Great Lakes is one of the largest federal student loan servicers and guarantors in the United States. It is a non-profit company that also offers financial education about student loans and gives education-related grants. Great Lakes works with students and their parents throughout the country. Over the years, Great Lakes has guaranteed over $51 billion in Federal student loans and has worked with over 6,000 schools and 1,000 lenders.

The company was founded in 1988 and is based in Madison, Wisconsin. It is a certified Gold BBB member with an A+ rating.

How Do Great Lakes’s Student Loans Work?

Great Lakes services federal and private student loans. There are four main types of federal student loans: Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans and Federal Perkins Loans. Subsidized loans are only available to students with financial need. Unsubsidized loans are available to all students regardless of financial need. PLUS loans are available to graduate students or parents who have dependent undergraduate students enrolled at least half-time. Perkins loans are part of a school-based program in which the school becomes the actual lender. 

What Are Great Lakes’s Rates?

Federal student loans have fixed interest rates set by the United States Congress plus additional fees, which means federal student loan rates can range from around 4.45% APR to 11% APR.

Federal consolidation loans have a fixed interest rate, which is the weighted average of the interest rates on the loans being consolidated (rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent), plus additional fees. Consequently, the fixed APR can range from around 3.5% APR to 10.875% APR.

How Much Money Can I Borrow from Great Lakes?

Loan amounts vary depending on the cost of attendance of the school attended. Typically these range from $5,500 to cost of attendance. Loan terms range from 10 to 30 years depending on the loan amount and loan type.

Which States Does Great Lakes Operate In?

Federal student loans operate in all 50 states.

What Is Great Lakes’s Application Process Like?

Students and their parents can apply online. The first step is to gather the information you will need. This includes personal information, the loan amount you need, and the terms you are looking for. The second step is to apply for a Federal student loan; choose your servicer, and make regular loan payments. This will help you increase your credit in the future if payments are on time and regular.

How Is Great Lakes Better than Other Lenders?

  • Great Lakes is one of the largest and most experienced federal student loan servicers and guarantors around.
  • It has been in business since 1988 and is a gold accredited business by the BBB with an A+ rating.
  • Provides free education on student loans and refinances, and also gives out education grants.
  • Provides loans for students, graduates, parents of students and refinances loans.
  • Government pays the interest on loans until students leave school.
  • All loans have fixed rates.


  • Loan Term (Years)
    10 - 30
  • Min Loan
  • Fixed APR (Refinancing)
    3.5% - 10.875%
  • Cosigner Optional
  • Undergraduate Students
  • Graduate Students
  • Parents of Dependent
  • Grace Period / Deferred Interest
  • Student Loan Type
    • Federal
    • Private
    • Refinance
  • Unemployment Protection
  • Funding Time
    1-2 weeks
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