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OSLA, or the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority, is a federal student loan servicer with more than 40 years of experience helping students manage and repay their student loans.
OSLA was established by the state of Oklahoma as a public trust in 1972 specifically to benefit Oklahomans. But the company has serviced Federal Direct and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) for more than 130,000 student borrowers all across the country and might be your servicer regardless of your location.
Continue reading to learn more about what OSLA does, and how they can help you successfully manage and repay your federal student loans.
- What does OSLA do?
- How to make OSLA student loan payments
- What to do if you can’t make your student loan payments
- What are the interest rates and fees for OSLA student loans?
- Do I have to stay with OSLA until my loans are paid?
- Refinancing your OSLA student loan
- OSLA student loan reviews
- Pros and cons of OSLA
What does OSLA do?
OSLA, as a federal student loan servicer, is a sort of middleman between the U.S. Department of Education and borrowers of federal student loans. They’re responsible for processing student loan paperwork, collecting payments, and helping borrowers manage their loans.
Though these are its core duties, the company is also responsible for performing a number of other services as required by the federal government, including:
- Helping borrowers know whether they qualify for discharge and forgiveness
- Helping borrowers understand the mechanics of student loan deferment and forbearance
- Helping borrowers manage their payments
- Supporting the various income-driven repayment plans offered by the federal government
What types of student loans does OSLA service?
Though many student loan servicers support both private and federal student loans, OSLA only services federal student loans. More specifically, they only service Federal Direct Loans and loans disbursed through the (now defunct) Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program.
This means that OSLA may be your servicer if you:
- Borrowed a loan under the FFEL program before it was terminated in 2010
- Borrowed either a Direct Subsidized, Unsubsidized, Consolidation, or PLUS Loan
If you aren’t sure whether OSLA is your student loan servicer, visit StudentAid.gov and log in to your account to find out.
How to make OSLA student loan payments
If your federal student loans are serviced by OSLA and you’d like to make a payment, it’s important to understand that your payment options are different depending on whether you have a Direct Loan or an FFEL Loan.
If you have a Direct Loan serviced by OSLA, you can log in through this portal to access your student loan account and make payments online. You can also make payments by signing up for OSLA’s automatic payment system called KwikPay, or by mailing a check.
Alternatively, if you have an FFEL Loan serviced by OSLA, you should log in using this portal. As with Federal Direct loans, you can pay online, by check, or by signing up for EZ Pay, the automatic payment system for FFEL Loans.
Not sure whether your student loan is a Direct or FFEL Loan? Here’s an easy way to tell:
- If your account number begins with the number 8 or the letter F, then you have a Direct Loan.
- If your account number begins with a 0 and no letters, then you have an FFEL Loan.
What to do if you can’t make your student loan payments
If you have difficulty managing your student loan payments, you have a number of options available to help make paying back your loans easier.
1. Change the due date
If you’re unable to make your student loan payment due to other monthly obligations like your rent, credit card, or other payments, you may be able to change your due date so that it falls at a different point in the month, when you know you’ll have the funds and fewer obligations.
To request a change of due date, simply contact OSLA’s customer service department and explain your situation.
2. Change your payment plan
Like other federal student loan servicers, OSLA offers a number of different repayment plans to borrowers that are designed to make repayment easier.
Keep in mind that some of these are available to all borrowers, while some are dependent on your income levels.
Payment plans available to all borrowers include:
- Standard Repayment: The Standard Repayment Plan is just that: an agreed-upon fixed payment plan for a term period of 10 to 30 years.
- Graduated Repayment: Although the term period for a Graduated Repayment Plan may range from 10 to 30 years, you initially start with lower monthly payments that increase every two years.
- Extended Repayment: An Extended Repayment Plan allows you to repay your eligible student loans over an extended period up to 25 years.
Payment plans that are available based on income, family size and other eligibility requirements include:
- Income-Sensitive Repayment: The Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan is available to FFEL Program loan borrowers who have low incomes. Their payments may decrease or increase each year based on changes to their income level.
- Income-Based Repayment: The Income-Based Repayment Plan, known as an IBR plan, typically equals a payment of 15% of your discretionary income divided by 12.
- Income-Contingent Repayment: Known as an ICR Plan, this type of plan requires either 20% of your discretionary income divided by 12, or the amount you’d pay on a fixed monthly payment plan over the course of 12 years that’s adjusted based on your income changes. A borrower with an ICR Plan will pay whichever of the two repayment options above is lesser.
- Pay As You Earn: This repayment plan is typically 10% of your discretionary income, divided by 12, but not to exceed the 10-year Standard Repayment amount.
- Revised Pay As You Earn: Known as a REPAYE Plan, this plan requires monthly payments that are typically 10% of your discretionary income, divided by 12.
3. Place your loans into 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:
- You’re enrolled at least half-time as a student.
- You’re experiencing economic hardship, such as unemployment (for up to three years).
- You’re on active military duty during war, a military operation, or a national emergency.
- You’re disabled or caring for someone who is disabled.
