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CornerStone Education Loan Services is a nonprofit with more than 35 years of experience servicing federal student loans.

Though the organization is run by the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority, CornerStone services federal student loans for borrowers all over the country—which means they could be your servicer, even if you’re nowhere near Utah.

Read on to learn more about what CornerStone does and how they can help you successfully pay off your student loans.

What does CornerStone Education Loan Services do?

As a federal student loan servicer, CornerStone is primarily responsible for processing your student loan paperwork, collecting, and managing your student loan payments.

In addition, CornerStone performs a number of other essential duties as required of them by the federal government, many of which revolve around helping you, as a student loan borrower, understand the options available to you.

As such, CornerStone:

What types of student loans does CornerStone service?

While some student loan servicers will service both federal and private student loans, CornerStone only works with federal student loans.

This means that CornerStone may be your servicer if you have any of the following types of federal student loans:

  • Perkins Loans
  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans

Not sure whether or not CornerStone is your student loan servicer? Read this article to learn how you can find your student loan servicer using the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).

How to make your CornerStone student loan payments

If CornerStone is your student loan servicer, you have a number of payment methods at your disposal, including:

  • Online: Once you create an account through CornerStone’s online portal, you can make payments online anytime. CornerStone allows you to save your bank information to make paying online easier in the future and schedule payments ahead of time, so you never miss a payment deadline. Though CornerStone does not currently have an app, the website is mobile-friendly, which sets it apart from many other servicers.
  • Direct Debit: If you don’t want to have to think about making payments each month, you may want to sign up for direct debit (or automatic payments) which will automatically withdraw your payment from your checking account each month. Plus, depending on your student loan type, you may even qualify for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate, which could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan!
  • Phone: If you’d prefer to pay by phone, you can do so Monday through Friday during CornerStone’s regular business hours. When paying by phone, you can schedule payments up to 60 days in advance, and payments will be deducted within 24-48 hours after your call.
  • Check by Mail: Prefer to pay by snail mail? You can definitely do so, though CornerStone recommends sending your check five to seven days before your due date to ensure they receive it on time. You should also include your account number to ensure the payment is applied to the correct account.

How payments are applied

When making payments on your student loans, it’s important to understand exactly how CornerStone applies your payments — whether they’re regular or extra payments.

Generally, your regular monthly payments will first be applied to any fees you may have incurred on your account, and then to any accrued interest. Whatever is left afterward is used to pay down your student loan principal.

That being said, if you are enrolled in an income-based repayment plan, payments will first be applied to outstanding interest, then to fees, and then to your loan’s principal.

If you can’t make your CornerStone payment

Having difficulty making your student loan payments? Luckily, there are a number of ways that you can work with CornerStone to make your payments more manageable.

1. Change the due date

Sometimes, simply changing your payment due date can be enough to make paying back your student loans easier. If you find that your current due date falls at the same time as all of your other monthly payments, for example, you may want to request a due date change to a different time of the month, when you have fewer obligations.

To request a change of due date, all you need to do is contact CornerStone’s customer service department by calling 800-663-1662. In order to change your due date, you’ll need to:

  • Be in repayment
  • Be current on your monthly payments
  • Choose a due date between the 1st and 28th of the month

2. Reduce your payments

If simply changing your payment due date isn’t enough to make paying your loans back easier, don’t worry. CornerStone, as a federal student loan servicer, is required by law to help you understand your options for opting into a different repayment plan.

The different payment plans offered by CornerStone include:

  • Standard Repayment: In this payment plan, you’ll pay the same amount per month throughout the life of your loan
  • Graduated Repayment: In this payment plan, you’ll make smaller payments at the beginning of your loan repayment and the payment amount will grow over the life of the loan
  • Extended Repayment: In this payment plan, you’ll have reduced monthly payments—but you’ll be paying a lot longer, leading to much higher total interest payments over the life of the loan

In addition to the payment plans above, CornerStone offers a number of income-driven repayment plans where your monthly payment amount is calculated on your income.

Depending on how much money you make, your payment could be as low as $0 per month.

