Is Great Lakes Legit?

Jen Williamson Updated: January 13, 2020

If you got something in the mail from a company called Great Lakes and you don’t recognize the name, you may be wondering if it’s legit. And that’s a reasonable thing to wonder. Chances are, if you have student loans, you get a lot of shady offers in the mail. 

But don't throw out that Great Lakes envelope right away. Why? Great Lakes is, indeed, a legit company. In fact, they might even be your student loan servicer

Great Lakes Insta

What is Great Lakes—and what is a loan servicer?

Great Lakes is a loan servicer and one of the largest guarantors and providers of student loans in the US, with over 10 million borrowers. The company was acquired by NelNet in 2018, but it still operates under the Great Lakes name.

Loan servicers act as intermediaries between borrowers and lenders; the lender wrote the check for your loan, the servicer administers your account. Things they do include: 

When your federal loan was issued, you were assigned a loan servicer to handle your loan. It’s not unusual for people to be unsure who their loan servicer is — even if they have thousands of dollars in student loans.

How do I find out if Great Lakes is my loan servicer?

If you’re not sure who your loan servicer is, try the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). You can get information about all your federal loans through this site. You can also find out who your loan servicer by visiting My Federal Student Aid and logging in.

You’ll need some information to track down your loans on these sites, including identification info and your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID number.

See also: Student Loan Servicers: Who They Are and Where to Find Them 

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How do I contact Great Lakes?

You can get in touch with Great Lakes in a number of ways:

  • By phone at 800-236-4300.
  • By email, using this contact form (you'll have to scroll).
  • By fax (who uses a fax these days? But you do you ...) at 800-375-5288.
  • Or by mail, at this address: Great Lakes, PO Box 7860, Madison, WI 53707-7860.

The company website states that the fastest way to get a response is to call them.

How to avoid student loan scams 

Now, about those other shady mailings you get on the regular.

Some companies will do anything to get your money—including offering to do things for you that you could do on your own (such as signing up for income-driven repayment) or making outlandish promises to get rid of your student loan debt if you’ll pay them a fee.

If you’re not sure whether a mailing you’ve received is a scam, here are some questions to ask.

  • Do they want your money? Are they asking for an application fee to consolidate your loans, or a monthly payment to get your loans forgiven? Stop right there.
  • Are they offering to do things for you that you can do yourself? Like refinancing or consolidating your loan, or applying for Income-Based Repayment? Jog on.
  • Are they making unrealistic promises? For instance, are they telling you they can get your loans forgiven? The federal government has some student loan forgiveness programs, but they all have very stringent qualification requirements and can take decades to kick in. The only way to find out if you qualify for one of these programs is to contact your loan servicer directly. 
  • Do they want your personal info? Like your account number, FSA number, or even power of attorney? Your legit loan servicer already has all the info they need—don’t give the fraudsters your info.

If Great Lakes is your loan servicer, you can find out quickly by searching My Federal Student Aid or the NSLDS database, or giving them a call. Knowing your loan servicer will help you know which pieces of mail to open—and which ones to trash.

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