- You’re on leave from work due to pregnancy or while caring for your newborn child or newly adopted child.
If your loans are federally subsidized, you won’t need to worry about interest accruing while your loans are in deferment.
If your loans are unsubsidized, though, you’ll either need to pay off the interest as it accrues or at the end of your deferment — or it will be added to the balance of your loan as principal, where it can begin accruing interest of its own.
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 the eligibility requirements.
Before using deferment or forbearance to stop making payments, it’s crucial 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-driven repayment plan may be more beneficial than deferment and forbearance.
What are the interest rates and fees for OSLA student loans?
Though you may think that OSLA is in charge of the interest rate for your loans, the reality is that interest rates on federal student loans are set by Congress.
Not sure what the interest rate is for your student loans? You can find that information in a number of ways:
- Log in to your account and navigate to your loan details.
- Contact an OSLA student loan representative to ask.
- Look at your monthly student loan statement.
- Log in to StudentAid.gov
Though your student loan servicer doesn’t set your interest rate, in some cases you may be able to lower your interest rate by signing up for direct debit (or automatic payments).
However, while OSLA offers automatic payments for both Direct and FFEL Loans, signing up won’t lower your interest rate. This means that if your loans are serviced by OSLA and you’d like to lower your rates, you’ll need to consider refinancing your student loans.
Do I have to stay with OSLA until my loans are paid?
If you’d like to move your loans to another servicer, you’ll need to refinance your OSLA loans. However, keep in mind that you’ll lose federal protections such as deferment and forbearance if you refinance.
Consider using the Credible platform to research lenders and compare rates to refinance your OSLA student loans.
Refinancing your OSLA student loan
Refinancing your student loans is the process of taking out a new loan to pay off the existing loan, and is often done to:
- Get a lower interest rate.
- Reduce monthly payments.
- Shorten the term of a loan.
- Convert a variable-rate loan into a fixed-rate loan.
- Achieve some combination of these benefits.
Depending on the terms of your original loan and your new loan, refinancing your student loans has the potential to help you save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. It could also make paying back your student loans easier by, for example, reducing your monthly payments to more manageable amounts.
Wondering if it’s worth it for you to refinance your student loan? If interest rates have fallen significantly since you took out your loan, you’ve greatly improved your credit score, or you’ve improved your debt-to-income ratio, refinancing is likely to be beneficial.
It’s important to keep in mind that if you refinance a federal student loan, it ceases to be a federal student loan. It becomes a private student loan, and that means you’ll be giving up valuable benefits like deferment and forbearance options, forgiveness eligibility, and more. It’s important that you keep the trade-offs in mind before deciding either way.
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 easier to handle, then consolidating student loans might be a better option for you.
While similar to refinancing in some regards, consolidation, and refinancing are different in some key ways, so it would be wise to fully understand both options before settling your plan.
OSLA student loan reviews
Generally speaking, unless a borrower decides to refinance their federal student loan with a private lender, they don’t have any control over who their student loan servicer will be. That decision is made by the federal government.
Still, borrowers should be armed with all the information they need to be able to make an informed decision about their servicer, including whether or not they should stay or consider refinancing with a different lender. It’s also important that you understand what your servicer is and isn’t allowed to do.
Reading reviews from other customers is one way to gain some valuable insight into how OSLA operates. As with any financial organization, OSLA has received many reviews from borrowers, both positive and negative, so it’s important to take any review with a grain of salt.
Looking at both the Better Business Bureau and Yelp will reveal predominantly negative reviews, with complaints largely focused on the company’s customer service, loan collection practices, and lack of communication.
But according to an internal survey conducted by OSLA, customer satisfaction has been consistently high across a number of areas.
Pros and cons of OSLA
If you hold federal student loans serviced by OSLA, you’ll enjoy the streamlined loan access and management provided on the website. If you hold other loans, however, you’ll discover that your account’s capabilities are limited to only your OSLA loans. Consider these pros and cons of OSLA serviced loans.
- An official partner of Federal Student Aid: As a servicer to Federal Student Aid, OSLA legitimately assists the government in managing federal student loans.
- Multiple Ways to pay: OSLA offers borrowers multiple ways to pay and manage their student loans, whether you prefer to pay online, by mail, or with automatic payments.
- Weekend live assistance hours available: While most government offices are only open to discuss student loans during standard business hours Monday through Friday, OSLA offers live representative assistance hours on Saturdays.
- They don’t service private student loans. If you’re a private student loan holder, you won’t be able to use OSLA to manage or pay your loan balance.
- You lose access to new information when consolidating or refinancing. If you decide to refinance or consolidate your federal student loans into private loans, OSLA won’t be able to provide information on the status of these loans once they’ve transitioned.
- Not all federal student loans are serviced by OSLA. You may have multiple loans serviced by multiple federal partners, which means you’ll need to create accounts and manage some loans on separate websites.
If you find yourself needing to contact OSLA to discuss your federal student loans, you can do so by logging into your account online, by phone, by email, or by mail. You can find their contact information on their website.
Nick Dauk contributed to the reporting for this article.