  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR): If your loan originated on or after July 1, 2014, you’ll pay 10% of your after-tax income and you’ll make payments for 20 years, at which point any remaining balance will be forgiven. If your loan was originated before then, you’ll pay 15% of your after-tax income and you’ll need to pay for 25 years to reach forgiveness
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR): You’ll pay either 20% of your after-tax income or the amount that you would pay on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over the course of 12 years (adjusted according to your income)—whatever is lower. After 25 years of making payments, any remaining balance will be forgiven (but remember, the forgiven balance is subject to taxes!)
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE): You’ll pay 10% of your after-tax income, but no more than what you’d pay on the standard repayment plan. After 20 years the balance of your loans will be forgiven

These repayment plans each have their own eligibility requirements and are available for borrowers with federal student loans. You can estimate how much your monthly bill will change by using this repayment estimator.

3. Consider placing your loans in deferment or forbearance

Students who are experiencing true financial hardship may decide that they need to place their student loans in deferment or forbearance, two options available to all borrowers with federal student loans.

Student loan deferment is a process in which you can temporarily stop making your monthly payments on federal student loans. If you have federal student loans, you can qualify for deferment by meeting certain eligibility requirements such as:

Being enrolled at least half-time as a student

  • For up to three years while experiencing economic hardship such as unemployment
  • When you’re on active military duty during war, a military operation, or a national emergency
  • You are disabled or caring for someone who is disabled
  • You are on leave from work due to pregnancy or while caring for your newborn child or newly-adopted child

Whether or not you’ll have to pay interest that accrues on your student loans while they are in deferment depends entirely on whether or not they are federally subsidized. If they are subsidized, you will not need to worry about the interest; if they are not subsidized, you will either need to pay the interest or it will be capitalized (added to your loan principal).

Student loan forbearance is more or less the same thing as deferment—an option to pause your student loan payments. The main differences are that during forbearance, students are responsible for paying all interest that accrues (even on subsidized student loans) and eligibility requirements.

Before using deferment or forbearance to stop making payments, it’s very important that you do your research to figure out whether your interest will continue to accrue and how much each option will cost you over the life of the loan. Very often, outside of true economic emergencies, you’ll find that an income-dependent repayment plan may be more beneficial than deferment and forbearance.

CornerStone interest rates and fees

If you have student loans serviced by CornerStone Education Loan Services, it’s important that you understand that CornerStone does not set the interest rates on your loans.

The interest rates on federal student loans are set by the U.S. Congress, meaning that CornerStone is not able to change your rate—no matter how nicely you ask!

Not sure what the interest rate is for your student loans being serviced by CornerStone? You can find that information in a number of ways:

  • Logging into your account and navigating to your loan details
  • Contacting a CornerStone student loan representative to ask
  • Looking at your monthly student loan statement
  • Logging into the National Student Loan Database (NSLDS) to view your student loan details

How to lower your CornerStone interest rates

Because CornerStone does not set the interest rates on your student loans, your options for reducing your rates with CornerStone are fairly limited.

If you sign up for automatic payments through CornerStone, then you may qualify for a 0.25% interest rate reduction (depending on your specific type of student loan). A quarter of a percent may not seem like a lot of money, but depending on your total student loan burden, it could translate into hundreds or thousands of dollars in savings over the life of your loan.

For example, let’s imagine that you have $25,000 of student loans with a 4.5% interest rate. Over the course of 10-year standard repayment, you’d pay a total of $6,091.52 in interest. If you were to drop your rate by 0.25%, you’d only pay $5,731.26 in interest—saving you more than $360!

If you want a greater interest rate reduction, you’ll need to consider refinancing your student loans with a private lender.

Refinancing your CornerStone student loan

Student loan refinancing is the process of taking out a new loan to pay off your existing loan or loans. Borrowers often refinance their student loans in order to:

  • Get a lower interest rate
  • Reduce their monthly payments
  • Shorten the term of their loan
  • Convert a variable-rate loan into a fixed-rate loan
  • Some combination of these benefits

Refinancing has the potential to help you save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. If interest rates have fallen significantly since you took out your loan or you have significantly improved your credit since taking out your loans, refinancing may make sense for you to pursue.

It is important to keep in mind that there is no federal student loan refinancing program. If you would like to refinance your federal student loans, you can only do so by converting your federal student loan into a new private student loan.

