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American Education Services (AES): Information and Resources for Borrowers

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AES or American Education Services is top of mind for millions of current and future student loan borrowers. As one of the largest loan servicers in the country, AES isn’t a lender — but it does handle loan repayment for both federal and private education debt.

Here’s our AES review of what you should know about this student loan servicer:

American Education Services (AES): the basics

AES was initially founded in 1963 by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) to help service loans through the now-defunct Family Federal Education Loan Program (FFELP). It also services private loans lent by nongovernmental financial institutions.

AES — known formally as “American Education Services — Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency” — is one of four primary federal student loan servicers (the other three being Nelnet, Navient and Great Lakes, which is owned by Navient but operates independently).

The AES_PHEAA federal loan portfolio by loan status

In-school$16.6 billion
Grace period$5.9 billion
Repayment$6.9 billion
Deferment$29.6 billion
Forbearance$313.5 billion
Other$3.3 billion

Source: Department of Education data as of June 30, 2020

Note that you don’t get to choose your federal service provider; instead, the government assigns you one. (With that said, you could switch servicers via a direct consolidation loan.)

Besides aessuccess.org, AES and PHEAA runs the website You Can Deal With It, which helps educate student borrowers on their student loan repayment options.

As a student loan servicer, AES functions much like the others. While it doesn’t grant loans itself, it will handle the monthly billing of your loan payment and field any repayment- or consolidation-related questions and concerns you may have about your loans.

Making AES student loan payments

American Education Services offers a variety of ways for borrowers to make student loan payments, including both traditional options (like paying via mail or telephone) and newer ones (paying online or on your mobile phone).

Students with loans serviced by AES can go to their website and sign up for an online account for instant access to their loans and a library of resources.

Through the online portal, borrowers can arrange to make a monthly one-time payment, and even schedule as many eight payments up to 180 days in advance.

You can also take advantage of the direct debit program. This allows borrowers to automatically debit their payment (autopay) from a validated checking account and potentially qualify for an interest rate reduction for doing so.

AES student loan repayment options

Some borrowers work with AES directly by calling customer service to discuss pausing their loan through deferment or forbearance. But there are other repayment options available through American Education Services, including:

  • Graduated payment plan, where borrowers make smaller payments at first, with the amount increasing over time as the borrower’s income (hopefully) rises as well.
  • Income-sensitive and income-based repayment plans, where the repayment amount is set based on net monthly income.
  • 25-year extended plan, which draws the typical 10-year repayment term out to 25 years, decreasing the monthly payments but increasing the total interest cost.

Borrowers with federal loans may also qualify for a variety of income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs.

AES also helps borrowers with their private student debt, which it refers to as “alternative loans.” AES may not have as many options available for private loan repayment, but its website suggests calling customer service to discuss any issues in the event of financial difficulty.

AES student loan consolidation

It’s worth noting here that AES also works with borrowers seeking to consolidate or refinance their loans into a lower interest rate.

AES student loan consolidation involves grouping your federal loans into one new governmental loan, streamlining your repayment. On the downside, a direct consolidation loan won’t lower your interest rates.

Although it may be easier to pursue AES student loan consolidation via the Department of Education, you can also look into refinancing your loans with a private lender. An extra benefit to refinance is that you might be able to get a lower interest rate, saving you a bundle of money, though you’ll need to shop around for your best deal and possibly find a cosigner if your credit isn’t strong.

Issues with American Education Services

Student loan servicers are often the subject of complaints by borrowers who feel they didn’t get the help they needed. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau student loan ombudsman’s 2019 report, in terms of the volume of complaints against the federal loan servicers, American Education Services came in second to Navient:

ServicerComplaintsBorrowers (in millions)Complaints per 10,000 borrowers
Navient2,0506.53.2
AES/PHEAA1,65882.1
Nelnet4806.30.8
Great Lakes1848.10.2

Complaints between Sep. 1, 2018, and Aug. 31, 2019.

Another black mark: In 2017, Massachusetts’ attorney general sued PHEAA for mismanaging the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

American Education Services’ spotty record could be coming home to roost. AES parent PHEAA saw its government contract extended through 2021 but no further (as of October 2020), as the Department of Education ushers in a group of new loan servicers.

For now, note that you can’t change your federal student loan servicer unless you consolidate or otherwise refinance your loans. Your federal loan could, however, be transferred to another provider by the government.

American Education Services contact information

Whether you have questions about your loan repayment options or want to look into AES student loan consolidation, the loan servicer is nothing if not available. You can reach out in the following ways:

Office Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (ET)
Phone: 800-233-0557
Email

Mailing address for general correspondence:
American Education Services
P.O. Box 2461
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2461

You can also contact AES via Facebook or Twitter.

 

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