Nelnet is one of the biggest names in the student loan industry, especially since 2018 when it acquired another major loan servicer, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services. The combined company now reportedly handles federal loans for about 5 million people, or 1.5% of the entire U.S. population.
If you’ve found that Nelnet is also your federal student loan servicer, then it’s worth taking a moment to learn about some of the options you have as you tackle repayment. Read on for the full rundown.
- Nelnet student loans: The basics
- 5 Nelnet features you should know about
- Nelnet FAQs
- Nelnet student loans: bottom line
If you’re just beginning to navigate the student loan industry or trying to get a handle on your debt, it’s helpful to understand how that debt is managed. Student loan borrowers collectively owe more than $1.5 trillion in student debt, and the Department of Education works with nine financial companies to service that debt. Nelnet is one of those firms.
As a loan servicer, Nelnet administers the debt by processing payments, generating statements and communicating with borrowers. Nelnet provides these services on behalf of third-party lenders, and it also extends (or “owns”) some student debt itself, as some lenders have sold their student loans to Nelnet.
If Nelnet is your loan servicer, you might already be aware that you can view and manage your account on Nelnet’s website and mobile app. You can also, of course, communicate with the company via phone, online chat and email.
But here are five other things you might not know you can do with your Nelnet student loans.
1. Pay by group
One nice feature about Nelnet is that it’s easy to pay your loans by group. For example, you can opt to pay off your highest-interest loans first if you’re pursuing the debt avalanche strategy for repayment.
If you’ve had trouble figuring out how your payments are distributed, you’ll be happy to find that the process is relatively easy with Nelnet.
If you want to pay extra on a specific group of loans:
- Go to the “Home” page and select the “Make a Payment” tab.
- Then go to “Pay Now,” and under “Select Payment Option,” choose “Pay By Group.”
- Click on the left-handed arrow to expand the box in order to display all of your loans.
You can then sort your loans by interest rate, balance or due date. On the right-hand side, you can divvy up your payments and start putting more toward certain loans, based on your payoff strategy. (Though don’t forget to pay at least the minimum on all your loans.)
2. Autopay or text alerts to avoid late payments
Do you find it difficult to remember when your loan payments are due? One way to ensure you always make on-time payments is by signing up for autopay. Not only will this keep you on track, but — just like with many other servicers and lenders — using autopay could lower your interest rate by 0.25%.
If you’re not comfortable with set-it-and-forget-it automatic payments, however, Nelnet offers text message reminders of when payments are due.. You can also get alerts when your loan payment is past due, when you have a new statement ready for viewing or if your loan status has changed.
To sign up for this, go to “My Info and Preferences” and then find “Text Alerts” on the far right corner. Input your information and save the changes. You will need to confirm via text message that you did sign up for this service.
Nelnet offers a range of convenient ways to access your information and pay your bills, including their mobile app, online bill pay and via phone — though you can still send in payments by mail if you prefer.
3. Get help becoming ‘financially fit’
Not only can you manage your student loan payments on Nelnet’s website, but you can also learn a bit about personal finance.
On the Nelnet homepage, there’s a Get Financially Fit section where you can learn about building and maintaining credit, avoiding identity theft and the basics of personal finance and budgeting.
If you need assistance or have questions, you can contact Nelnet account specialists via online chat, by phone at 1-888-486-4722 or email. Nelnet’s Facebook and Twitter pages also have helpful tips for managing both your student loans and improving your financial health.
4. Apply for deferment or forbearance
If you’re having trouble making payments on your federal student loans, you can apply for deferment or forbearance through the Nelnet site. These options allow you to postpone your loan repayment for certain situations, ranging from job loss and other hardships to going back to school or serving in the military.
The eligibility requirements and terms vary, but deferment options may include unemployment deferment, working mother deferment, parental leave deferment and domestic volunteer deferment. Note, however, that your loans will continue to accrue interest, even as you pause repayment.
To find out if you qualify for deferment or forbearance, you can get started by logging into your account and clicking “Postpone My Payment” to apply. You can also call Nelnet at 1-888-486-4722 for more information..
5. Print your tax info
A common mistake people make is not deducting student loan interest on their taxes. You can deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest on your taxes each year that you are repaying your student loans.
But where do you even get that paperwork? Using Nelnet, you can find the information in your “Message Center” under “Print My Tax Info.”
You can then print out IRS form 1098-E, which shows how much you paid in student loan interest. If you paid more than $2,500, however, you can still only deduct up to $2,500.
Finally, here are some frequently asked questions about Nelnet and its loan-servicing operations.
Is Nelnet good for student loans?
As one of the largest student loan servicers in the industry, Nelnet definitely gets its share of complaints registered with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. And like many other servicers, Nelnet has also been the subject of borrower lawsuits, including loan forgiveness.
That said, however, Nelnet enjoys a better reputation than some rival servicers.
And while we’re on the subject, note that the servicers aren’t the only source of trouble for borrowers — student loan scams are a constant danger for anyone with school debt. Be wary about anything that sounds too good to be true, and if you receive a suspicious offer, file a complaint online or by calling 1-855- 411-2372. You can also contact the office of your state’s attorney general.
Can Nelnet student loans be forgiven?
As a loan servicer, Nelnet administers loans of lenders, and therefore it isn’t able to forgive your loans. However, under government guidelines, some borrowers may qualify for federal student loan forgiveness, such as working for the government or a nonprofit. Check out some of your forgiveness options here.
Does Nelnet consolidate student loans?
The Department of Education allows borrowers to consolidate multiple federal student loans into one loan via the direct consolidation loan program and choose their servicer. Nelnet doesn’t consolidate your loans per se, but it is one of the eligible servicers that can administer your newly consolidated loan.
Is Nelnet a direct student loan program?
As described above, Nelnet offers several different types of service: It loans money directly to students and acts as the servicer for those accounts, services some federal loans from the Department of Education and it also provides customer services for third-party lenders. In some instances, lenders have sold their outstanding loans to Nelnet, and in which case the company both owns and services those accounts.
As you work to manage your finances and juggle your student loan payments, it’s helpful to have a strong student loan servicer in your corner. Nelnet offers the latest in online, mobile, text and phone customer service to support its borrowers; its website offers resources and information to better manage debt and improve your personal finances.
At the same time, the complaints referenced in this article show that Nelnet, like other servicers, isn’t perfect, so be sure to speak up if you think they’ve dropped the ball.
Alli Romano contributed to this report.
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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of October 1, 2020.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 7/31/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
5 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 10/15/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.98% APR to 8.55% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.99% APR to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.