Student loans confuse a lot of people.
On the surface, they're relatively simple: tuition costs X, food and rent costs Y, so the office of financial aid "awards" you X + Y. After graduation, you get pre-formatted letters showing how much of that total comes due every month.
Still, in a relationship that lasts longer than many marriages, it's probably worth scratching below the surface a little bit. Students take out multiple tiers of loans at several different interest rates, some public and some private, some through the government and some not… the entire system has grown remarkably Byzantine.
One of the keys to understanding all of it is knowing about student loan servicers. These are the back-end systems through which loans run, and they're not just an arbitrary banking quirk. Student loan servicers have a lot to do with interest rates, deadlines and consumer protection.
You may not have much of a choice in who services your loan, but it's important to know a little more about servicers.
What is a loan servicer?
"We're the Uber of private student loans," said Mike VanErdewyk., CEO of ReliaMax, a private student loan solutions provider. "What I mean by that is that, in a similar way that Uber connects people who need rides with people that can provide rides, we connect people that need loans with people that can provide loans. We connect borrowers with lenders."
As he explains it, the role of his company is to act as the intermediary between financial institutions who provide loans and the borrowers themselves.