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Updated on Wednesday, November 25, 2015
The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, better known as MOHELA, has over 30 years of experience assisting students and parents with student loans. It has been servicing federal student loans since 2011.
If your student loans are serviced through MOHELA, and you’re not sure how to contact a representative, or where to find information on the website, read on for a review of the services it provides to borrowers.
Overview of MOHELA
MOHELA doesn’t have the most user-friendly website out there, especially for a student loan servicer. If you’re a little lost as to where you can find things, the first page to check is the FAQ. (You’ve probably already done this, but if not, register for an account online. It will make communication and paying your loans easier.)
MOHELA also has an information center you should look at which answers questions on repayment options, benefits, and general account management.
Loan forgiveness and discharge programs: The contact information and qualifications you need to meet for the various student loan forgiveness and discharge programs is listed here.
Military benefits branch chart: Have you served in the Armed Forces or the National Guard? Depending on the branch of service, you may be eligible for additional benefits, such as a reduced interest rate, military deferment and forbearance, and more. It’s worth looking into.
Repayment Plans: As a federal student loan borrower, you have many repayment options available to you in case you can’t afford the minimum payment under the standard repayment plan. MOHELA encourages borrowers to contact a representative if they’re experiencing difficulty paying. The last thing you want to do is become delinquent or default on your student loans.
What Borrowers Are Saying
While MOHELA has a BBB rating of A+, there have been 182 complaints closed in the last 3 years, with 127 of those involving a billing or collection issue. You can read the complaints, but MOHELA provides the same canned response to each one – that financial privacy laws prevent borrower-specific information from being shared. Other student loan servicers, such as Great Lakes and Nelnet, have provided correspondence via BBB.
One of the most common complaints on the BBB website is that MOHELA “harasses” people with phone calls – even people who don’t have loans serviced through the company. It seems that MOHELA frequently has incorrect information on file, which may result in receiving phone calls that aren’t meant for you.
Additionally, back in 2012, a large amount of student loans were transferred to MOHELA, and the process was anything but smooth. Many complaints were made that terms of loans were changed in the midst of the transfer; others reported receiving no warning as to when their next payment was due. There’s a relevant complaint on the BBB from September 2015 citing that a borrower’s loan was transferred to MOHELA, and a payment made to the company was never posted, even though it was deducted from their account.
Need to Resolve a Dispute With MOHELA?
The complaints listed above shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’ve been experiencing difficulty when dealing with MOHELA, you need to make your voice heard. The Federal Student Aid office offers tips on how to prepare to contact a representative to resolve an issue.
It seems like many people prefer to take the email route when contacting a company, but a phone call can often resolve matters more quickly (provided you can navigate the menu easily, which some borrowers have also complained about).
You can call MOHELA at 888-866-4352 to speak with a representative from 7:00AM – 9:00 PM CT Monday through Thursday, and from 7:00AM – 5:00PM CT on Friday. The website also offers an option to schedule a representative to call you when convenient.
MOHELA also encourages borrowers to connect via social media. A quick look at its Facebook page shows that representatives are there responding to comments and concerns. Similarly, representatives are reaching out to unsatisfied borrowers on Twitter. One Tweet recommended sending feedback to [email protected].
You can also choose to send a secure email via the site if you’re having a specific issue. Otherwise, you can send a letter to:
633 Spirit Drive
Chesterfield, MO 63005-1243
Finally, while there’s the Student Aid Ombudsman Group through the U.S. Department of Education, MOHELA has its own Ombudsman and will take your complaints into consideration here. Even if you’re skeptical of receiving help, it can’t hurt to fill out the form, especially as it’s short. MOHELA states that it will answer complaints within three business days of receiving your form.
Student Loan Borrower Assistance has specific contact information as well. If you don’t hear back using the generic form, try contacting Paul Voigt (listed as the Federal Reporting Officer on MOHELA’s site) at 636-532-0600 ext. 3465, or emailing him at [email protected].
Taking Complaints to the Student Aid Ombudsman Group
Even though you’d probably prefer to go straight to the Student Aid Ombudsman Group first, the Federal Student Aid office strongly recommends contacting your loan servicer beforehand. You need proof that you’ve attempted to resolve the dispute, and having records of communication helps as well. This checklist will help you gather the necessary information the Ombudsman will want to see.
Keep in mind that the Ombudsman is not an advocate. They’re a neutral third-party mediator. That means they won’t take sides, but they will assist you in resolving the issue you have if they determine MOHELA’s efforts have not been satisfactory.
There are a few ways you can contact the Ombudsman. The easiest is to go here and fill out the short form. You can also send a letter or form to this address:
U.S. Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman Group
830 First Street, N.E., Mail Stop 5144
Washington, DC 20202-5144
Lastly, you can call 1-877-557-2575 or fax your letter or form to 202-275-0549.
Have Private Loans? Go to the CFPB
If you have private loans (which include federal loans consolidated into private loans), and not federal loans, the Student Aid Ombudsman Group can’t help you. That’s where the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) comes in. It can assist you in handling complaints you have about MOHELA if you have private loans serviced there.
The process of submitting a complaint is very simple and can be done online in just five steps. Be prepared with information before you fill out the form, as you’ll be asked about the problem you’ve experienced and what your desired resolution is. Refer to the same checklist as cited above to ensure you have everything you need.
Once you’ve completed the form, the CFPB gives MOHELA 15 days to address your complaint. If a resolution can’t be reached, the CFPB will assist you in resolving the issue.
Always Stay in Contact With Your Student Loan Servicer
Whether you like it or not, your loan servicer is MOHELA, and its representatives are the most well-equipped to handle any concerns you have about your student loans. MOHELA places emphasis on calling, so your best bet is to pick up the phone and get in touch with a representative that way. If you don’t feel like your concerns are being addressed, get on social media, send emails, and continue calling.
If that doesn’t work, contact the Student Aid Ombudsman Group or the CFPB to see if your problem can be laid to rest. Issues with loans can be difficult to deal with, but the sooner you address them, the better off you’ll be.