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Sample Goodwill Letter to Remove a Late Student Loan Payment from Your Credit Report

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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If you’ve pulled your credit report recently and discovered that there’s been a late payment reported on your student loans, you might be wondering what you can do to recover. Late payments can damage your credit, especially if you stop paying your loans for an extended period of time.

We’ve already gone over the repercussions of delinquency and default, but now let’s take a look at another method of repairing your credit report — sending a goodwill letter to your creditor.

What is a goodwill letter?

A “goodwill letter” is a simple way to repair your credit report, and it can be used for both federal and private loans. The purpose of a goodwill letter is to restore your credit to good standing by having a lender or servicer erase a lateness on your credit report.

Typically, those who have experienced financial hardship due to unexpected circumstances have the most success with goodwill letters. They allow you to ask if your student loan servicer can empathize with the situation that caused the lateness and erase it from your report.

It can also be used when you think the late payment is an error — for example, if you were in deferment or forbearance during the time of the late payment and weren’t required to make any payments, or if you know you’ve never been late on a payment before.

What makes a convincing goodwill letter?

If you’ve been looking for a goodwill letter that will work well, we have some tips on what you should include in your letter:

1. An appreciative tone

It’s important that the entire tone of your letter comes off as thankful and conscientious. If you were actually late on your payments due to extenuating circumstances, taking an angry tone probably won’t help your case.

2. Take responsibility

You want to be convincing and honest. Take responsibility for the late payment, and explain why it happened. They need to sympathize with you. Saying you just forgot isn’t going to win you any points.

3. A good recent payment history

Besides sympathy, you want to gain their trust that you will continue to make payments. If your lender sees payments being made on time before and after the period of financial hardship, it might be more willing to give you a break. When you have a pattern of late payments, on the other hand, it’s more difficult to convince them that you’re taking this seriously.

4. Proof of any errors and relevant documents

If you’re writing about a mistake that occurred, still be friendly in tone, but back up the errors with documentation. You’ll need proof that what you’re saying is true. Unfortunately, errors are often made on credit reports, and it may have been a clerical error on behalf of your servicer. If you have any written correspondence with them, you’ll want to include it.

5. Simple and to the point

The last thing to keep in mind is to craft a short and simple letter. Get straight to the point while telling your story. The people reviewing your letter don’t want to read an essay, and the easier you make their lives, the better.

Sample goodwill letter No. 1

Below is a sample goodwill letter for student loans to give you an idea of how to structure your own:

To whom It may concern:

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this letter. I just pulled my credit report, and discovered that a late payment was reported on [date] for my account [loan account number].

During that time, my mother fell terminally ill, and I was the only one left to care for her. As such, I had to leave my job, and my savings went toward her health care expenses. I fell on very rough times after she passed away, and was unable to make my student loan payments.

I realize I made a mistake in falling behind, but up until that point, my payment history with you had been spotless. When I was able to gain employment once again, I quickly resumed paying my student loans, making them a priority.

I’m not proud of this black mark on my record, but it’s the only one I have, and I would be extremely grateful if you could honor this request to remove the lateness from my credit report. It would help me immensely in securing other lines of credit so that I can further improve my credit score.

If the lateness cannot be removed entirely, I would still be appreciative if you could make a goodwill adjustment.

Thank you.

Sample goodwill letter No. 2

If you’re writing a letter because the lateness on your credit report is inaccurate, then try something similar to this:

To whom it may concern:

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I recently pulled my credit report and found that [Loan servicer] reported a late payment regarding my account [loan account number].

I am requesting that this late payment be assessed for accuracy.

I believe this reporting is incorrect because [list the supporting facts you have]. I have included the documentation to prove that [I made payments during this time / that my loans were in forbearance/deferment and didn’t require any payments].

Please investigate this matter, and if it is found to be inaccurate, remove the lateness from my credit report.

Thank you.

Make sure you provide as many personal details as possible — without making the letter too long, of course. You should also include your name, address and phone number at the top of the letter in case your loan servicer needs to reach you immediately.

Where to send your goodwill letter

Now that your letter is written, it’s time to send it. This can be done either by fax or by mail. Most student loan servicers have their contact information on their website, but you can also look on your billing statements to see if they specify a different address.

Additionally, you can try calling the credit bureau where the lateness was reported to see if they can give you the contact information you need.

