Are you in search of the best loan options to fund your college education? If so, it is likely that you have come across the company ACS and their selection of plan structures. A subsidiary of Xerox, ACS offers federal loans to students across a host of disciplines. It serves as an intermediary between the borrower and the lender. Regardless of whether you are familiar with this loan servicer, we have a compiled a list of 10 key elements you need to know before signing any ACS student loans.
Who Is ACS and What Is an ACS Student Loan?
ACS student loans are offered by the company Affiliated Computer Services, now known as Conduent. In 2010, the company merged with Xerox. ACS is not a lending institution per se, but rather a loan servicer. This means that ACS student loans are obtained through the Federal Government or lending institutions who work with it. Simply stated, ACS works as a mediator between the lending institution and the borrower.
Types of Loan Plans and What They Cover
ACS manages everything from loan payments and customer service to credit reporting, default funding maneuvers and loan forgiveness. It also helps with loan billing and payment plans. ACS offers multiple options for loan forgiveness. You can choose an income-driven loan forgiveness plan that allows you to shape your payments around a percentage of your monthly income. The payment duration is approximately 20—25 years. The lender forgives any outstanding payments at the end of this period.
If you choose the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, your loan is forgiven but only after issuing payments for 10-years. To qualify, you must work full-time in a public service or non-profit setting. You also may be eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program if you have taught full-time for 5 consecutive years. However, you must be a teacher in either an elementary, secondary or educational service setting that helps financially struggling families. The total loan forgiveness amount caps at $17,500.
There are also loan forgiveness options for student loan cancellations. These may occur because of school closures or falsified documents.
One final type of loan forgiveness program is that of Total and Permanent Disability. This applies to three specific loans:
- William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan
- Federal Perkins Loan
- Federal Family Education Loan
To obtain this type of loan forgiveness, you must provide the Department of Education with palpable proof that you are completely disabled.
In addition, ACS does not charge you any fees to use their services.
Is There a Need for ACS Student Loans?
One distinct advantage of ACS student loans is that you can combine many loans at once for optimal educational funding. It is not uncommon for students to have multiple loans when in college, but if they take them out from different sources the payments and interest rates are different.
With ACS student loans, the bundling approach allows you to take out multiple loans simultaneously with a singular payment to cover them all every month. ACS student loans also offer you the chance to secure your rate of interest, which will be significantly lower than the cost of your loan repayment. Whether or not you take out multiple loans, ACS student loans still offer plenty of options to determine the best interest rates and loan payments for your financial situation. Your monthly payments depend on the sum of the money you borrow, but higher amounts come with longer periods in which to repay them. You also have the option to apply for deferments or forbearance due to job loss or economic circumstances for certain types of loans.
An ACS student loan gives borrowers the ability to bundle their money. However, it may reap less positive results depending upon your situation. One of the potential disadvantages of this system is that your projected payment period will be far longer. This can cause you to pay out an increased rate of interest.
Unfortunately, you cannot bundle every type of loan. For instance, you are not allowed to merge federal loans and private loans. There are specific loans available for combination, so if you wish to bundle your options you must stay within these guidelines. Currently, you can bundle the following types of loans:
- FFELP Loans
- Federal Direct Loans
- Federal Perkins Loans
- Health Profession Loans
- Nursing Loans
Easy Account Access
ACS student loans make the process of paying your bills and monitoring your account easier than other loan services or providers. Some advantages include:
- Online access, electronic billing
- Automatic draft withdrawals
- Payment notifications, other account details
This can clear up confusion and ease stress that comes with a less user-friendly system.
How to Use an ACS Student Loan
As far as eligibility requirements, there is no set standard that qualifies an individual for application. Rather, your eligibility depends on the specific loan or loans for which you are looking to apply. For example, if you plan to apply for federal loans, you usually need to have proof of enrollment in a particular accredited college. You also need a minimum acceptable GPA and certain income earnings. Some universities have specific guidelines as to the types of loans they will accept as well.
Furthermore, your eligibility for certain types of loans also depends upon factors such as your credit score. The best way to know whether you can apply for a certain loan is to read the loan requirements prior to enrollment.
The Application Process
Once you have read about the loan(s) for which you wish to apply and have determined your eligibility, it is time to submit your application. In regards to a federal loan, you must fill out FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
ACS provides answers to any questions you may have while maneuvering the application process. You must register and create an account on the ACS website in order to proceed with any loan. The ACS customer service team is a great resource to guide you through these procedures. If you have already graduated from college, you can still access your loans to see if the ACS student loans program can work to bundle them together.
While there are many benefits associated with using the ACS student loans program, they have had their fair share of scrutiny and criticism throughout the years. A number of consumers have been unhappy with the management of their loans, which caused the Department of Education to cut off their association with ACS.
Some consumers have stated that they have not been given accurate information regarding payment plans and have been left without recourse to change to a different set of options. A 2016 Massachusetts lawsuit against the ACS student loans program regarding these complaints reached a 2.4 million dollar settlement.
If you apply for federal loans directly, you are assigned a servicer with no say in the matter. In many cases, this could be ACS. This is not something for which you have control. While there several advantages to ACS’s program, it is important to know that there have been some significant complaints.
If you are working with the ACS student loans program and are having concerns or issues with your repayment options, contact them at once and speak directly with the customer service team. They are there to help you stay on top of your loans and not fall behind in payments.
Some circumstances that would warrant your contacting ACS directly would be in the case of bill problems, new contact information, the possibility of defaulting on a payment, or payment plan alterations. Be sure to visit the ACS student loans website for the phone numbers and contact information specific to your loan type.
If you experience ongoing difficulties with the ACS student loans program and want to switch to a different service, you have a few choices. For instance, if you have federal loans, you may bundle all of those loans and choose a different loan service provider. Make sure you conduct plenty of research on the provider before making a switch.
You may also opt to refinance if you have a combination of federal and private loans. Refinancing would entail working with a private lender who bundles the loans and provides an interest rate based on your credit score. Your payments then merge into a singular monthly amount.
If you would like a service that offers easy access to your account, excellent bundling options, and impressive customer care, ACS might be a good selection. If you are assigned ACS through your federal loan program, you can still enjoy these benefits. Simply be aware of the issues some consumers have experienced. If you experience similar difficulties, contact ACS’s customer service department at once to work towards a resolution.
If all else fails, you have options to switch to another servicer or to a private lender of your choosing. With that being said, the ACS student loans program still offers some weighty benefits to anyone in search of a servicer offering comprehensive options for loan management.