AES Student Loan Servicer Review

·12 min read

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This article first appeared on the Credible blog.

American Education Services (AES) is one of the largest student loan servicers in the U.S., servicing the federal and private student loans held by millions of students.

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What is American Education Services?

In 1963, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) established American Education Services (AES) to help service the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

Today, AES and its sister program FedLoan Servicing work to provide financial aid services to student borrowers around the country.

The organization services millions of students and thousands of schools, providing loan guarantees, loan servicing, financial aid processing, outreach, and other student aid programs.

What does American Education Services do?

As a student loan servicer, American Education Services handles the billing and other services required for student loans. AES does not originate student loans but instead acquires loans from other financial institutions like the U.S. Department of Education and other private lenders.

The PHEAA uses its earnings to cover its operating expenses and to support its public service mission, which includes administration of the Pennsylvania State Grant and developing new ways to reduce the financial burden of student loans for students, families, schools, and taxpayers.

In addition to managing and collecting payments from borrowers, AES performs a number of other essential duties including:

  • Helping borrowers manage and change payment due dates

  • Supporting various federal income-driven repayment plans in addition to the Standard Repayment Plan

  • Qualifying borrowers for student loan discharge and forgiveness

  • Helping borrowers to understand their options for deferment and forbearance in the event that they cannot afford to make payments

  • Making AES Student Loan Payments

  • Operating You Can Deal With It, which offers easy advice on how to deal with common financial situations for college students and recent graduates.

If your loans are serviced by AES, you can choose from a number of payment methods offered by AES to make your monthly payments, including:

  • Check by mail: If you’re old school and like your checks, AES recommends that you send your payment five to seven business days before the payment due date to ensure that it’s received on time

  • Phone: You can also make payments by phone Monday through Friday during regular business hours; payments made by phone post to your account within two business days

  • Mobile App: If you choose to download the AES mobile app, you can make your payment directly through the app (these payments are effective the same day they are submitted)

  • Online: You can also sign into your online account to make your payments, which will be credited to your account within two business days. Paying online also allows you to schedule advance payments (up to eight at a time).

  • Direct Debit: Signing up for direct debit, which automatically deducts monthly payments from your account on your due date, could earn you an interest rate reduction—score!

What If You Can’t Make Your AES Payment?

If you’re having difficulty making your student loan payments, you have a number of options at your disposal.

1. Change Due Date

If it helps, you can choose to change your payment due date so that it coincides with a time during the month when you know you’ll have funds available to cover your payment. So, for example, you could opt to have your payment due the day after you get paid, ensuring that you make your payment first thing.

In order to change your payment due date, you must:

  • Be in repayment

  • Have made your first scheduled monthly payment

  • Be current on your monthly payments, and

  • Have an eligible loan type (as some private student loans may not be eligible)

Just keep in mind that your requested due date must be between the 1st and 28th of each month.

2. Reduce Payments

If you need to reduce your monthly payments, you can do so by opting into a number of repayment plan offered by AES, including:

  • Standard Repayment: In this payment plan, you’ll pay the same amount per month throughout the life of the loan

  • Graduated Repayment: In this payment plan, you’ll make smaller payments at the beginning of your loan repayment and the payment amount will grow over the life of the loan

  • Income-Sensitive Repayment: In this payment plan, you’ll make monthly payments that are dependent on your monthly gross income and total student loan debt

  • Income-Based Repayment: In this payment plan, you’ll have lower monthly payments that extend beyond the standard 10-year repayment plan

  • 25-year Extended Repayment: In this payment plan, you’ll have reduced monthly payments—but you’ll be paying a lot longer
    These repayment plans each have their own eligibility requirements and are available for borrowers with federal student loans. You can estimate how much your monthly bill will change by using this repayment estimator.

If you have private student loans, AES encourages you to contact them to discuss alternative repayment options available to them.

3. Deferment and Forbearance Options

Students who are experiencing true financial hardship may decide that they need to place their student loans in deferment or forbearance, two options available to all borrowers with federal student loans and some borrowers with private student loans.

Student loan deferment is a process in which you can temporarily stop making your monthly student loan payments. If you have private student loans, your lender may or may not offer a form of deferment; if they do, they will have their own unique eligibility requirements that you’ll have to meet.

If you have federal student loans, you can qualify for deferment by meeting certain eligibility requirements such as:

  • Being enrolled at least half-time as a student

  • Experiencing economic hardship such as unemployment

  • Have eligible loans (FFEL Loans, Direct Loans, Perkins Loans)

Whether or not you’ll have to pay interest that accrues on your student loans while they are in deferment depends entirely on whether or not they are federally subsidized. If they are subsidized, you will not need to worry about the interest; if they are not subsidized, you will either need to pay the interest or it will be capitalized (added to your loan principal).

Student loan forbearance is more or less the same thing as deferment—an option to pause your student loan payments. The main differences are that during forbearance, students are responsible for paying all interest that accrues (even on subsidized student loans) and eligibility requirements.

Before using deferment or forbearance to stop making payments, it’s very important that you do your research to figure out whether your interest will continue to accrue and how much each option will cost you over the life of the loan. Very often, outside of true economic emergencies, you’ll find that an income-dependent repayment plan may be more beneficial than deferment and forbearance.

AES Interest Rates and Fees

If you have student loans serviced by American Education Services, it’s important that you understand that AES does not set the interest rates on your loans.

The interest rates for federal student loans are established by the U.S. Congress, and the interest loans on private student loans are set by the individual private lender who originated the loan.

