Aspire Resources Inc. is one of the smaller federal student loan servicers and has a bit of a complicated history.
They may be your loan servicer or maybe they used to be your loan servicer. Aspire is a for-profit subsidiary of the nonprofit company Iowa Student Loan and services loans as Aspire Service Center. The company was contracted with the federal government to service loans from the Direct Loan program.
Despite what they describe as high customer satisfaction ratings as reported from their Department of Education evaluation, they could not accumulate enough accounts to warrant the cost of operating, per their 2015 statement on the matter, and ceased their Direct Loan servicing.
The Department of Education confirmed in a statement that Aspire initiated the end of the contract to service these loans. All Direct Loan accounts with Aspire were transferred to MOHELA. However, Aspire is still servicing other kinds of loans.
Top Problems With Aspire Student Loan Servicing
Despite that aforementioned high customer service rating from the Department of Education, Aspire has not been immune to complaints.
We took a look at complaints posted in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau database, on the Better Business Bureau website, and other places around the web to get an idea of possible issues with Aspire loan servicing.
If you're not quite sure where to start or what to do, consider hiring a CFA or CFP to help you with your student loans. We recommend The Student Loan Planner to help you put together a solid financial plan for your student loan debt. Check out The Student Loan Planner here.
Here are some issues that stood out:
1. Phantom Student Loan Balances
Paying off your student loans can be a thrilling experience. However, the excitement can dull when you think you’ve completely paid down your debt only to discover that somehow you still owe something.
An Aspire borrower experienced this precise situation. To be sure, the amount they still owed was quite small: they paid off their loan and then later logged into their Aspire student loans account to make sure nothing was wrong.
They found 5 dollars of unpaid interest there, somehow left over from the now-paid loan. Whatever the reason it was there, they had not been informed they still had that amount left. Had the borrower never looked, it would have sat there accumulating more interest until Aspire decided to let them know.
A similar incident occurred when one borrower paid off her loans and then reviewed her balance, surprised to find over 20 dollars still remaining. The balance sat there for several weeks accruing interest and the borrower kept getting billed for an even larger amount.
Eventually, according to Aspire’s response, the error was fixed and the account corrected. If you're concerned about your student loans affecting your credit score, read this.
2. Auto-Pay Agonies
Auto-pay can be a huge boon to both the borrower and servicer. For the borrower, auto-pay means they don’t have to remember each month to pay their loan, and it reduces the risk of being late with a payment.
Additionally, depending on the type of loan and the servicer, borrowers may get a discount on interest rates for enrolling in an auto-pay feature. For the servicer, auto-pay is as close to a guaranteed payment as they are likely to get.
But when auto-pay goes wrong, it can be frustrating to the borrower and antithetical to the reason it’s there in the first place: easy payment process.
One Aspire borrower describes in a complaint how they switched bank accounts and informed Aspire via the proper form to update their auto-pay. In the process of setting up the payments to the new bank account, that month’s payment was canceled, and the borrower was deemed to have missed a payment.
The borrower had not requested that cancelation and lost the interest rate reduction they had with Aspire at the time; the borrower felt it was unfair they were punished for a missed payment when they had not requested it.
3. Duplicate or Triplicate Payments
Getting overcharged on a payment is one thing. Getting your payment tripled is even worse. This happened to at least one Aspire borrower. And while the incident could have been a one-off error, it may have caused a lot of short-term distress for those affected. The borrower in question felt that Aspire’s handling of the situation left much to be desired.
The borrower logged into their checking account and saw that three loan payments had been taken out instead of one, sending them into overdraft. When the borrower called Aspire to resolve the issue, Aspire said they knew of the problem and were working to rectify it. When asked why they had not notified borrowers of the issue if they had known about it for several days, no answer was given.
The borrower also had to wait at least 5 days for the refund process to be completed. The borrower emphasized that they felt like the customer service reps did their jobs well, but the policy itself was outrageously burdensome on borrowers given that the error was made by Aspire.
Another borrower noted what might’ve been the same incident, except their account got charged double instead of triple. They also had to wait at least several days for the problem to be fixed, and while they reported being satisfied with the company’s response, it was distressing they had to go through it in the first place.
How to Contact Aspire Customer Service
You can reach Aspire customer service through the following:
Phone number: (800) 243-7552
Hours of operation: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CST Mon– Fri
General mailing address:
Aspire Servicing Center
P.O. Box 659705
West Des Moines, IA 50265-0970
Address for sending payments:
Aspire Servicing Center
P.O. Box 659701
West Des Moines, IA 50265-0970
Email/online contact form: Contact form
Looking For Help Beyond Aspire Loan Servicing?
Dealing with a student loan servicer whose service or policies fall short of your expectations or needs is a frustrating experience. And while your servicer may be able to solve a variety of problems, there are times when you might need want advice from an unbiased third party.
If you're not quite sure how to handle your student loans, consider hiring a CFA to help. We recommend The Student Loan Planner to help you put together a solid financial plan for your student loan debt. Check out The Student Loan Planner here.
One of the biggest issues people face with their servicers is getting into an Income-Driven Repayment plan that makes their monthly payments affordable. Your servicer may not be communicating with you well about all your options.
If you're looking to refinance your loan (maybe because you're not getting the Covid-19 forbearance), look at our list of the best lenders for student loan refinancing. This will help you get a new loan, new lender, and may even save you on interest!
If you’re a borrower with a strong credit score and income, you might want to consider refinancing your student loans. Depending on your loan balance, refinancing to a lower interest rate could save you tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loans. See our complete list of the best refinancing lenders.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.