Note that the government is allowing an interest-free pause for repayment on most federal student loans through the end of September 2020 to help ease the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Many other lenders and servicers are also offering relief options during this time. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for more.
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The Department of Education is in charge of issuing federal loans to college students, but once repayment rolls around, they often rely on third-party servicers to collect the monthly payments. If you have a federal student loan, it may be serviced by the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority (OSLA).
Here are a few things you should know about OSLA and what they do for student loan borrowers:
OSLA student loan review
Whether you went to college decades ago or more recently, OSLA may have serviced your Oklahoma student loan or federal student loan. Created in 1972, OSLA originated and owned Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) before the program ended in 2010 and has since remained of 11 federal loan servicers. It claimed to have serviced 130,000 borrowers.
As for customer service, the Better Business Bureau website awarded OSLA with an “A+ grade,” although the servicer has received mixed consumer reviews. There are dozens of concerns catalogued in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) complaint database, for example. Issues range from topics including credit reporting, customer service and debt collection practices.
For what it’s worth, OSLA wasn’t among the most-complained about servicers in the CFPB’s October 2019 report.
No student loan servicer is perfect, OSLA’s negative reviews may be the result of a few disgruntled borrowers. Either way, if you have OSLA loans, you can explore ways to switch loan servicers — or read on to find out how to make the most of your relationship with them.
How the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority works
OSLA is a public trust overseen by five trustees appointed by the governor of Oklahoma. Though it’s a nonprofit, the organization doesn’t receive any funds from the Oklahoma government. Rather, operating expenses are covered by the money they make from managing student loans.
Like other student loan servicers, OSLA acts as a middleman between borrowers and the Education Department by managing repayment of federal student loans. The organization only services Direct and FFEL Loans.
OSLA acts much like any loan servicer by accepting borrowers’ payments, figuring out alternative payment options and handling measures like deferment and forbearance. This is done through a website with an outdated design and lackluster user experience, however, although the servicer claims that its staff members average seven years’ experience in servicing student loans.
How OSLA helps federal student loan borrowers
One of the main ways OSLA helps federal student loan borrowers is through their “default aversion initiatives.” If a borrower is having trouble with maintaining the repayment schedule, they proactively reach out to understand and rectify the situation.
Through a customer service agent, the borrower will learn about the various options to stay on top of their payments and avoid defaulting at all costs. This includes cautioning borrowers about third-party student loan debt relief offers and outside credit repair services.
In addition, they communicate via their website and individual correspondence with borrowers about how to manage sudden changes in a borrower’s personal situation. For example, if a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster was declared in an area, OSLA quickly makes borrowers aware of their Disaster Forbearance options.
OSLA is also open about the variety of options to student loan borrowers beyond just their bread-and-butter of servicing loans. They provide information on potentially beneficial borrower programs, such as:
There are specialists and a highlighted section on the website’s homepage for U.S military service members to understand if they can receive any additional benefits.
Lastly, OSLA clearly lays out a number of repayment options for borrowers in addition to the Standard Repayment Plan.
Federal loan repayment plans available for OSLA loans
OSLA helps federal student loan borrowers by figuring out which repayment plan works best for them.
- Standard Payment: This is the basic 10-year repayment plan for borrowers who have federal student loans serviced by OSLA. Automatic payments can be set up and there are no additional fees from OSLA.
- Graduated Repayment: Available to Direct Loan borrowers, this plan has lower initial payments, but they increase in the future. That means the total interest paid will be higher than if you opted for the standard plan.
- Extended Repayment: A borrower can take a standard or graduated plan and extend the repayment term up to 25 years. Only loans that have been disbursed on or after October 7, 1998, qualify. In addition, you must have more than $30,000 left to pay on your FFEL loans or Direct Loans.
- Income-Sensitive Repayment: Borrowers can adjust their payment plan each year based on changes in their monthly incomes and total amount of student debt.
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR): Available to both FFEL and Direct Loans, borrowers’ payments are determined by how much you make, how many people are in your family, and how much you still have to repay on your student loans. After 20 or 25 years of making qualifying payments, the loans are forgiven.
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR): This is similar to the IBR with adjusted gross income, family size, and loan balance taken into consideration, but it’s for Direct Loans only and after 25 years of payments your loans are forgiven.
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE): This option is only available as of 2012 and is similar to IBR. The difference is to be eligible you must be a new borrower (taken out a loan after Oct. 1, 2007) and collected a Direct Loan disbursement after Oct. 1, 2011.
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE): Available starting in 2015, the plan is similar to PAYE except that there is no stipulation as to when you borrowed the money.
These options ensure that you’ll be able to find a way to pay back your student loans even if your financial situation changes. It’s just important to keep a line of communication with OSLA if you are having trouble making payments.
How to resolve disputes on your OSLA loans
If you’re disappointed by OSLA customer service, you have recourse. The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) makes its student loan ombudsman available to borrowers who have exhausted their options of dealing directly with their servicer. You can phone the ombudsman at 877-557-2575 or write to:
U.S. Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman Group
P.O. Box 1843
Monticello, KY 42633
Don’t assume the ombudsman will immediately side with you and solve all your servicer problems. Think of them more as an objective middleman between borrowers and servicers who can help bring about a resolution.
Keep in mind: OSLA could soon be replaced
OSLA allows customers to make payments online or via postal mail. The servicer’s website is outdated but still functions — as long as you can locate your OSLA account number.
On the other hand, whatever you’re used to handling on its website is likely to move to the FSA’s new one-stop shop servicing platform. Most recently, in February 2020, the Education Department announced that loans serviced by Great Lakes or Nelnet could be repaid directly via NextGen, with plans to include other loan servicers (including OSLA).
In the future, you might not have to navigate OSLA’s website at all.
How to contact OSLA about your federal student loans
Borrowers can reach OSLA in several ways and it depends on the type of loan you have.
- There are two websites available to borrowers whether you have a Direct Loan or FFEL Loan. Both can initially be accessed at public2.osla.org.
- You can reach OSLA by phone at 1-866-264-9762 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Standard Time between Monday and Friday. Or, you can email them at [email protected].
- Military personnel can call 844-835-7484 or email [email protected].
Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.
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