AES student loans services both federal loans and private loans, handling payments for millions of borrowers. Although often referred to as AES loans, AES isn’t the lender.
Instead, AES collects loan payments on behalf of other lenders and allows borrowers to change their repayment plan, if they qualify.
What are American Education Services (AES) and FedLoan?
Both AES, short for American Education Services, and FedLoan are part of PHEAA.
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is a national financial aid services provider for students based in Pennsylvania.
However, PHEAA’s reach expands well beyond the borders of the Keystone state.
AES started as a loan guarantor and servicer for various lenders throughout the country, including loans provided through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).
While FFELP loans are no longer issued, AES continues to service many loans already issued through the program.
FedLoan came along in 2009 and is now one of only a handful of organizations approved to service new loans issued by the US Department of Education.
Combined, these two parts of PHEAA service more student loans than nearly every other servicer.
However, the recent merger of Nelnet and Great Lakes makes the newly combined company larger than AES/FedLoan in both number of borrowers and loan portfolio volume.
How to get information about your AES student loans?
If you already know your loans are serviced by AES, you can view your loan information right on the AES website.
AES also provides a visual walk-through, so you’ll know how to navigate your account.
If you’re not sure who is servicing your loan or want to find information on additional loans, you can use either of these options:
- National Student Loan Data System: At NSLDS, you can view your federal loans and grants.
- Check your credit report. Private student loans appear on your credit report. You can Get a free credit report once each year from AnnualCreditReport.com
What does AES student loans do?
If AES services your loans, you’ll find several helpful resources available through American Education Services.
These range from payment-related services to a shared website that discusses ways to work through common financial.
Through its parent agency, PHEAA, AES also offers a website that targets education planning and allows students, parents, and counselor evaluate career choices.
AES manages and collects payments
Much of AES’s business involves collecting and servicing loans for other lenders. In effect, AES becomes the middleman.
They also maintain records of payments, balances, and fees.
Learn if you qualify for a student loan discharge or forgiveness
Available programs include loan forgiveness for teachers, disability-based discharges, and public service loan forgiveness.
Through these programs or others, you may be able to discharge all or part of your student loan balances or have balances forgiven.
AES supports federal income-driven repayment plans
Federal loans may offer special repayment plans. In addition to a standard repayment plan with fixed installment rates, you may qualify for 1 of 4 other repayment plans.
These include an income-sensitive plan that bases payments on loan amount and monthly gross income. Income-based repayment plans may also be available to borrowers experiencing financial hardship.
AES helps borrowers with deferment and forbearance options
If your financial situation prevents you from making timely loan payments, AES Offers a way to postpone your student loan payments with deferment or forbearance.
Deferment refers to a temporary period during which AES suspends your required payments. Forbearance can be either a suspension of required student loan payments or a reduction in required amounts.
Another big difference between the two is that in forbearance, you are responsible for interest payments. In deferment, you may not have to pay interest.
AES can help guide you through your payment options, including a deferment or forbearance, but can also help you set up an alternative payment plan.
In many cases, a simpler change like changing your due date or changing your payment plan is preferable to deferment or forbearance.
Service members can get assistance in managing their accounts
If you’re a serviceman or servicewoman, one of several unique repayment plan options can help make student loans more manageable or even offer loan forgiveness in some cases.
AES can help you connect with these special options available to service members, help you understand your eligibility, and explain documentation requirements.
Benefits can range from a cap on interest rates to loan forgiveness or even loan balances paid in full or in part by the Department of Defense.
AES operates 2 additional websites to help students and grads
In addition to servicing loans and offering loan repayment options, AES also offers 2 additional online resources.
First, a helpful website called YouCanDealWithIt.com provides plain-language advice for common financial situations facing students and grads.
Published by PHEAA, the site serves both AES and FedLoan borrowers as well as parents.
As a second resource, AES also offers EducationPlanner.org, which allows students to explore career possibilities, search for schools, and learn about financial aid options.