It’s important to mention that goodwill letters are not a means to immediate success. Unfortunately, it often takes several attempts to correspond with servicers and lenders to get them to acknowledge that they received a letter from you.

Your best bet is to get a personal contact at the company who has the power to erase the late payment from your credit report.

If all else fails, try as many different communication methods as possible. Phone, mail, fax, live chat (if your servicer offers it) and email them. Several people who have tried this report that it’s possible to wear your servicer down with a decent amount of requests.

Addresses and fax numbers to try

Here are some addresses and fax numbers for several of the larger servicers, as listed on their websites. Again, it may also be worth phoning your servicer to get the name of someone there that can help you. If you have federal student loans, you can also check this Federal Student Aid page for more contact information.

Nelnet

Documents related to deferment, forbearance, repayment plans or enrollment status changes:

Attn: Enrollment Processing

P.O. Box 82565

Lincoln, NE 68501-2565

Fax: 877-402-5816

Great Lakes

Great Lakes

P.O. Box 7860

Madison, WI 53707-7860

Fax: 800-375-5288

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae

P.O. Box 3229

Wilmington DE 19804-0229

Fax: 855-756-0011

Navient

For anything other than federal loans, check here

Navient – U.S. Department of Education Loan Servicing

P.O. Box 9635

Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773-9635

Fax: 866-266-0178

Cornerstone

P.O. Box 145122

Salt Lake City, UT

84114-5122

Fax: 801-366-8400

FedLoan

For letters and correspondence

FedLoan Servicing

P.O. Box 69184

Harrisburg, PA 17106-9184

Fax: 717-720-1628

EdFinancial

For FFELP and private loans, check here

Edfinancial Services

P.O. Box 36008

Knoxville, TN 37930-6008

Fax: 800-887-6130

Documents to include with your goodwill letter

Don’t let your efforts go to waste by forgetting to send documentation with your letter. Here’s a quick checklist of what you should include:

  • The account number for your loan
  • Your name, address, phone number and email
  • Statements showing proof that you paid (if you’re disputing a late payment)
  • Documentation showing that you’ve paid on time at all other points aside from when you experienced financial hardship (if that’s the case)
  • Identifying documentation so your servicer knows you sent the request

Also note that if you’re mailing anything, you should send it by certified mail with a receipt requested. This way you’ll know whether your letter made it to the servicer.

What to expect after submitting your goodwill letter

Once you submit your goodwill letter, you should hear back from your creditor with a decision in a few weeks. If two to three weeks have passed without word, follow up via email or phone call.

As you know, there’s no guarantee that your goodwill letter will work. The decision to remove a negative mark from your credit report is entirely in the hands of your creditor.

If your creditor rejects your petition, you’ll have to accept the ding on your credit report and take other steps to boost your credit. But if they agree to repair your credit, you should see the delinquency removed from your report and your credit score increase as a result.

A higher credit score can make life a lot easier, whether you want to take out a loan, open a credit card or, in some cases, even rent an apartment. For student loan borrowers, a strong credit score also opens the door to student loan refinancing, a savvy strategy that lets you restructure your debt, possibly changing your monthly payment and potentially saving money on interest.

If your credit score rebounds and you want to take proactive steps to conquer your student debt, refinancing could be the answer you’ve been looking for, so long as you no longer need the protections that come with federal loans.

Either way, though, make sure to keep up with student loan payments so you don’t end up with a delinquent account dragging down your newly repaired credit score.

Resources

If you’re interested in exploring goodwill letters further — and the results that others have had — check out these websites:

  • Ed.gov: They cover disputes, what to do about them and how to go about rectifying them here.
  • ConsumerFinance.gov: If you have loans with a private lender, and your lender had reported you as late when you weren’t, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to see if they can help you.
  • myFico Forums: The forums on myFico are populated with helpful individuals that might be able to give you contact information for certain servicers. There are some people reporting success with goodwill letters, and they may be willing to share their letters with others upon request.

It’s worth the time to write a goodwill letter

If you’ve discovered that a late payment has been reported on your credit, and it’s because you fell on hard times or is inaccurate, it’s worth trying to get it erased. These dings on your credit are there to stay for seven to 10 years. That’s a long time, especially if you’re young and hoping to buy a house or a car in the near future. It’s a battle worth fighting.

