How to make repayments and avoid common problems.
This Nebraska-based student loan servicer handles both federal and private student loans. While it’s easy to find basic information on its website, customers have run into more than a few problems with Nelnet — especially when it comes to applying for an income-driven repayment plan.
How repayment works with Nelnet
Nelnet offers several different ways for you to make repayments on your student loans, from signing up for auto debit to sending a check in the mail. If you’re paying online or over the phone for the first time, have your bank account and routing numbers handy.
Can I pay off my loans early?
Yes, you can pay off your loans early through Nelnet. Extra repayments automatically go toward the loan or loan group with the highest interest rates. However, you can provide special instructions on how you’d like your extra payments to be applied by calling, emailing or mailing a letter to the Nelnet customer service team.
Want to make recurring extra repayments? Fill out the coupon attached to your statement and send it in with your extra repayment.
How to contact customer service
Nelnet has a handful of ways for you to reach out to customer service or submit documents:
How to refinance my Nelnet student loans
Refinancing your Nelnet student loans involves taking out another loan with a different lender to pay off your balance. It’s the only way to change your servicer if you have private student loans — and may also help you score more competitive rates or terms.
But you might want to think twice about refinancing your federal loans. Private refinancing companies don’t offer the same benefits that federal loans already have, such as income-driven repayment plans, multiple deferment and forbearance options and eligibility for some student loan forgiveness programs. Instead, consider applying for a federal Direct Consolidation Loan, which allows you to switch up your servicer while keeping your federal loan perks.
Be careful who you refinance with — some companies like U-fi and Brazos also use Nelnet as a servicer.
Compare student loan refinancing options
How to avoid common problems with Nelnet
Borrowers repaying their student loans through Nelnet have run into their share of problems. Over 2,600 people have filed a complaint against the servicer with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as of January 2019.
It doesn’t fare much better on the Better Business Bureau (BBB), earning a B rating based on more than 500 complaints filed against the company. It only scores an average 1 out of 5 stars based on 55 customer reviews — the majority of which are negative.
Here are the two biggest gripes borrowers have about working with Nelnet:
Trouble making early repayments
Several customers had problems with how Nelnet handled early repayments on their loans — especially those regularly paying a higher amount than required through auto debit. Some claimed that Nelnet made payments to the lowest-interest loans first. And others said Nelnet applied extra payments to interest — even when they specified the payment should go toward the principal balance.
- How to avoid it: Make sure you’re clearly following Nelnet’s instructions on making extra repayments. It might help to reach out to customer service if you aren’t sure. After you’ve made the extra repayment, check your account to see if it was properly applied. If not, reach out to customer service or file a complaint against the company with the CFPB or BBB.
Receiving inaccurate information about loans
Many customers have also filed complaints about Nelnet providing them with inaccurate information about their loans. Some were given incorrect monthly repayment amounts, while others were led to believe they’d be put into an income-driven repayment program after going into deferment or forbearance — only to find they weren’t. Because of these issues, many borrowers ended up with either a higher loan amount or unaffordable high monthly repayments.
- How to avoid it: Make it a habit to keep tabs on your Nelnet statements. If you’re applying for an income-driven repayment plan, do some independent research on what your options are while your application is being processed and reach out to customer service as soon as possible if you notice a delay. Still having trouble getting affordable repayments? Consider refinancing with a lender that uses another servicer.
The class-action lawsuit against Nelnet
Borrowers filed a class-action lawsuit against Nelnet in June 2018 for allegedly canceling their income-driven repayment plans before they were set to expire. They argue that the early cancellation increased their monthly repayments and delayed their ability to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), which requires borrowers to make 120 repayments on an income-driven repayment plan while working in public service.
The lawsuit also accuses Nelnet of pushing borrowers to go into forbearance. With federal loans, interest accumulates during forbearance and gets added to the loan balance — causing borrowers to pay more in interest.
What to expect with other student loan servicers
With a mobile app and easy-to-navigate website, Nelnet is a user-friendly servicer — just as long as you don’t want to make any changes to your repayment plan. But the class-action lawsuit against it and its relatively high volume of complaints might make you want to consider switching to another servicer.
Learn more about how student loans work by reading our comprehensive guide.