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Student Loans

How to Get Free Student Loan Help

Student loans are a necessity for many who choose to pursue a college degree. But if you’ve never borrowed before, you might wonder how the loan application process works and what happens when it’s time to repay them. 

Tapping into free student loan help can make navigating the borrowing maze easier. The kind of help you need can determine which resources to take advantage of. 

Understand your loans

Before seeking free student loan help, it’s wise to know about your loans—specifically, whether you have federal or private loans because that can affect where you go for help

You can find out what type of student loans you have in several ways: 

  1. Check the type of loan listed on your promissory note (federal loans have “federal” in their name)
  2. Review your most recent loan statement to find the lender’s name or loan name
  3. Log in to the StudentAid website using your FSA ID to see which federal loans exist in your name, if any
  4. Contact your lender or loan servicer to ask

Your lender or loan servicer can be a good starting point when you need help with student loans. They’ll know the details of your loans and should be able to answer questions about a variety of issues, from applying for new loans to choosing a repayment plan. 

If you have federal loans, you can find out who your loan servicer is by logging in to the StudentAid website. Six companies now service federal student loans. For private loans, you’d contact the lender listed on your most recent statement. 

Find free student loan resources based on the help you need

Free resources are available to help with various student loan questions and concerns. 

We’ve researched the best options and included them here. You can click the issue in the table to navigate lower on the page for more information. 

I need help withResources
Student loan applicationsU.S. Department of Education

High school guidance counselor

College/university financial aid office
Servicer or lender issuesConsumer Financial Protection Bureau
Student loan repaymentYour student loan servicer

National Foundation for Credit Counseling


IBR Help
Refinancing or consolidatingU.S. Department of Education

Student loan forgivenessU.S. Department of Education


Free help for student loan applications

If you’re applying for federal student loans, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It takes about an hour to complete the FAFSA, and it’s not unusual to have questions about what information to include or when you need to submit your application. 

Private student loan lenders don’t use the FAFSA; instead, they have their own applications borrowers need to fill out. One of the most common questions with private student loans is whether you’ll need a cosigner to apply. The following resources can help with these kinds of issues. 

Federal student loan help

Federal student loans have several unique features that set them apart from private loans, including how interest rates are set and repayment plan options. If you need help with federal loans, try these options.

  • U.S. Department of Education: The StudentAid website is a hub of information for federal loan borrowers spanning everything from how to complete the FAFSA to enrolling in an income-driven repayment plan. 
  • High school guidance counselor: If you’re in high school, your guidance office should be able to answer questions about how financial aid works and how to apply for federal aid using the FAFSA. 
  • College/university financial aid office: If you’ve been admitted to college or are enrolled, the financial aid office can be a helpful resource for answering questions about federal aid eligibility, how to apply, and how aid is disbursed. 

Private student loan help

If you plan to apply for private student loans after maxing out federal aid, the best source of help is often the lender. 

Your school’s financial aid office might be able to answer general questions about private student loans, but it may not be able to tell the interest rate on a particular loan or whether a certain lender requires a cosigner. In that case, the lender is the best source of information. 

You can also try non-lender resources to find information on broader topics related to student loans. For example, check out this guide to how a private student loan works to decide whether one is right for you. 

Help with student loan servicer or lender issues

Your lender is the entity that gives you the loan. For example, the federal government is the lender for federal student loans. Private student loan lenders can include banks, credit unions, and private organizations, such as Ascent or College Ave. 

Your student loan servicer, meanwhile, is the company that receives and processes your monthly student loan payment. In the U.S., student loan servicers are under the watch of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). 

If you have a problem with your student loan lender or servicer, start by contacting customer service for help. If it doesn’t resolve the problem, you can file a complaint with the CFPB. The CFPB will contact the lender or loan servicer about the complaint and typically get a response within 15 days.

Free help with student loan debt and repayment

Your student loan repayment options can depend on whether you have federal or private loans. Certain resources available to federal student loan borrowers aren’t offered with private loans. 

If you need help managing student loan payments

Student loan payments can sometimes overwhelm even the most carefully planned budget. If you’re struggling to get a handle on student debt repayment, consider these options. 

