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 student loans. There are four main types of Federal student loans: direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, Perkins loans and Parent Plus loans. The subsidized loans are only available to students with financial need. The unsubsidized loans are available to all students regardless of financial need. The Federal Perkins loan program expired on September 30, 2015. Parent Plus loans are available to parents who have dependent undergraduate students enrolled at least half-time.

What Are Great Lakes’s Interest Rates?

  • Federal student loan interest rates are set by Congress. As of May 2017, these are the rates for fixed Federal loans:
  • Direct Subsidized and Subsidized Loans for undergraduate students: 3.76%
  • Unsubsidized loans for graduate or professional students: 5.31%
  • Direct PLUS loans: 6.31%
  • Federal student loans have loan fees ranging from 1.068% to 4.276%.

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 services 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 they leave school.
  • All loans have fixed rates.

On the other hand, Great Lakes only provides Federal student loans. Although the terms of these loans are generally more flexible than private loans, the rates are higher than those offered by many prime lenders. 


  • Loan Term (Years)
    10 - 30
  • Min Loan
  • Fixed APR
    3.76% - 6.31%
  • Cosigner Optional
  • Undergraduate Students
  • Graduate Students
  • Parents of Dependent
  • Unemployment Protection
  • Funding Time
    1-2 weeks
  • Up to Cost of Attendance
  • Grace Period / Deferred Interest
  • Student Loan Type
    • Private
    • Refinance
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