CornerStone Education Loan Services Review: Managing Your Federal Loans

CornerStone Education Loan Services Review: Managing Your Federal Loans

Update: CornerStone Education Loan Services, a subsidiary of the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority, has announced it terminated its federal loan servicing contract on Oct. 21, 2020. CornerStone was previously signed to service federal student loans through 2022, as the Department of Education has started welcoming new federal loan servicers into the fold.

If you’re among the approximately 1 million borrowers with CornerStone loans, your debt will be transferred to another servicer in the coming months, according to reports. Forbes reported that CornerStone loans would end up with FedLoan Servicing, a servicer whose own government contract expires in December 2021.

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CornerStone Education Loan Services — commonly referred to as CornerStone student loans — is a federal loan servicer. The company might be who you end up with when you take out federal student loans. If you have CornerStone education loans, here’s what you need to know to take advantage of all the company has to offer.

CornerStone student loans: the basics

When it comes to federal student loans, you don’t get to choose your loan servicer. Instead, the U.S. Department of Education appoints one to you after you receive your loan.

CornerStone is one of 10 federal loan servicers. It’s a nonprofit organization run by the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA) and is headquartered in Salt Lake City. Despite the name, the company services federal loans nationwide, not just the loans of Utah residents.

If CornerStone is your loan servicer, you will receive a letter from it once your loan is disbursed. CornerStone only works with federal student loans, not private student loans. That means you might end up with it if you have any of the following loans:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans
  • Perkins Loans

If you’re unsure whether you have CornerStone student loans, log into the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Office website.

If you’re struggling with your student loans, CornerStone Education Loan Services might be able to help in the following ways.

1. Alternative payment plans

Making your payments on time and in full each month can be difficult when you have a small salary. If you’re in danger of falling behind, input your CornerStone loan login or contact its customer support right away.

If you can afford to put some money toward your loans each month — but not the full payment that’s due — you might be able to work out an alternative payment option. Depending on your situation, you might qualify for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan.

With an IDR plan, the loan servicer caps your monthly payments at a percentage of your discretionary income and extends your repayment term. You’ll pay more in interest over time, but an IDR plan can dramatically reduce your payments to give you more breathing room in your budget.

You can apply for an IDR plan via the FSA website.

2. Deferment or forbearance

If you can’t afford to make any payment at all, you might qualify for a loan deferment. During a deferment, you can pause payments on your debt for up to 36 months.

If you have subsidized loans, the government will cover the interest that accrues on your debt. You might be eligible for a deferment if you’re unemployed, have a financial hardship or are currently enrolled in school.

Entering forbearance is similar to deferment. It allows you to postpone payments on your loans for up to 12 months at a time. Unlike deferment, you’re responsible for paying the interest that accrues on your debt, regardless of the type of loan you have.

3. Forgiveness and discharge

If you’re eligible for federal forgiveness or discharge programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, closed school discharge or total and permanent disability discharge, you can download the necessary forms on your servicer’s website without having to enter your CornerStone loan login.

What we like about CornerStone student loans

If you have CornerStone education loans, the following benefits can help you manage them.

Automatic payment discount

Keeping up with your payments is important to ensure you stay on track to pay off your debt and to protect your credit. To avoid late fees and other issues, you can set up automatic payments on your account. You won’t have to worry about manually making payments each month, and you’ll receive a 0.25% interest rate reduction.

Change your due date

If your debt is current (not delinquent), you can request to change your payment due date by entering your CornerStone loan login or calling its phone line. You might prefer pushing back your due date until a paycheck comes through, for example, or align it with your other monthly bills’ due dates.

In-person customer service

If you have CornerStone student loans, the company is one of the few loan servicers that offer in-person help. You can walk into their headquarters Monday through Friday during normal business hours to discuss your loans and any questions you might have. The building’s address is:

Board of Regents Building, Two Gateway
60 South 400 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1284

If you aren’t close to Salt Lake City, the CornerStone call center is open Monday through Friday but is unavailable on weekends. You can speak to a representative by calling 800-663-1662.

What to keep in mind about CornerStone student loans

Federal loan servicers have long been a target of borrower frustration, with some even facing lawsuits. While CornerStone student loans shouldn’t be lumped in with more infamous servicers, it’s not the perfect repayment partner for every borrower.

Not all customers satisfied

Just as with other federal loan servicers, CornerStone has seen its share of customer service complaints. A quick look at customer reviews for CornerStone/UHEAA show a mixed bag, with some borrowers upset over the information or service provided, while others are quite satisfied.

That said, CornerStone did manage to avoid ending up on the list of five servicers with the most complaints, as reported in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s October 2019 report.

NextGen might soon replace Cornerstone services

CornerStone Loans allows customers to make payments on its website, over the phone or by snail-mailing a paper check or money order.

Soon, however, submitting payments and other services will likely be done through the FSA’s NextGen platform. The Department of Education has started to renovate its FSA website to become a one-stop-shop for borrowers who have multiple loan servicers. By February 2020, Great Lakes and Nelnet borrowers were able to make payments in one place, with other servicers like CornerStone due to follow suit. In the future, you might not need to remember your CornerStone loan login at all.

Are CornerStone student loans right for you?

As a student loan borrower, you probably don’t have a very positive opinion of your student loan servicer. After all, you fork over hundreds of dollars each month — of course you’re not crazy about them.

But your loan servicer plays an important role in managing your student loans. It manages your payments, processes your paperwork and can even helps you if you can’t afford your payments.

If you have CornerStone student loans, it’s wise to check out the company’s website and see all the resources it has available. From financial literacy primers to alternative payment plans, CornerStone education information and tools give you the ability to take charge of your loans and become debt-free.

Unhappy with your loan servicer? Find out what you can do to get a new servicer.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

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