  • Your loan servicer: Your student loan servicer should always be your first call if you need help repaying your loans. It might be able to change your repayment plan or provide temporary assistance in the event of extreme financial hardship.
  • National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC): The NFCC has a website dealing with issues related to student loan debt, and it has an extensive list of possible repayment options. The website is a helpful, free source of information. If you need more help, you can also contact a credit counselor listed on the website and pay for a consultation.
  • LendEDU’s guide to lowering student loan payments: If you want to reduce what you pay on your loans each month, check out our guide on how to lower student loan payments to find out what options you may have.
  • StudentAid website: Federal student loan borrowers may be eligible for deferment or forbearance periods when they can’t make loan payments. You can also download the forms you’ll need to apply here
  • A financial professional: A financial advisor may be able to offer student loan help, such as how to budget for loan repayment and how to juggle repaying debts with saving and investing. 

Our expert recommends

Erin Kinkade


I suggest first communicating with the lender or loan servicer—whether federal or private—about your hardship. From there, the lender should be able to provide you with options based on the type of loan. If you’re unsure which repayment plan to elect, I suggest seeing a financial counselor who specializes in student loans and consulting with a trusted friend or family member.

If you have questions about federal loan repayment options

Federal student loans offer multiple repayment options, including income-driven repayment and the possibility of student loan forgiveness. If you’re wondering what you’re eligible for, you might find these resources useful. 

  • IBR Help: This website was created as part of the Project on Student Debt, part of The Institute for College Access & Success. The goals of this nonprofit organization are to provide information to college students about income-driven repayment options and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs.
  • LendEDU’s income-driven repayment plan guide: Check out our guide on income-driven repayment plans to find out more about your plan and what options you have with repayment.
  • StudentAid website: The Department of Education offers guidance on who qualifies for student loan forgiveness, cancellation, and discharge of federal loans. You can apply for forgiveness on the website. 

Assistance with refinance or consolidation

Refinancing student loans could help you save money if you can lower your interest rate. You may also be able to lower your monthly payments. Consolidating student loans allows you to combine multiple loan payments into one. 

You have two options if you have federal and private student loans: 

  1. Refinance private student loans and consolidate federal loans. 
  2. Combine federal and private student loans into a single private loan. 


Refinancing federal and private student loans together means losing federal student loan protections. Consider whether you’re willing to lose those benefits before moving ahead with refinancing.

If you’re interested in consolidating federal loans or refinancing student loans here are two solid places to get free assistance. 

  • U.S. Department of Education: If you have federal student loans, the government has a special consolidation program just for those loans. The website provides extensive information about federal student loan consolidation and the application process.
  • LendEDU’s list of best companies to refinance and consolidate your student loans: Find the best lenders for refinancing and consolidating private or federal student loans. All these lenders provide information about loan refinancing on their websites, and you can contact them with specific questions.

>> Read more: How to consolidate student loans

Student loan forgiveness

Student loan forgiveness could help you to get out of debt without paying the full amount you owe. This option isn’t available for private student loans, but it may be possible if you have eligible federal student loans and meet certain requirements. 

If you’re curious about forgiveness for student loans, these resources can help. 

  • U.S. Department of Education: The U.S. Department of Education contains information about loan forgiveness and government loan forgiveness programs. You can learn about the eligibility requirements, which type of repayment plan you’ll need to enroll in, and how to apply for forgiveness after making the appropriate number of payments. 
  • LendEDU’s student loan forgiveness guide: Federal loan forgiveness may not be your only option if you have eligible loans or work in an approved profession. Learn more about the many student loan forgiveness programs and how to apply for help. 

Organizations that offer free or cheap student loan help

Several organizations offer free or cheap student loan help to borrowers. Here’s a quick rundown. Click the link name of the organization to see how to get in touch if you have questions about federal or private student loans and loan repayment. 

OrganizationHelps withCost
Federal Student Aid Help CenterFederal loan education and applicationsFree
Office of the Ombudsman FSAProblems with federal loans that have not been solved by your loan servicerFree
American Student AssistanceStudent loan counselingFree
The Institute of Student Loan AdvisorsStudent loan advice, dispute resolutionFree
Student Loans – National Association of Consumer AdvocatesStudent borrower rightsFree
National Foundation for Credit CounselingStudent loan repayment and credit counselingFree
Student Borrower Protection CenterUpdates on student loan protections and news, including student loan scamsFree

Additional resources: