Perhaps Aspire used to be your loan servicer or maybe it still is. Whether you have an Aspire student loan or you don’t know how to tell, this post will help you clarify any doubts about the confusing story behind this company.
Aspire Resources is a loan servicer that once had a remarkable reputation with high customer satisfaction ratings from the Department of Education. However, after CEO Steve McCullough decided to end a contract to service 200,000 federal loans in 2015, the company has been surrounded by confusion, controversy, and customer complaints.
What’s the deal with Aspire Resources, then? Why do some people see it as a company you don’t want to deal with while it still has an A-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau in the U.S.?
Don’t panic. I’ll walk you through the two sides of the coin so you can make your own judgment on this once solid and trustworthy loan servicer.
The Story Behind Aspire Resources
Aspire Resources is a for-profit subsidiary which was a side project from the non-profit organization Iowa Student Loan. Iowa Student Loan started operating back in 1971 but it wasn’t until 2001 that decided to launch Aspire Resources.
In 2012, the company received a contract to service 200,000 federal student loans from the Department of Education.
Everything went well until a couple of years later, in 2015, CEO Steve McCullough announced that they would stop servicing federal loans. According to McCullough, they did not have enough accounts to warrant the cost of operations.
In an interview, McCullough said that the number of accounts allotted to Aspire were not enough to produce the revenue to offset the cost of operations. Since then, Aspire stopped servicing federal loans and what is more, they wiped out all the data related to previous borrowers.
What Can You Do if You Got an Aspire Loan Before 2015?
Though it is true that Aspire Resources scrubbed its data from federal borrowers, they announced that they would transfer all that information to the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA). Therefore, if you have any questions about your original loan, you need to contact MOHELA directly.
Customer Complaints About Aspire Student Loans
Ending the Department of Education contract to handle 200,000 federal loans was not the end of the company. However, the company has been surrounded by controversy since then, to the point many people have even called it a scam.
But is this true? Is it possible that a once renowned company has gotten to the point where they make their customers feel scammed?
It is a bit exaggerated to tag a company this way just because it’s controversial. However, we have made some research and Aspire Resources is not famous for being free from customers’ complaints.
Now, every single lender out there has hundreds of customer complaints. But, what is it with Aspire complaints that make some of its customers lose sleep?
Well, it appears that some of the complaints are unique. That is to say, they are not the typical complaints you can see about the majority of lenders out there. We’ve collected these complaints from the consumer complaint database on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s webpage.
1. Never-Ending Student Loan Balances
One of the complaints which was quite unusual was a remaining balance after fully paying off the debt. This is what one of the users stated in the consumer complaint database.
According to the user, he found $5 that hadn’t been paid even though he had paid the debt completely. The worrying part is that Aspire Resources never informed him of this balance. 5$ might not sound like a lot, but if you don’t pay off the debt completely, it will accumulate more interest.
2. Payments That Get Duplicated or Even Triplicated
You can get the picture just by looking at the title. Imagine setting a payment which is already a considerable percentage of your salary, just to find out that Aspire has charged the same amount twice and even three times in a single month.
This is what happened to another user. He had set up the auto-pay feature just to discover the company had taken out the percentage times three, sending his checking account into negative territory.
3. Platform Issues That End up Affecting Users
There are several complaints about Aspire’s platform. However, a common one was the problems with the auto-pay feature. Users complain that the feature can be a real agony if you switch bank accounts for example. Also, duplicate and triplicate payments are an issue.
Aspire Resources Today
Even though Aspire Resources does not have the reputation it once had, that hasn’t stopped them from keeping operating. Even today, Aspire still keeps an A-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau in the United States. How is this possible?
Well, though it is true that there have been complaints that are a bit uncommon, that does not mean the company is a scam. In addition, they have come up with a solution every time customers complained about one of the problems mentioned before.
What Services Does Aspire Resources Offer Today?
After the company stopped servicing federal student loans, they decided to become a sort of B2B organization. Today, they offer services to lenders, employers, secondary markets, and postsecondary institutions.
What happens if you want to get a private student loan? Is it still possible to get one with Aspire Resources? The short answer to that is “no”, you can’t get a private loan with Aspire. Nevertheless, the company launched a site called Aspire Servicing Center in 2014, which offers customers repayment and options.
Aspire Servicing Center
Aspire Servicing Center offers customer service to students who have loans with Iowa Student Loan. Some of the features you can find on their site are:
- Options to pay your Iowa Student Loans
- Deferment and forbearance possibilities
- Military personnel loans
- Phone numbers to clarify doubts via phone
Furthermore, Aspire Resources also offers student loan repayment options. Let’s take a look at some of the plans they offer:
1. Standard Repayment Plan
The idea is that you pay the full amount in the shortest time with the lowest interest rate. In summary, 10 years or less except for consolidation plans.
2. Graduated Repayment Plan
With this plan, you will start paying lower amounts and then increased amounts every two years. This plan will make you pay more in interest over the life of the loan.
3. Extended Repayment Plan
This plan will allow you to make payments over a longer repayment term. By choosing this plan, you will have up to 25 years to pay off the debt. Nevertheless, this plan will also take a higher interest rate over the life of the loan.
4. Income-Based Repayment Plan
This is a plan designed for borrowers with loans that are quite big and repaying them with any of the previous plans will take a significant portion of their annual income.
With this plan, your payments may be as low as $0 and the maximum payment will be up to 15% of your income. In addition, if you have a remaining amount after 25 years, it will be forgiven.
If you want to know more about student loan forgiveness, take a look at this post with 13 Student Loan Forgiveness and Discharge Programs.
5. Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan
This plan sets a monthly payment based on a specific percentage of your salary. Monthly payments are between 4% and 25% of your salary.
With this plan, you will also end up paying more interest over the life of your loan. Also, your payments will never be less than the amount of interest that accrues between payments.
Other Options to Get a Private Student Loan
Though it is true that Aspire Resources is not the most popular option today, many borrowers still trust and use the servicing center every single month. However, if you don’t want to be a part of Iowa Student Loan and prefer to look for other options, why not consider one of the following?