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Rebecca Safier
Rebecca Safier |

Rebecca Safier is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Rebecca here

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College Students and Recent Grads

Student Loan Disbursement 101

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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You’ve applied for financial aid, agreed to take out a student loan or two, and are about to head off to college. But when will you receive your “student loan disbursement,” and will the funds go to you or your school?

If you’re borrowing student loans, it’s crucial to understand how student loan disbursement works. This guide will explain how student loans are distributed, whether you’re borrowing from the federal government or a private lender.

What is student loan disbursement?

Student loan disbursement is just a fancy term for the payout of funds from your lender. Note that after you agree to borrow a loan, you typically don’t get the money deposited in your bank account right away.

Instead, you have to wait for a certain period of time while your lender gets your application in order. You might also have to take various steps before your lender will disburse the funds, such as student loan entrance counseling.

Before your student loan is disbursed, both your school and your lender should notify you in writing that the money is on its way. This notification should also detail how much you borrowed and when and how you will receive your funds.

When will your student loans be disbursed?

In most cases, you’ll receive your loans at least 10 days before classes start. If you’re a first-time borrower, you could have a waiting period of 30 days after your first enrollment period.

Typically, student loans are disbursed in two payments a year — once per semester. To confirm this is the case at your school, reach out to your college’s financial aid office for more information.

Depending on whom you borrowed from, your lender might send the money to your school’s financial aid office, where it will be applied to tuition and fees. If there’s a difference left over, the school will then return that money to you to use on books, food or other living expenses.

That said, the process might be different, depending on whether you borrowed federal student loans from the Department of Education or private student loans from a bank or credit union.

How federal student loans are disbursed

If you submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you put yourself in the running for federal student loans from the government. These federal student loans include subsidized and unsubsidized direct loans, as well as PLUS loans, which your parents can apply for separately.

If you’re a first-time borrower, you’ll need to complete student loan entrance counseling before your funds can be disbursed. Found online at the Federal Student Aid website, entrance counseling goes over your responsibilities as a borrower. It takes just 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

Once your loan is ready to be disbursed, the Department of Education will send it directly to your school. Your school will apply that money to cover tuition and any other fees. As noted above, if there’s a remainder left over, your school will send it to you.

You can then use that money to cover living expenses throughout the semester. Alternatively, you could return the loan money so you don’t end up paying interest on it. In fact, you have a 120-day window after the loan is disbursed during which you can return some or all of the funds.

After that time, you can still return any left over loan money, but you might have to pay a small amount of interest if it has accrued. As you know, student loans aren’t free money, so it’s often best to minimize the amount you borrow in order to make your repayment quicker and easier.

If you can cover living expenses with a part-time job or scholarships instead of loans, you’ll have lower student loan payments after graduation.

How private student loans are disbursed

Although federal student loans tend to have the best interest rates and benefits, they don’t always cover the full cost of college. If that’s the case, you might decide to borrow from a private lender, such as a bank, online lender or credit union.

When it comes to disbursement of private student loans, each lender sets its own policy.

Some lenders transfer the loan directly to your bank account shortly after your application is approved. In this case, it’s your responsibility to send the funds to your school’s financial aid office to pay your tuition bill. You’re in charge of handling the money, paying tuition and using any leftover funds toward living expenses (or returning it to your lender).

On the other hand, your lender might act similarly to the federal government and disburse the loan directly to your school. When you borrow a school-certified private student loan, the lender typically sends your funds to your school rather than your own bank account, after first getting confirmation of your enrollment status, anticipated graduation date and cost of attendance.

As with federal student loan disbursement, you should receive any remaining money after your loan has been applied to tuition and fees.

Student loan disbursement after consolidation or refinancing

Current college students aren’t the only ones who have to wait around for their student loans to be disbursed. If you apply for student loan consolidation or refinancing after you graduate, you’ll also need to track the payout of funds from your new loan.

If you’re looking to simplify repayment of your federal student loans, you might roll them into one new direct consolidation loan. But the consolidation process takes 30 to 90 days to complete, so you don’t want to stop making payments on your current loan until your new one is up and running. Make sure your consolidation loan has been disbursed before switching your method of repayment.

The same goes for student loan refinancing, which involves turning one or more of your student loans into a new private student loan. Like consolidation, refinancing helps you simplify repayment. Plus, it has the added perk of potentially getting your a lower interest rate, so you can save money on your debt.

