What Is MOHELA?
You may get to know this acronym all too well.
What in the world are MOHELA student loans? You might be asking this if you’re receiving emails or letters from a company called MOHELA that seems to know all about your college financing, even though you’ve never heard of it.
Despite having a name that sounds like it has nothing to do with student loans, MOHELA is a legitimate student loan servicer. If it’s your student loan servicer, here’s what you need to know.
What Is MOHELA?
MOHELA stands for Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, and it’s the name of a Missouri-based company that manages the billing and payments on many federal student loans. It’s one of nine companies that are official student loan servicers for the federal government, contracting with the U.S. Department of Education to manage the loans after they’re made.
MOHELA is one of the better student loan servicers, at least by the Education Department’s standards. The department tracks loan servicers’ customer satisfaction scores and monitors how well they keep borrowers out of default, awarding them new accounts accordingly. Of the nine servicers, MOHELA had some of the highest percentages of borrowers current on their loans and some of the lowest rates of delinquency as of June 2018.
Because the Education Department’s contracts reward higher-performing servicers, MOHELA is getting more new business. For most of the 2016-2017 school year, for example, 16% of new federal student loan volume was being allocated to MOHELA. By the 2018-2019 school year, that number had risen to 20%, the most assigned to any single servicer.
How You End Up With MOHELA
You may be wondering how your student loan(s) got assigned to MOHELA. Here’s when the servicer comes in:
- A student or parent applies for a federal student loan.
- If the loan is approved, the Education Department provides the money to the school’s student aid office.
- Once funds are disbursed and received, the Education Department hands the account off by assigning it to MOHELA or one of its other student loan servicers. You don’t get to choose your loan servicer.
MOHELA Is Legit, But Watch Out for Scams
While MOHELA is authentic, it’s wise to double-check any student loan information you receive to protect yourself from scams that target struggling borrowers. Many companies claim to provide debt relief for student loans or promise to lower payments or forgive loans. They may charge high fees to do things the borrower can do for free, such as apply for a different repayment plan.
The Federal Trade Commission warns you to watch out for names or seals that mimic government agencies. You should also beware of companies that ask for your Federal Student Aid ID or use high-pressure tactics.
If there’s any doubt who your servicer is, the first place to check is your email inbox or records. Student loan servicers must notify you that they’ve received your loan. You can also use your FSA ID to log into the National Student Loan Data System at NSLDS.ed.gov. It should list your debt details, including your student loan balances and the servicer that is assigned to each one.
In some cases, the Education Department needs to transfer your loan to another servicer. This can be confusing. You have one servicer and suddenly, for seemingly no reason, you have a different one. If your loans are transferred to MOHELA or another servicer, they are required to send you a welcome letter with contact info and steps you may need to take. The terms of your loan will not change.
How You’ll Work With MOHELA
With a fifth of new federal student loans assigned to MOHELA for servicing, many borrowers will end up dealing with the company. Loan servicers manage everything from the first disbursement to the final payment, so you may be a MOHELA customer for many years.
While you’re in school, you’re not required to make payments on your loan, but you should keep abreast of your account balances and interest accruals and update any changes in your contact information or enrollment status. Your servicer must tell you when your repayment period begins.
Once you’ve started repaying, MOHELA can help you:
- Enroll in automatic debit or change payment due dates
- Lower, postpone or make extra payments
- It offers advice on and helps you apply for federal student loan forgiveness, consolidation, or alternate repayment plans
It’s important to stay in contact with your loan servicer, especially if your circumstances change and you are having trouble making payments.
Here's how to contact MOHELA:
- Create an online account at www.mohela.com.
- Call 888-866-4352 7 am to 9 pm U.S. Central Time Monday through Thursday and 7 am to 5 pm Central Time Friday.
- Fax 866-222-7060 to submit documents or send requests.
- Send mail to MOHELA, 633 Spirit Drive, Chesterfield, MO 63005-1243.