If you’re anything like me, you might be a little weary about businesses that hide behind acronyms. You never know what the words behind those letters might be hiding! But as anyone who’s borrowed a federal student loan is bound to experience at one time or another will tell you, acronyms are just a part of the industry.
Case-in-point: MOHELA. While it’s natural to wonder what all those letters stand for, the important thing for you to know is that MOHELA is a federal student loan servicer. This means that if you’re receiving letters or emails from them, you definitely don’t want to throw them away (or click delete) without opening them.
Is MOHELA your student loan servicer? Below, we explore who MOHELA is, what they do, and their duties as a servicer so that you can make more informed decisions about your federal student loans.
Who is MOHELA?
And all those letters? They stand for the Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri. It’s easier to understand how that forms an acronym if you reorder the words: Missouri (MO) Higher (H) Education (E) Loan (L) Authority (A): MOHELA.
MOHELA is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, but services federal student loans for borrowers around the country. That means that even if you’re a college student in Vermont, California, Florida, or Utah, your servicer could be MOHELA. The company was founded in 1981, and received a contract to service loans made under the Direct Loan program in 2011.
What does MOHELA do?
MOHELA is not a lender; they are a federal student loan servicer. As such, they are responsible for performing a number of duties that the U.S. Department of Education requires of all servicers, including:
- Broadly managing your student loans
- Receiving and allocating your monthly student loan payments
- Handling and processing any student loan forms and paperwork
- Managing payment due dates, loan status, and other logistics
- Teaching you about your options for deferment and forbearance, as well as student loan forgiveness and discharge
- Answering any questions you may have about your student loans or repayment options
- Helping you choose and switch repayment plans
Types of Loans Serviced by MOHELA
As a federal servicer, MOHELA handles most types of federal student loans, including:
- Direct Subsidized Loans
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans
- Direct Parent PLUS Loans
- Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
- Direct Consolidation Loans
- Perkins Loans
- Stafford Loans
MOHELA was originally formed to service loans made under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), and as such still manages some of these legacy loans.
How to Contact MOHELA
Do you have a question about your student loan? Are you worried that you might not be able to make your monthly payment? Do you want to talk about your options for forgiveness? While it’s great to do research on your own, it’s also important that you realize that it’s your servicer’s job to help you successfully repay your student loans. That means that if you’re ever in any kind of doubt, you should contact your servicer immediately. No matter what, you should never just stop making payments hoping that your loan debt will go away!
MOHELA’s business hours are 7am to 9pm CT Monday through Thursday, and 7am to 5pm CT Friday. They are closed on the weekend. You can contact them in any of the ways listed below:
While you might like the convenience of communicating by email, due to security reasons, MOHELA does not accept questions about loans through email. By selecting your state of residency and the topic you would like to discuss on this page on their website, though, you may be able to engage with a representative via a secure messaging app.
633 Spirit Drive
Chesterfield, MO 63005-1243
Alternatives to MOHELA Servicing
Not a fan of your customer experience with MOHELA as a servicer? It happens. Sometimes, borrowers clash with their servicers and wonder if there isn’t some way to transfer their student loans to a different servicer. Unfortunately, this typically isn’t possible. As your lender, the U.S. Department of Education decides who your servicer is, a decision which is typically based on its contracts with MOHELA and other servicers. Requests to change servicers are most often not granted.
That being said, you do have some other options at your disposal if you’re certain that you’d like to change servicers. Namely, student loan consolidation or refinancing.
Student Loan Consolidation
If you choose to pursue student loan consolidation, you will effectively be merging multiple federal student loans together into a single new federal student loan called a Direct Consolidation Loan. As a part of this process, you will be given the opportunity to note whether you’d like to keep your new loan with your existing servicer or if you’d like a new servicer altogether. While the request cannot always be granted, it often is.
Of course, nobody should pursue consolidation without first understanding all of the factors that go into it. While it might be a way of getting you out of your bad relationship with your existing servicer, or make it a bit easier to keep track of your student loans, it can also come with some drawbacks, such as a reset clock for forgiveness, or a change in repayment options. Make sure you understand the pros and cons of consolidating your student loans before you pursue it.
Student Loan Refinancing
Aside from consolidation, you have another option in refinancing. By refinancing your federal student loans, you are essentially converting them into a private student loan offered by a private lender. Because you get to choose who your lender is, you have ultimate control over who you interact with. If customer service and user experience is an important factor that you want to consider, that is absolutely within your right.
Refinancing can also potentially help you realize lower interest rates, which makes it appealing to many borrowers. It’s important to note, though, that refinancing to a private student loan means that you’ll be giving up certain options and protections that federal student loans carry, like repayment and forgiveness options, as well as the ability to postpone payments through deferment or forbearance. If you’re considering this route, just be sure to understand the pros and cons of refinancing your student loans so that you don’t give up too much in exchange for too little.