How to work with the nation’s largest servicer — and what to watch out for.
If you have a student loan, chances are good that Navient is your servicer. Formerly part of student loan company Sallie Mae, Navient handles repayments for more than 12 million federal and private student loans. But big isn’t always better: Several states and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have filed lawsuits against the company for mishandling repayments and misleading customers.
How do repayments work with Navient?
Navient allows borrowers to repay loans online, over the phone and by mail. You can also sign up for automatic repayments, which might qualify you for a 0.25% interest rate discount. However, you’ll need to log in to your online account for detailed directions on how to make repayments.
If you’re planning on paying online or over the phone, have your bank account information on hand — you’ll likely need both your account and routing number.
Can I pay off my loans early?
Yes. If you do, you might want to indicate how you’d like your repayments applied. Otherwise, Navient applies additional repayments to your unpaid interest or fees before it goes toward the principal, which can save you less money in the long run.
If you have multiple loans, payments will first apply to the loan with the highest interest rate before going toward other loans unless you provide specific instructions otherwise.
If you make an extra payment online or over the phone, you have the option to specify how much you’d like to pay toward each loan. If you apply by mail, Navient requires a separate letter detailing the loans you’d like your repayment to go toward.
Want to save your directions for extra payments in the future? Log in to your online account and select Overpayment Directions. There, you can set your preferences for advanced repayments Navient receives.
How to contact customer service
Navient offers separate customer service lines for different types of borrowers. Generally, you can phone, fax, mail or log in to your account to get support. If you choose mail, include your account number in your letter.
Navient’s customer service line is open:
- Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET
- Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
How to refinance my Navient student loans
Refinancing your Navient student loans involves taking out a new loan to pay off your current student debt load, ideally one with a more competitive rate or term. It’s the only way to change your servicer if you have private student loans, and it’s also an option for federal loans.
However, federal loan holders might want to consider a Direct Consolidation Loan first. It allows you to switch servicers while keeping the perks that come with federal loans, like flexible repayment plans, multiple deferment and forbearance options and public service forgiveness.
Watch who you refinance with. Companies like Earnest and Brazos use Navient as their servicer.
Compare student loan refinancing options
How to avoid common problems with Navient
Navient customers haven’t had it easy. As of January 2019, the company has earned more than 13,000 complaints through the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau alone — enough for the government to file a lawsuit against the company in 2017.
And while it earns an A- from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) based on factors like time in business and transparency, it earns a low 1-star customer rating based on nearly 140 reviews.
Keep an eye out for two top issues borrowers have run into when working with Navient.
Trouble processing repayments
A main complaint of borrowers with Navient is that it sometimes mismanages repayments. Some customers say they had trouble enrolling in autopay, while others were told they owed money they’d already paid.
- How to avoid it: Make it a habit to check your balance and bank statements to make sure repayments go through. Regularly check your credit report to make sure Navient hasn’t reported on-time repayments as late. And reach out to customer service or consider refinancing if you notice anything wrong.
Trouble adjusting repayments
Many borrowers also report problems registering for a new repayment plan or applying for deferment or forbearance. Some say they were put on the wrong repayment plan, while others were told they weren’t eligible for programs they could have benefited from.
- How to avoid it: Review your repayment options from an outside source before speaking with Navient. If you’re told you don’t qualify for a program you believe you’re eligible for, reach out to customer service. Otherwise, consider refinancing or consolidating your loans to work with another company.
Lawsuits against Navient
The CFPB and several states, including California and Illinois, have filed lawsuits against Navient over the past few years. The lawsuits accuse the company of:
- Providing incorrect information to borrowers about their repayment options.
- Directing borrowers toward more expensive repayment plans.
- Making it difficult to enroll in income-based repayment plans.
- Falsely reporting discharged loans as delinquent to credit bureaus.
- Giving false information about cosigner release options.
A 2017 Department of Education audit found that the company had steered borrowers toward high-cost repayment plans. A Government Accountability Office study in the same year estimated that the average borrower paid an extra $6,742 in interest as a result.
What to expect from other student loan services
|Granite State Management|
Facing multiple lawsuits, this student loan giant has a reputation for being difficult to work with. It might be worth refinancing or consolidating your loans to get a new servicer if you’re looking to switch your repayment plan or pay off your loan early.
Learn more about how to fund your education in our comprehensive guide to student loans.