Student loans, Student Loans 101

Whenever the topic of student loans is mentioned, lenders and servicers will come up. Without proper education, it’s easy to get confused about what lenders and servicers are and how you should engage with each. If that’s you, don’t worry! You’re not alone. Our recent survey showed nearly half of student loan borrowers don’t know who their loan servicer is.

Here’s a quick primer on the roles of servicers and lenders and what they mean to you.


Loan servicers do not originate student loans or set the terms for them. They are, however, responsible for the management and repayment of student loans. If you have multiple loans, you may have more than one servicer.

Contact your servicer if you have questions about your student loans, want to change your repayment plan, or have trouble making a payment. Your servicer will also make contact with you on a regular basis. You probably already get communication from your servicer about accrued interest on your loans or repayment planning.

You don’t get to choose who your servicer is. A servicer is assigned to you when the money from the lender is disbursed. Unlike the lender, your servicer can change. Your servicer probably will change at least once during your repayment period.

Even though your student loan servicer is responsible for collecting payments, it is your ally. Servicers want you to successfully pay back your student loans and stay out of default. Work with them to set up a repayment plan that works for you.

If you don’t know who your servicer is, use your iontuition™ account or call one of our loan counselors. They’ll be able to connect you to your servicer if you have questions or need to make new arrangements on your student loan.


The lender lends the money for student loans. With many federal student loans, the federal government is the lender. When you receive a student loan, the government disburses the money. With private student  loans, the lender is a bank or some other financial institution.

You have a choice in what lender you use. Although colleges may have lenders they prefer to work with, the final decision is yours. The school is required to certify all student loans, no matter who the lender is. Do your research prior to choosing a lender. Federal loans typically have lower interest rates than private loans and you will have more flexible repayment options after you graduate.

Unlike your servicer, you may never communicate with your lender. In many cases, your school’s financial aid office is the intermediary between lenders and borrowers.

Student loans can be confusing. Just remember, lenders lend the money, servicers do customer service. Your iontuition account makes it easy to see who services your loans, set up student loan payment reminders, and keep up to date on other important details of your loan.

Tom Wray

Tom Wray is all about the research, getting it right, and making it relevant. He’s got solid journalistic experience in all forms of content delivery – and he’s got his keyboard humming with what’s up and important for students, college admins, parents, employers and news junkies.