If you’re not interested in refinancing your student loans to achieve a lower interest rate, but instead simply want to make your student loans simpler to handle, then consolidation might be a better option for you. While similar to refinancing in some regards, consolidation, and refinancing are different in some pretty important ways, so it would be wise to fully understand both options before settling your plan.

While refinancing could save you a lot of money over the life of your loan, it may also mean giving up certain protections and benefits that come with federal student loans. Only you can determine whether the money you save will outweigh the federal benefits that you give up.

CornerStone reviews

Typically, borrowers don’t have any control over which company services their student loans; that decision is controlled by the federal government.

Still, it’s important that you, as a customer, have all of the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not to stay with CornerStone or consider refinancing to a different lender.

It’s also important that you understand what your servicer is and isn’t allowed to do.

As with any financial organization, CornerStone has received many reviews from student borrowers around the country, some positive and some negative. While many customers are happy with CornerStone’s responsiveness and customer service, others have expressed dissatisfaction with those exact same issues.

You can read customer reviews of CornerStone through their Facebook page and the Better Business Bureau.

Where CornerStone stands out

CornerStone is one of only nine organizations that have been approved by the Department of Education to service federal student loans, which speaks volumes about the quality of their service.

Some examples of what CornerStone does well, include:

  • Intuitive, Mobile-friendly Website: Though the site could use an update in design, it is fairly easy to navigate, especially compared to some other servicers. Additionally, the website is mobile-friendly, making it easy to manage payments even when you’re on the go.
  • Financial Literacy: CornerStone’s website offers a wide variety of information designed to help borrowers understand their student loans and the various options available to them. In addition to a wide library of information for borrowers who are members of the armed forces, CornerStone has doubled down on content about financial basics like budgeting, credit, and general financial literacy, as well as helpful calculators and even games.
  • Direct Debit: You can sign up for automatic payments to make managing your payments easier and even qualify for an interest rate reduction of .25%.
  • Multiple Ways to Contact CornerStone: In addition to phone, email, mail, and fax, you can communicate with CornerStone representatives via the company’s social channels.

Where CornerStone falls short

Though CornerStone excels in many areas as a servicer, there are some areas where it could stand to improve:

  • Customer Service: Though some borrowers are happy with CornerStone’s customer service, there are a number of negative reviews citing a lack of clear communication with regards to late payments and collections. These are mixed, though, with other reviews citing excellent customer service.
  • Lack of Online Form Submission: Whereas some other servicers allow users to submit forms online, CornerStone does not facilitate this: If you need to request a deferment, forbearance, a change in repayment plan, or other services, you’ll need to print the forms out and send them by mail. Though a small inconvenience, it still bears considering.

How to contact CornerStone Student Loans

If you need to contact CornerStone to discuss your student loan repayment, you have a number of avenues to do so: By phone, fax, mail, and even in person (if you are near Salt Lake City, Utah).

Phone and Fax

To speak with a CornerStone representative, you can call 800-663-1662. Paperwork and other communications can also be sent via fax to 801-366-5122.

Hours of operation for their call center are Monday through Thursday, from 6 am to 7 pm, and Friday from 6 am to 5 pm.

Mail

If you’d like to reach out to CornerStone by mail, you can send correspondence to:

P.O. Box 145122
Salt Lake City, UT
84114-5122

In Person

If you are in the Salt Lake City, Utah area and would like to meet with a CornerStone representative in person, you can do so by visiting the address below. Hours of Operation for walk-in appointments are Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm.

Board of Regents Building, The Gateway
60 South 400 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1284

Social Media

In addition to using their social channels to publish and distribute valuable, informative content with a goal of educating and empowering borrowers, you can reach out to CornerStone representatives via its social channels:

Facebook

Twitter

According to Facebook, CornerStone will typically respond to messages within a few hours.

Final thoughts

CornerStone Education Loan Services is a student loan servicer with more than 35 years of experience helping borrowers to manage and pay off their student loans.

That being said, there are countless reasons that college graduates whose loans are serviced by CornerStone may decide to refinance or consolidate their loans with another lender.

Only Credible lets you instantly compare the best student loan refinancing rates from CornerStone Student Loans as well as other top lenders. With Credible, you can compare the best options with no hidden fees, without affecting your credit score, and the assurance that your data is totally secure.