Graduating from college and beginning your career is an exciting time. But, for many students, it’s also when they’ll need to start repaying their student loans.
If you took out private student loans during college, you’ll usually begin making payments to the lender that provided the loan. But if you have federal student loans, you’ll be assigned a federal loan servicer.
Granite State Resources and Management is one of 10 organizations that the Department of Education relies upon to service federal loans.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at what kind of service you can expect if you have Granite State student loans and what options are available if you want to change servicers.
What is Granite State?
Granite State is one of three not-for-profit organizations that are part of the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation (NHHEAF) Network Organizations.
Granite State has been around a long time. The company began servicing private and non-federal loans over 30 years ago in 1985. Next, it began servicing federal student loans (under the old FFEL program) in 1993.
Now, the company is one of six not-for-profit servicers that have been commissioned by the Department of Education to service the Federal Direct Student Loan Program.
Who has Granite State student loans?
A very small percentage of federal student loan borrowers have Granite State student loans.
Of the 20.06 million borrowers whose federal loans are in active repayment status, 17.51 of them are serviced by one of the Big Four federal loan servicers (FedLoan Servicing, Great Lakes, Nelnet and Navient).
That leaves 2.55 million borrowers. That’s still a large number. But you have to remember that those 2.55 million people are divided amongst six different not-for-profit servicers.
So, out of 20 million student loan recipients, it’s likely that less than 500,000 of them have Granite State as their servicer.
Granite State student loan review
If you are one of the few borrowers to be assigned Granite State as your servicer, you should probably consider yourself lucky. Smaller servicers, like Granite State, have the potential to offer more personal attention to their customers.
Student Loan Planner recently conducted a study that ranked each servicer based on the number of complaints they received in comparison to their number of borrowers.
Granite State came in at No. 3 in the study, with a rate of 22 complaints per million customers. For comparison, Navient (which ranked last in the study) received 656 complaints per million customers.
That doesn’t mean that Granite State is perfect, however. Looking at the latest CFPB and Better Business Bureau (BBB) data, you’ll see that they’ve received 19 CFPB complaints in the past year and they have 25 BBB complaints.
Both those numbers pale in comparison to the 2,850 CFPB complaints and 1,323 BBB complaints Navient received during that same period.
Granite State student loan complaints to look out for
Although the company has a smaller number of complaints, take a look at what customers are saying. Here are three noteworthy problems mentioned in negative Granite State student loans reviews:
1. Confusing billing and payment processes
One consumer who filed a Granite State complaint with the CFPB in September of 2019 cited several payment-related issues:
“Their website or billing process offers no ability to designate principal payments. Also, their billing process is deceptive, in that it lowers the monthly payment based on prepayments.”
If Granite State is your loan servicer, you’ll want to keep an eye out for similar problems. Check regularly to make sure that your payments are being appropriately applied to your account.
2. Removing borrowers from Income-Driven Repayment plans
One borrower on the Better Business Bureau’s website detailed how Granite State wrongfully removed them from their Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan.
First, the customer said that Granite State didn’t give enough notice about the annual income recertification. Granite State also allegedly never told the customer that the form could be submitted online. And, unfortunately, the snail mail copy of the form wasn’t processed until after the deadline — resulting in a big payment increase:
“My payment was increased from about $700 to $1,100 per month, but for the month of October they are charging penalties since they said I didn’t send in the paperwork on time and my current bill is for $2,100.”
To avoid hassles like this poor borrower is dealing with, make sure to keep a personal note of when your annual IDR Recertification Form is due. Don’t wait to receive a notice from your servicer. And keep in mind that you certainly can file your IDR Recertification Form online.
3. Assigning the wrong enrollment status
Switching schools can be stressful enough as it is. The last thing you need is for it to cause issues with your student loan enrollment status.
One borrower with Granite State student loans had withdrawn from one university and immediately enrolled as a full-time student at another. Unfortunately, Granite State mistakenly changed the borrower’s enrollment status to “withdrawn.”
That’s a big deal because students who have withdrawn from school are expected to begin making payments on their federal loans. According to the borrower’s complaint, it’s been incredibly difficult to get the Granite State customer service team to fix the problem:
“They will not listen to me that I believe that they are using my former university’s status of my enrollment, and not the school I had transferred to.”
Do you plan to change schools soon? If so, you’ll want to pay extra attention to your Granite State student loans. You’ll also want to keep an eye on your enrollment status if you plan to begin a graduate program after completing your undergraduate degree.
What can you do if you have Granite State student loans?
If you’re unhappy with Granite State as your student loan servicer, you may be wondering if you can just switch to a different federal loan servicer. Unfortunately, in most cases, that’s not possible.
Under normal circumstances, the Department of Education does not allow borrowers to pick or change student loan servicers. You have two main options if you want to give Granite State the boot.
Consolidate your Granite State student loans
If you have multiple federal student loans, you can consolidate them into one loan through the Direct Consolidation Loan Program. And during the consolidation process, you’ll be allowed to pick the federal loan servicer of your choice.
A Direct Consolidation Loan could be a good choice for those who want to escape Granite State, but don’t want to lose federal student loan benefits. For example, you’ll want to stick with federal loans if you’re pursuing Granite State student loan forgiveness through a federal program like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
In these cases, a Direct Consolidation Loan could be a strong choice. But keep in mind that you won’t be able to lower your interest rate. And you’ll lose credit for any qualifying payments that you’ve already made toward PSLF.
Refinance your Granite State student loans
If you don’t plan to take advantage of IDR or PSLF, you may want to consider refinancing your Granite State student loans instead. You will lose eligibility for federal benefits. But refinancing comes with a few benefits of its own.
First, refinancing allows you to combine all of your loans into a single loan, just as you can with a Direct Consolidation Loan. But with refinancing, you get the added benefit of being able to pick from dozens of private lenders. And since these lenders are in competition with one another, they have a bigger incentive to provide excellent customer service and support.
Most importantly, with refinancing you have the potential to lower your interest rate. And, depending on the size of your loan, that could save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loans.
Granite State is one of the better federal loan servicers
If you have to manage your loan with a federal loan servicer, you could do a lot worse than Granite State. Unlike the Big Four federal loan servicers, Granit State is a small nonprofit organization that seems to take customer service fairly seriously.
But you’ll still want to keep a close eye on how Granite State is handling your billing, payment plans and enrollment status. And if you have any serious issues with Granite State, you could file a complaint with the CFPB or BBB.
Finally, if you’re looking to refinance your Granite State student loans, Student Loan Planner has a list of the top 12 refinancing lenders for you to reference.
At a glance, you’ll be able to see the key terms and interest rates for each lender and their Student Loan Planner star ratings. And you may qualify for a $100 to $750 bonus.