Payment options for your AES student loan
AES Recommends direct debit as the best way to make your student loan payments. However, several options make it easy to make payments in other ways.
- Direct Debit: With a direct debit, AES deducts your monthly payment automatically according to a fixed schedule. Direct debit payments help ensure that your payments arrive on time and that the correct amount is paid. In some cases, you may even earn a discounted interest rate by choosing direct debit as your payment option.
- Online: You can also make payments directly through the AES website. Online payments provide the convenience of making your payment at any time.
- Mobile App: You can use your Android or iOS mobile device to Make payments on the go. For more control over how your payments are applied, AES recommends making an online payment instead.
- Pay by phone: You can make payments to AES by phone as well. However, your payment will be distributed automatically to all loans on your account if you choose this method. For more granular control over how payments are applied, consider making an online payment instead.
- Pay by mail: AES Maintains a payment address in Baltimore, MD. If you choose to pay by check or money order, you can mail your payment directly to AES.
- Third party pay-services: Most banks and credit unions offer bill pay services. If your bank or credit union offers bill pay, you can use the service to make your payment to pay AES. Be aware that many bill pay services mail a check to the recipient as opposed to making electronic payments.
- Advance payments: AES Also offers the option of making payments in advance. This option is handy if you have extra money available and want to make more than one payment.
What are the options when you can’t pay your AES student loan?
If you’re unable to pay your AES student loan when it’s due or maybe even for an extended period, AES offers several options and possible solutions.
Change your AES student loan due date
First, you can change the due date for your loan. Reasons for changing your due date range from convenience to cash flow.
For example, you might want to pay all your bills at one time of the month.
Alternatively, you might want to spread out your payments, particularly if you have 2 or more big bills due at once.
Reduce your AES loan payment
AES also offers options to reduce your loan payment amount. Be aware, however, that these options may increase the term of your loan or increase the overall cost of borrowing.
For example, you can change your loan to a graduated payment plan which creates a smaller payment now and a larger payment later. Alternatively, AES also offers income-based payment options.
Postpone your student loan payment
If your current financial situation prevents you from making loan payments temporarily, you may qualify to postpone your student loan payments with AES through forbearance or deferment.
Through deferment – if you qualify – you can suspend your payments temporarily. If you qualify for forbearance, your lender can temporarily suspend or reduce your payments.
Federal student loan consolidation
Loan consolidation also offers another option. If you have multiple federal loans, you may qualify to consolidate those loans so that you have one payment with a single lender.
This strategy can help make student loans more affordable by reducing the amount due monthly.
If you’ve missed 1 or more student loan payments, AES offers 2 separate hotlines to help you prevent a default.
For Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans, call 1-800-328-0355. For Alternative (private) loans, call 1-800-233-0557.
Federal student loans are in default after 270 days of delinquency. A default can cause the entire balance of your loan to become due immediately.
Defaults can also lead to collection fees, negative credit items, and even wage garnishments. Contact AES to discuss payment options that can help get your loans back on track.
As a last resort, some borrowers investigate bankruptcy options. While bankruptcy can help with some types of debt, in most cases, student loan debt survives bankruptcy.
This means that you may still be responsible for student loan payments even after filing bankruptcy. AES offers guidance on how the bankruptcy process affects your loans.
However, it’s best to avoid bankruptcy if possible and explore other options.
Should you refinance your AES student loans?
Student loan refinancing can take 2 forms. If you have multiple student loans, student loan consolidation can combine the loans making one balance and one payment.
Alternatively, you can refinance a single loan, which can extend your term, lower your payments, or lower your interest rate.
