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
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.
5 Nelnet features you should know about
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.
Nelnet student loans: bottom line
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.