But here, too, you’ll need to wait a few weeks for your refinanced student loan to be disbursed before stopping payments on your old loans. Otherwise, you could end up accidentally falling behind on your bills.

Find out if your student loan money is on its way

In most cases, your student loan disbursement is sent straight to your college. After subtracting the costs of tuition and fees, you’ll get the remaining money to use at your discretion.

But student loan disbursement involves a lot of moving parts, and your experience might be different than someone else’s. If you’re not sure what to expect, reach out to your school’s financial aid office to point you in the right direction.

And if you borrowed private student loans, contact the bank or credit union for information on its policies. By staying up to date on your student loan disbursement schedule, you can prepare your finances before the start of the semester.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Rebecca Safier
Rebecca Safier |

Rebecca Safier is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Rebecca here

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College Students and Recent Grads

Military Student Loan Forgiveness and Repayment: A Complete Guide

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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For some of the nearly 1.3 million Americans who serve in the military, student loan repayment and forgiveness is a top concern — as it is for the even larger number of veterans.

Fortunately, the U.S. armed forces have a variety of opportunities to help you pay for college, in gratitude for your service. Here are the top military student loan forgiveness programs and repayment assistance offerings that could move you closer to a life free of school debt, whether you’re a veteran or on active duty.

Military student loan forgiveness programs

First, let’s look at the military’s student loan forgiveness options. If you qualify for any of these programs, you could get partial or complete forgiveness of your federal student loans.

National Defense Student Loan Discharge

The National Defense Student Loan Discharge offers loan forgiveness to military members who served in an imminent danger or direct fire area for at least one year.

In particular, this program will forgive your Perkins loan, which schools used to issue to students with demonstrated financial need (although the Perkins program expired in 2017). Depending on when your service ended, you could have 50% or 100% of your Perkins loan discharged through this program.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Since serving in the military is a public service, you could be on your way to gaining military student loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. PSLF offers complete loan forgiveness after 120 qualifying payments (typically over 10 years) while spending consecutive years in a nonprofit or governmental organization.

If you go on to teach at a public school, become a social worker, or start another job in a qualifying workplace after your service, you could be on track to earning forgiveness through PSLF even if you don’t stay in the military. Note, however, that you’ll need to put your student loans on an income-driven repayment plan to qualify for this program.

It’s also worth mentioning that the future of this program looks uncertain, with some politicians proposing its elimination altogether. So while PSLF could offer loan forgiveness after 10 years, there’s no guarantee that the program won’t change or shut down in the years to come.

Veterans Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

Veterans who have endured a service-related disability could get 100% of their student loans discharged through the Veterans Total and Permanent Disability Discharge. If your time in the military left you with such a disability, you could be released from your student loans completely.

Student loan repayment assistance programs for service members

If you don’t see a forgiveness option that fits your situation, know that the U.S. military also hands out payments you can apply to your student loan payments, helping you get out of debt sooner.

In many cases, these student loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) offer significant financial help toward eliminating your school debt. If you’re in the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard or Coast Guard, you could qualify for an award from one or more of these programs.

Army Student Loan Repayment: Active Duty

The Army Student Loan Repayment: Active Duty program offers up to $65,000 in student loan assistance to — as the name implies — active-duty service members. This program will pay up to one-third of your principal balance each year for three years.

Along with requiring that you enlist for at least three years, Army Student Loan Repayment also mandates that you score in at least the 50th percentile on your Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

Army Reserve College Loan Repayment Program

This program is designed for those in a qualifying military occupational speciality (MOS). If you enlist for at least six years, the Army Reserve College Loan Repayment Program could pay 15% of your student loan balance, making it similar to a forgiveness program rather than a traditional LRAP that doles out a set amount. Also note that the Army Reserve has additional incentives for reservists who previously did active duty in the regular Army, including up to $50,000 in repayment assistance.

Health Professions Student Loan Repayment Program

As a doctor, dentist or other health care provider on active duty or in the Army Reserve, you could receive up to $40,000 per year for three years through the Health Professions Loan Repayment Program. Considering many health care professionals leave medical school with six figures’ worth of debt, this potential $120,000 award could offer major financial relief.

National Guard Student Loan Repayment Program

If you enlist for six years or more in the National Guard, you could be eligible for up to $50,000 in military student loan assistance through the National Guard Student Loan Repayment Program.