- You can often reduce your monthly payment amount
- You can reduce the number of monthly payments in some cases
- Many loans have no prepayment penalties
- A fixed interest rate makes payment amounts predictable
- Consolidation allows you to refinance all your student loans at once
- For federal loan consolidation, there are no minimum balance requirements
- In many cases, you’ll extend your loan repayment period
- A longer repayment term often means you’ll pay more in interest
- You may lose some loan incentives by refinancing or consolidating your loans
- Perkins loans with a deferment subsidy lose the subsidy if consolidated or refinanced
- Those with lower credit scores may not earn the best rates
- You may lose eligibility for alternative payment plans, such as income-based repayment plans or loan forgiveness
Where to make complaints against AES?
It’s best to work directly with AES to resolve issues. However, if you feel you need to escalate your concerns, you have some options.
First, you can contact the AES Office of Consumer Advocacy at 1-800-213-9827. In this case, a representative works with both you and AES staff to find a resolution if possible.
Alternatively, if you have a federal loan, you can file a complaint with the US Department of Education.
For private student loans, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Either of these options should be used as a last resort.
In most cases, student loan issues can be resolved either directly through AES or with the help of a consumer advocate.
How to contact AES
AES offers several ways to get in touch. Their contact page makes a great starting point because the best way to reach out often depends on what you need to discuss.
The page also offers links to frequently asked questions, which may provide the answers you need. You can also contact the general switchboard at 1-800-233-0557. An AES representative can redirect your call as needed.
Additional Q&A about AES student loans
What is AES NCT?
National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts (NCT) uses AES for loan servicing, which means AES collects payments on behalf of NCT.
However, AES and NCT are distinct organizations. AES simply processes private student loan payments for NCT.
Does AES service both federal and private student loans?
Yes, AES services both federal and private student loans.
FedLoan, another branch AES’s parent organization PHEAA, services newly issued federal student loans. AES services some older types of federal student loans.
Is AES legitimate?
Yes, AES is legitimate and may be the servicer for your student loans. If you get mail from AES, don’t ignore it.
It isn’t uncommon for student loan borrowers to not know who is servicing their loan.
For federal loans, you can find your servicer by visiting The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).
For private student loans, your best starting point is to request a free credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com.
Is AES now Navient?
Navient is a separate organization from AES, although both organizations provide student loan servicing.
In some cases, lenders switch to a different loan servicer. Recently, the loans for some private student loan borrowers transferred from AES to Navient as the loan servicer.
Are American Education Services and FedLoan the same?
AES and FedLoan, while both part of PHEAA, operate under different trade names and service different types of loans.
AES services both private student and existing federal loans. FedLoan focuses on servicing newly issued federal loans.
PHEAA created FedLoan to reduce confusion and better focus resources and support staff for each type of loan.
Can I change AES to another student loan servicer?
The lender chooses which student loan servicer handles your loans.
In some cases, the lender may partner with a different loan servicer, in which case your servicer would change. Also, if you refinance your loan, you may also get a new loan servicer.
Can I pay AES loan with a credit card?
AES does not accept credit cards or debit cards for payment.
As an alternative to a debit card, you can consider using direct debit from your bank account, which may also earn you a discounted interest rate on your loan.
Can I change the interest rate on my AES student loan?
By making payments through an automatic direct debit, some borrowers can earn a lower rate with AES.
Alternatively, by refinancing or consolidating your student loans you may be able to earn a lower rate or reduce your monthly payment amounts.
Can I refinance my AES student loans?
If you qualify, you can refinance or consolidate your student loans serviced by AES.
However, when you refinance federal loans, your new loan will be with a private lender.
Also, by refinancing you may lose certain benefits available through federal programs, such as income-based repayment options or debt forgiveness options.
Is AES federal or private?
AES isn’t federal, although AES services both private student loans and federal student loans.
AES is part of The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), a quasi-governmental agency.
PHEAA was first formed by the PA state assembly and now operates under a board of directors made up of private-sector individuals.
AES, combined with FedLoan, is one of the largest student loan servicers in the nation.
While borrowers don’t have control over which company services their loans, they do have several ways to help manage their loan.
AES also offers useful resources for students, ranging from career choice guidance to financing options.