Not sure what the interest rate is for your student loans being serviced by AES? You can find that information in a number of ways:

  • Logging into your account and navigating to your loan details

  • Contacting an AES student loan representative to ask

  • Looking at your monthly student loan statement

  • Logging into the National Student Loan Database (NSLDS) to view your student loan details

How to Lower Your AES Interest Rates

Since AES does not set the interest rates on your student loans, your options for reducing your rates with AES are limited. By signing up for AES’ direct debit payment option, you may qualify for a .25% interest reduction.

Otherwise, if you would like to change the interest rates on your student loans, you will need to consider refinancing your student loans.

Refinancing Your AES Student Loan

Student loan refinancing is the process of taking out a new loan to pay off your existing loan or loans.

Borrowers often refinance their student loans in order to:

  • Get a lower interest rate

  • Reduce their monthly payments

  • Shorten the term of their loan

  • Convert a variable-rate loan into a fixed-rate loan

  • Some combination of these benefits

Refinancing has the potential to help you save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. If interest rates have fallen significantly since you took out your loan or you have significantly improved your credit since taking out your loans, refinancing may make sense for you to pursue.

With Credible, you can compare student loan rates from various lenders in minutes.

It is important to keep in mind that there is no federal student loan refinancing program. If you would like to refinance your federal student loans, you can only do so by converting your federal student loan into a new private student loan.

If you’re not interested in refinancing your student loans to achieve a lower interest rate, but instead simply want to make your student loans simpler to handle, then student loan consolidation might be a better option for you. While similar to refinancing in some regards, consolidation, and refinancing are different in some pretty important ways, so it would be wise to fully understand both options before settling your plan.

While refinancing could save you a lot of money over the life of your loan, it may also mean giving up certain protections and benefits that come with federal student loans. Only you can determine whether the money you save will outweigh the federal benefits that you give up.

AES Reviews

Student borrowers typically do not have any say over who their federal student loan servicer will be. That being said, if American Education Services is your servicer, it is important that you have all of the information you need and understand what your servicer is and isn’t allowed to do.

As with any financial organization, AES has received many reviews from student borrowers around the country.

While many customers are happy and satisfied with the services and customer care that AES has provided, a number of reviewers of American Education Services have expressed dissatisfaction with AES’ billing process, citing poor communication or ill-informed loan representatives as concerns.

You can read customer reviews of AES at the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Where AES Stands Out

American Education Services is one of a limited number of organizations approved by the Department of Education to service federal student loans, which speaks to the quality of the services that it provides.

Some examples of what AES does well include:

  • Vast Resources for Student Borrowers: AES as an organization has an immense reservoir of knowledge about student loans, stemming from their more than 50 years of experience. In addition to the information hosted directly on its website, AES has a number of ancillary websites which offer valuable resources for students and their families, like You Can Deal With It, which outlines post-graduation success and strategies for paying off student loans, and EducationPlanner.org, which helps college students explore career options, find schools, and learn more about student aid opportunities.

  • Direct Debit: Students have the opportunity to make their monthly payments via direct debit, which makes it easier to stay on track of payments. Additionally, borrowers who sign up for direct debit may be eligible for an interest rate reduction of .25%.

  • Paperless Billing: You can opt for paperless billing to receive their statements by email instead of mail if you wish, cutting down on clutter and helping the environment.

  • Mobile App: You can download the AES mobile app (for both Android and iPhone users) to manage your account and make payments.

  • Spanish Website: In addition to the English version, Spanish speakers have access to a Spanish version of the site to ensure understanding.

  • Multiple Ways to Contact AES: In addition to the phone, email, mail, and fax, you can communicate with AES representatives via the company’s social channels and its online live-chat options.

Where AES Falls Short

Though American Education Services excels in many areas as a servicer, there are some areas where it could stand to improve:

  • Dated Website: The AES website is very dated in design and functionality, leaving a bit to be desired.

  • Confusing Navigation: Though AES provides a lot of valuable information for student loan borrowers, it can be incredibly frustrating to navigate through the site, making it difficult for borrowers to find the information that they are looking for.

How to Contact American Education Services

Borrowers whose loans have converted to AES should immediately visit the AES website to view all of the options and information available.

A defining characteristic of AES is that it has continuously evolved to meet the needs of its borrowers. You can reach AES online, by phone, or by mail. Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 7:30 am to 9:00 pm (ET).

Email

In order to ensure borrower privacy and security, AES requires you to sign into your account in order to send a secure email to AES representatives.

Phone

You can reach AES by phone at 800-233-0557.

Mail

You can send general correspondence to:
American Education Services
P.O. Box 2461
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2461

Social Media

In addition to using their social channels to publish and distribute valuable, informative content with a goal of educating and empowering borrowers, you can reach out to AES representatives via its social channels:

Live Chat

Available within each student’s account, live chat offer students an instant mode of communicating with AES loan counselors.

Final thoughts

American Education Services (AES) is a student loan servicer with more than 50 years of experience helping borrowers to manage and pay off their student loans.

That being said, there are countless reasons that college graduates whose loans are serviced by AES may decide to refinance or consolidate their loans with another lender.

Whether you’re the borrower or cosigner, Credible makes it easy to compare rates from multiple private student loan providers without affecting your credit score.

About the author: The goal of the Credible editorial writers and staff is to help our readers get up to speed on issues surrounding student loans, mortgage, and personal finance, so you can make informed decisions. We’re here to help you stay on top of the latest news, trends, concepts, and changes in policy and regulations.