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What to expect with Nelnet student loan servicing
How to make repayments and avoid common problems.
Need A Student Loan?
You Graduated. Now What?
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.
What's in this guide?
- How repayment works with Nelnet
- Can I pay off my loans early?
- How to contact customer service
- How to refinance my Nelnet student loans
- Compare student loan refinancing options
- How to avoid common problems with Nelnet
- What to expect with other student loan servicers
- Bottom line
- Frequently asked questions
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.
Sign up for auto debit
Signing up for auto debit allows Nelnet to automatically deduct your monthly repayment from your bank account. It’s the simplest way to pay off your loans, and you might qualify for a 0.25% interest rate reduction.
You can sign up for auto debit by logging into your online account.
Make an online payment
You can also log into your online account to make a one-time repayment and check on the status of your loan. This option is a little more flexible then auto debit — you don’t always have to pay on the same date. But you won’t qualify for the interest rate discount.
You can also use the online payment option to authorize others to make a repayment on your loan.
Pay using the mobile app
Prefer working with your phone? Nelnet has a mobile app you can download in the iTunes App Store or on Google Play. Log into the app to make repayments and manage your account on the go.
Send a repayment by mail
If you’d rather send a check or money order, Nelnet accepts repayments by mail. Be sure to include the account number on your check.
Mail it to one of the following addresses, depending on the letter your account number starts with:
Accounts starting with E
Department of Education
PO Box 740283
Atlanta, GA 30374-0283
Accounts starting with D
PO Box 2970
Omaha, NE 68103-2970
Accounts starting with J
PO Box 2877
Omaha, NE 68103-2877
Use an online bill pay service
Pay your bills through your bank or a budgeting app? You can also use that bill pay service to make your student loan repayments. You’ll need to provide your account number and the payment address written on the bottom of your statement when registering your payments to Nelnet.
Pay over the phone
You can make a repayment over the phone at any time by calling 888-486-4722.
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:
You can email Nelnet by filling out a form on its website or sending an email to email@example.com. You’ll need to submit your account number and Social Security number if you fill out the form.
Over the phone
- Toll-free number: 888-486-4722
- International number: 303-696-3625
While you can make repayments at any time of day, Nelnet’s call center is only open during the following hours:
- Monday through Friday: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. ET
- Saturday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET
Nelnet has different mailing addresses for different purposes.
General questions and concerns:
PO Box 82561
Lincoln, NE 68501-2561
Documents related to deferment, forbearance, repayment plans or changing your enrollment status:
Attn: Enrollment Processing
PO Box 82565
Lincoln, NE 68501-2565
Documents related to discharging your loan, forgiveness or bankruptcy:
PO Box 82505
Lincoln, NE 68501-2505
If you don’t want to mail your documents, you can also upload them online by logging into your account.
You can fax general correspondence and requests to 877-402-5816.
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
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
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.
How do I submit a complaint against Nelnet?
Unlike some student loan servicers, Nelnet doesn’t have its own ombudsman you can contact when issues arise. Instead, you’ll need to file a complaint with either the Department of Education or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Find out how with our guide to student loan ombudsmen.
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 refinancing your loans to switch to another servicer.
Frequently asked questions
For more information about commonly asked questions, read on.
How do I apply for deferment or forbearance with Nelnet?
Applying for deferment or forbearance involves completing and submitting a form to Nelnet. Which form you need to complete depends on the type of deferment or forbearance you’re applying for. You can find the forms by logging into your Nelnet account and clicking Postpone My Payments (Deferment/Forbearance) in the left navigation bar.
How do I change my repayment plan with Nelnet?
Changing your repayment plan also involves completing and submitting a form to Nelnet. Some programs — like income-driven repayment plans — might also require you to submit documents, which you can either upload to your account or send by mail or fax.
You can find the forms by logging into your Nelnet account and clicking Lower My Payments in the left navigation bar.
What happens if I sign up for auto debit and my repayment bounces?
If your auto debit repayment doesn’t go through, you may be charged a returned payment fee. If you don’t make the repayment within 15 days, Nelnet charges a late fee of up to $0.06 for each dollar that’s late. Miss three repayments through auto debit and you’re automatically dis-enrolled from the program.
I heard Nelnet purchased student loan servicer Great Lakes. Will this affect my student loans?
No, your student loans won’t be affected. While Nelnet purchased student loan servicer Great Lakes in February 2018, the two companies continue to operate under their respective names and brands. This means you should continue to make repayments to your servicer like you have been.
Anna Serio is a trusted lending expert and certified Commercial Loan Officer who's published more than 1,000 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Business Insider, CNBC and the Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
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