaling $292.7 billion. It also manages student loans for private companies including SunTrust, JP Morgan Chase, and PNC Bank.
Like all loan servicers, AES handles a number of student loan-related tasks including:
AES has several online tools for borrowers to manage their loans. After making an account on the AES website, you can view your balance and loan terms, switch payment plans, and print tax documents. There are several ways to make payments through the online portal. You can make a one-time payment, schedule up to 8 payments ahead of time, or set up direct debit. (Enrolling in direct debit can get you a .25% interest rate discount.) If you have more than one student loan, you can choose where any extra payments are applied.
AES trailed many of its competitors in offering mobile service, but it recently released applications for iOS and Android. Their mobile apps allow users to view their balances, make payments, and update contact information. Reviews have been mixed, with many users complaining of bugs and crashes, but AES has aimed to fix some of those problems through recent updates.
In addition to its main website, AES offers limited educational and planning resources on two companion sites. EducationPlanner.org is geared toward parents and high school students. Another site, called “You Can Deal With It,” has budgeting and money management tips for college students and recent grads.
Federal student loan repayment plans are dictated by the U.S. Department of Education, so all servicing companies offer similar options. Borrowers who have been assigned to work with AES are limited to the following repayment plans:
AES has a repayment estimator tool and a chart that briefly describes each plan, but a recurring consumer complaint is that the company doesn’t do enough to help borrowers understand the options, many of which sound very similar.
If AES is your servicer and you’re having trouble making payments, the first step is to contact their customer service department. You might qualify for forbearance, deferment, or reduced payments if you’re unemployed, underemployed, or experiencing financial hardship. Extending the term of your loan could lower your monthly payments. There are several remedies that might provide relief in the short term, but none of them will lower the interest rate or amount you owe.
Office Hours: M - F: 7:30 AM - 9 PM (EST)
Mailing address for general correspondence:
American Edication Services
P.O. Box 2461
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2461