Federal student loans are often serviced by third-party servicers, which make a living collecting student loan payments. One of those servicers is the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority (OSLA). If you have federal student loans, OSLA may be your student loan servicer.
If that’s the case, what should you know about OSLA? What is it exactly, what services does it offer borrowers like yourself and is it the best choice for servicing your loans?
What is OSLA?
OSLA is the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority. It was originally created in 1972 as a public trust by the Oklahoma government to help Oklahomans specifically. During part of its history, OSLA also originated student loans.
According to its website, it was “a secondary market for FFEL loans; and performed origination and servicing of FFEL loans for 44 eligible lenders, members of the OSLA Student Lending Network.”
OSLA is a for-profit servicer that only services federal student loans. It doesn’t receive any state funds for operating expenses. One of its strengths is customer service. OSLA’s staff is consistently rated in the 90th percentile with good customer satisfaction ratings. It was also recognized as an Exceptional Performer by the U.S. Department of Education.
OSLA has serviced the loans of over 130,000 student loan borrowers. So if you have federal student loans, OSLA could be your servicer.
What loans does OSLA service?
OSLA only services federal student loans. Not only that, but it specifically services two types of federal loans.
Federal Direct Loans
Direct Loans are what most borrowers have these days and include subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Loans. Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students who show a financial need. The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on Direct Subsidized Loans during certain periods, such as when you’re in school at least half-time as well as during grace periods and deferment.
Direct Unsubsidized Loans are also federal loans. They’re available to both undergraduate and graduate students, but there’s no need to show financial need. Borrowers are responsible for paying the interest on these loans during all periods. This includes during school and grace periods.
Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program
FFEL loans began as part of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and launched the following year. This was the main federal student loan program for decades. Private lenders provided federally-guaranteed student loans to students and parents. The interest rates for FFEL loans was set by the U.S. government.
The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 ended the FFEL program, which was replaced by the Direct Loan Program. New FFEL Program loans were no longer issued after July 1, 2010. Over the history of the program, more than 60 million Americans received FFEL loans to fund their college education.
Although the FFEL program has ended, there are borrowers still paying off FFEL loans. Many of these loans are serviced by OSLA, which provides many services for borrowers of both FFEL loans and Direct Loans.
Services available through OSLA
What services does OSLA offer borrowers? Since it’s a third-party loan servicer, it only interacts with borrowers after they’ve received their student loans. OSLA also doesn’t originate student loans anymore.
OSLA helps borrowers in many ways, but here are some of its main roles:
Student loan payments: OSLA helps borrowers manage and make payments on their loans.
Loan deferment and forbearance: OSLA educates borrowers on their options when they need to pause student loan payments for hardship.
Forgiveness: OSLA is a resource for borrowers with questions about loan forgiveness. This includes Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) as well as other loan forgiveness options, like Teacher Loan Forgiveness. OSLA helps borrowers find out if they’re eligible for these types of programs.
Discharge: OSLA helps borrowers determine if they qualify for discharge.
Income-driven payments: OSLA supports income-driven repayment plans from the federal government.
Service members: Members of the armed forces may be eligible for certain benefits and repayment options. These are provided by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Defense. OSLA has staff dedicated to helping service members get the answers they need.
Disaster forbearance: If your loans are serviced by OSLA and you’ve been affected by a natural disaster, you may be eligible to postpone your student loan payment. You can receive up to 90 days by requesting forbearance due to a natural disaster.
Customer Service: OSLA offers several ways for borrowers to connect with customer support. This includes through the OSLA website, as well as through email, phone support and by mail.
OSLA’s website also includes many links to federal loan information and other pertinent info. Borrowers should go to the OSLA website to become familiar with all of its services.
What current borrowers are saying about OSLA
OSLA has a good reputation with its borrowers, which isn’t always the case with third-party servicers. With that said, it has received some notable customer complaints.
One borrower from Florida never received notice of his loan servicer or when payments were due. He checked his credit score one day and noticed it had dropped 155 points due to late student loan payments. His bill was sent to collections without one phone call or email, even though OSLA had his contact information. OSLA also had an incorrect mailing address, so he never received any kind of notice.
Another borrower had OSLA student loans showing up as late on their credit report when their three OSLA loans had already been consolidated with another lender.
Options for people with OSLA loans
Having loans serviced by OSLA leaves you with many repayment options. Because you have federal student loans, you can take advantage of various federal programs, including:
- Income-driven repayment plans
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness
OSLA’s customer service specialists can help walk you through your federal options. If you’re eligible for any of these federal programs, it makes sense to pursue them first.
Refinance your OSLA student loans
One way to potentially save money on your student loans is to refinance them through a private lender. Refinancing your loans can cut your interest rate and change your payment terms. You could potentially cut thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in interest charges over the life of your loan. Refinancing will most likely require a cosigner unless you’ve established excellent credit.
You need to be aware that refinancing federal loans turns them into private loans. This will block access to federal protections, such as loan forgiveness, income-driven repayment plans and forbearance. Make sure you won’t need access to those programs before pursuing refinancing.
As far as third-party loan servicers go, OSLA has a good reputation with its borrowers. If you’re satisfied with OSLA, that’s great! You never know what kind of loan servicer you’ll end up with, and many borrowers don’t get that lucky. If you aren’t sure about loan repayment through OSLA, Student Loan Planner’s consultants can help you find the right repayment plan for you.