Navy Student Loan Repayment Program

The Navy Student Loan Repayment Program is designed for sailors in their first three years of service. It could help you reduce your student loan balance by up to $65,000.

Air Force Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps Loan Repayment Program

As a JAG officer, you could receive up to $65,000 in military student loan forgiveness over three years. This assistance could be a big help in covering the costs of a law degree.

Coast Guard’s CSPI-Student Loan Repayment Program (CSPI-SLRP)

Whether you’re a current student or have already graduated, you could apply for the Coast Guard’s SLRP, which is designed for “motivated individuals who demonstrate a high caliber of academic and leadership excellence.” After getting accepted into this program and meeting other requirements, you could get up to $10,000 a year for six years to put toward your student loans.

Alternative options for military student loan repayment

Outside of regular student loan forgiveness and repayment-aid options, check out these other ways to manage your student debt as a veteran or active member of the military.

Cap interest through the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

Although most military student loan forgiveness programs are reserved for federal student debt, the SCRA could help you manage private student loans as well. Specifically, this act caps the amount of interest on your student loans, federal or private, at 6.00% while you’re on active duty. If you have high-interest loans, this perk could save you a significant amount of money. To qualify, you must have borrowed loans after Aug. 14, 2008.

HEROES Act waiver

If you opt for an income-driven plan or other alternative to the standard 10-year student loan repayment plan, you’ll typically have to recertify your plan on an annual basis. But with the HEROES Act waiver, you can keep your current plan without needing any new documentation for as long as you’re on active duty. That way, you can maintain your monthly student loan payment and not need to worry about filing paperwork every year.

Defer your student loans while you’re on active duty

If keeping up with your student loans feels impossible while you’re serving in the military, you could postpone payments on your federal student loans through deferment.

The Department of Education lets you defer your federal loans while you’re on active duty and for 13 months afterward. Some private lenders also offer deferment for military members, so check about your options for postponing payments on your private loans as well.

Unfortunately, interest could keep accruing on your loans during a period of deferment, unless you have subsidized loans. So while deferring your student loans could be a huge help, remember that your balance could keep growing until you resume repayment.

Adjust your bills with an income-driven repayment plan

If you’re worried about interest piling up during deferment but don’t have the income to make regular payments on the standard 10-year repayment schedule, consider using an income-driven plan. Programs such as Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and Pay As You Earn make your monthly payments affordable by adjusting them based on your discretionary income.

On these plans, you won’t have to pay more than 10%, 15% or 20% of your discretionary income, depending on which one you choose. And if you still have a balance after 20 or 25 years of on-time repayment, it could be forgiven completely.

Keep in mind though that income-driven plans are only available for federal student loans; private loans don’t qualify.

Consolidate your federal student loans to simplify repayment

If you’re tracking multiple federal student loans and payments, you could combine them into one with a direct consolidation loan.

By applying for federal consolidation, you could simplify repayment. Your new interest rate would be the weighted average of your old rates rounded up to the nearest 1/8 of a percent.

Although consolidation won’t necessarily save you any money, it could make your student loan payments easier to track. Just be sure consolidating won’t mess with your eligibility for any student loan forgiveness programs you’re pursuing.

Refinance your student loans for a lower interest rate

Many student loan forgiveness programs for military members, as well as income-driven repayment plans, only offer relief for federal student loans. But if you have high-interest private student loans, you might look into student loan refinancing.

By refinancing your debt, you could qualify for a lower interest rate, potentially saving a significant sum of money on your repayment. (Use our student loan refinance calculator to see how much you can trim your bill.) You can also choose new repayment terms, usually between five and 20 years, as well as adjust your monthly payment.

Both federal and private student loans are eligible for refinancing, but refinancing federal student loans means you turn them private. As a result, your federal student loans would become ineligible for forgiveness programs like PSLF or income-driven plans like IBR. So make sure to consider carefully whether you can afford to lose those benefits if you refinance federal loans.

Military student loan repayment assistance is out there for you

As a military member or veteran, you’ve volunteered years of your life to serve your country. In exchange, the government offers a number of student loan forgiveness and repayment assistance programs.

If you don’t qualify for these military student loan forgiveness programs, look into alternative options for managing your student loan debt. Whether you choose deferment, income-driven repayment, refinancing or another strategy, you have the power to conquer your student loans.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Rebecca Safier
Rebecca Safier |

Rebecca Safier is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Rebecca here

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