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.
For many borrowers with AES-serviced loans, refinancing to a lower interest rate can shave thousands of dollars off the total repayment amount. It’s a good idea to explore refinancing, especially if you took out your loans before 2014 and are paying more than 4% interest. With a lower interest rate, more of your payment goes to principal, and that means your balance goes down much faster.
If you have multiple student loans, chances are you’re dealing with more than one loan servicing company. Consolidating your debt into a single loan can simplify your finances and get you out of debt faster. Consolidating through the federal government won’t lower your interest rate, but consolidating with a private lender can result in huge savings.
Here at Comet, we’ve helped people save more than $200 million on their student loans. Most banks that offer student loan refinancing have stringent underwriting standards. They are looking for borrowers with reasonably good credit scores, a low debt-to-income ratio, and steady employment. But even if your credit isn’t perfect, there may be ways to qualify. The first step is to request a personalized quote. With most modern lenders, you can get a decision in less than 15 minutes with no impact to your credit.
Wondering if you could be getting a better deal on your student loans? The lenders listed below topped our 2018 rankings for best customer service, product offerings, transparency, and ease of applying.
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
Works with 275+ not-for-profit community lenders for higher approval chances
LendKey operates student loan programs for over 275 not-for-profit and community lenders across the country. By partnering with these lenders, LendKey is able to give consumers direct access to the best rates available from the most borrower friendly institutions. As the servicer of all loans obtained through its platform, you can rest easy knowing your personal information will be safe and that the best customer service team will be ready to answer your questions from application until your final payment.
Offers unemployment protection and career/coaching/networking
SoFi, which stands for “Social Finance,” was created by a group of Stanford business students who found themselves with a mountain of debt after graduation. They set out to change the student loan industry and help borrowers like themselves to get lower interest rates. SoFi has some of the lowest interest rates and, unlike the other lenders we reviewed, it has no maximum amount you can finance. However, Nevada residents can’t currently refinance with SoFi. Minimum loan balances are higher in Arizona, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania due to state laws. Additional state restrictions may apply.
For every loan they fund, they contribute to the education of a child in need
CommonBond was founded in 2011 by three MBA graduates from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who wanted to help their peers escape from high-interest student loan debt. Its original focus was on grad students, but it has since expanded to cover undergrads as well.
Of all the companies we reviewed, CommonBond has some of the best customer service. The company prides itself on being easy to reach by email, phone, or live chat. It offers networking events, expert panels, insider newsletters, and even has a program help borrowers who lose their jobs to find new ones. CommonBond also makes you feel good about choosing to refinance with them by donating money to an education nonprofit for each loan they write.
Get a personalized review of your refinancing options with CommonBond today.
Earnest empowers people with the financial captial they need to live better lives.
Using technology, data, and design to build affordable products, Earnest's lending products are built for a new generation seeking to reach life's milestones. The company understands every applicant's unique financial story to offer the lowest possible rates and radically flexible loan options for living life.
Click here to apply with Earnest and to see how much you can save.
Operates in all 50 states; 2nd largest student loan refinancing lender
Laurel Road is a national online lender with customers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Many of our non-bank competitors are not able to lend in all 50 states.Laurel Road has grown to be the second largest player in the student loan refinancing space in large part because of our reputation as the go-to low rate provider.
Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products
Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with new rates as low as 3.25% fixed APR which can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loans. No application or origination fees and no prepayment penalties. Splash Financial is in all 50 states and is intensely focused on customer service. Splash Financial is also one of the few companies that offers a great medical resident and fellow refinance product. You can check your rate with Splash in just minutes.
Click here to see more of Splash's offerings and to see how you can save money.