In April 2023, the U.S. Department of Education announced contracts with five new companies to service federal student loans.
Central Research was one of the new companies to receive a student loan servicing contract.
As a student loan borrower, this means your student loans may be handled by Central Research as your student loan servicer. Let’s explore Central Research’s background and how this might impact your student loan repayment journey.
What Is Central Research Student Loan?
Central Research Inc (CRI) was founded by Scott Dillard and Johnny Dillard in 2002. Since its founding, the veteran-owned company has grown into a multi-million dollar company.
The most recent contract awarded by the Department of Education is a multi-million dollar deal. However, this is not the first time that CRI has worked with the federal government. Back in 2015, CRI was awarded a Department of Education contract to help student loan borrowers rehabilitate defaulted student loans (i.e. they helped with student loan collections).
CRI also works as a contractor for other federal agencies. But the focus of these other contracts is providing data management, IT services, call centers, and other supportive roles. With that, the recent contract with the Department of Education represents an increased amount of responsibility for CRI.
What Does It Offer?
Central Research is one of the newest student loan servicers (joining the ranks of MOHELA, NelNet, and others). But as a student loan borrower, you won’t have a choice between the various companies. Instead, you should be notified if you have a new student loan servicer by the Department of Education.
If you don’t want to wait for a notification, you can determine who your student loan servicer is by accessing the National Student Loan Data System. Central Research may already be listed as your servicer in this system.
If your student loan will be serviced by Central Research, here’s what to know about the company.
Wait For Online Access
As of writing in June 2023, Central Research doesn’t have an online platform set up for federal student loan repayments.
While there isn’t an online platform yet, it seems likely that one is in the works. By the time Central Research officially takes over your student loan repayment plan, you should have access to an online repayment option.
After all, the Department of Education indicated it made this switch to help modernize the student loan repayment experience. For now, federal borrowers will have to wait and see what Central Research’s future platform has to offer.
In contrast to some of the other companies awarded contracts by the Department of Education, Central Research has been awarded a relatively small contract amount.
Central Research’s contract amount is $24.3 million. While that represents a lot of loans, when compared to Maximus Education’s $970.4 million contract award and MOHELA’s $299.6 million award, it’s significantly smaller.
Since Central Research is new to the student loan servicing field, the smaller workload should make for a smooth transition. Of course, only time will tell how Central Research’s role as a student loan servicer will play out.
How Does Central Research Student Loan Compare?
Central Research isn’t the only company with a government contract to service student loans. MOHELA and Aidvantage have been providing this service for many years.
MOHELA, the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, has been servicing student loans for several years. Unfortunately, many borrowers have experienced repayment issues through the company, including complaints of excessive phone calls.
Aidvantage, the federal student loan processing department of Maximus Education, took over servicing federal loans after Navient was let-go from the role. Aidvantage is relatively new to the role. But the hope is that this company will be more fair to borrowers than Navient ever was.
How Do I Contact Central Research Student Loan?
You can get in touch with Central Research by calling 479-419-5456 from Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM central time. Another option is to fill out the contact form on Central Research’s website or send information via snail mail to 106 N. Bloomington Suite S Lowell, Arkansas 72745.
It’s too early to tell what the customer service experience will look like. Hopefully, the company will offer a smooth repayment journey. But it will take some time to determine what borrowers experience when working with this company.
The Bottom Line
Central Research is new to the federal student loan servicing scene. As one of the smaller players, very few student loan borrowers will end up working with this company. But the smaller workload might play to Central Research’s favor because it can focus on doing a great job instead of being overwhelmed by a massive influx of borrowers.
Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer covering banking, insurance, credit cards, mortgages and student loans. She has written for numerous finance publications, including MagnifyMoney, Business Insider and ChooseFI. Her blog, Adventurous Adulting, helps young adults get a handle on their finances.