Navient Student Loans Review
With over 12 million borrowers served, Navient is one of the largest student loan servicers around.
Navient has been in the news in recent years due to several lawsuits against the student loan giant. What student loan options are available for Navient borrowers?
Let’s take a closer look at this loan servicer to get the scoop.
What is Navient?
Navient is one of the largest student loan servicers in the US. They handle both federal and private student loans.
Navient bought online lender, Earnest, in 2017. They also launched NaviRefi in 2018, a company that offers student loan refinancing.
With 45 years in business, Navient has had its hands in the lives of millions of borrowers for a long time.
Navient Student Loans
Federal Student Loans
Navient is one of nine student loan servicers used by the government to service federal student loans. Loans serviced by Navient include:
- Direct subsidized loans
- Direct unsubsidized loans
- Parent PLUS loans
- Grad PLUS loans
- Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP)
If you have federal student loans, you were assigned a student loan servicer by the U.S. Department of Education after your loan funds were first disbursed.
Unfortunately, borrowers don’t get to choose their loan servicer.
Private Student Loans
Private student loans serviced by Navient come from a variety of lenders, including banks, credit unions, or finance companies. Private student loans have a variety of repayment plans available, often at the lender’s discretion.
Navient Student Loan Repayment
Federal loans serviced by Navient are eligible for any of the repayment options available to federal borrowers. When you receive a federal student loan, it will be set up with the standard repayment plan by default.
Other traditional repayment plans are available, as well as Income-Driven Repayment options and loan consolidation.
Traditional Repayment Plans
There are three traditional repayment plans available to federal loan borrowers:
- Standard Repayment Plan: Standard plans last up to ten years and have a fixed monthly payment ($50 minimum). Your monthly payment is based on your total loan amount.
- Graduated Repayment Plan: Graduated plans start with lower monthly loan payments and gradually increase over the life of the loan. Repayment terms are typically set at ten years. Monthly loan payments increase every two years.
- Extended Repayment Plan: Extended plans are similar to Graduated plans, but have 25-year terms. Borrowers will end up paying the most with this option because of interest.
Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans
Another option for federal borrowers is to sign up for an IDR plan. There are four IDR plans to choose from:
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
Each IDR plan has its own requirements, terms, and conditions. All of the IDR plans set monthly payments based on your income. It’s possible to reduce your monthly payments to $0 under IDR plans.
Private Student Loans
The repayment of Navient private student loans is dependent mainly on terms and conditions set by private lenders. Some common repayment options for private loans include:
- In-School Interest-Only: Borrowers only pay monthly interest payments while in school and during their grace period.
- In-School Fixed: Borrowers pay a $25 monthly payment while in school and during their grace period. Interest may capitalize on this repayment plan.
- Deferred: This repayment option is for borrowers who don’t want a payment during school. Typically, no monthly payments are required until six months after graduation or if you drop below half-time as a student. Interest will capitalize on this repayment plan.
Navient Student Loan Forgiveness
If you have federal student loans serviced by Navient, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness through government programs.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) has been a hot topic in the news for the past several years because it takes ten years to qualify, and then borrowers are finally able to apply for the forgiveness program.
To be eligible for PSLF, borrowers must make 120 qualifying monthly payments while working full-time for a qualifying employer. If they meet PSLF requirements and are approved, they can have the remainder of their student loan debt forgiven tax-free.
Qualifying loan payments are on-time payments that are paid in full. Borrowers also need to move their loans to one of the four IDR plans. Qualifying employers must fit the following criteria:
- Government organizations
- 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations
- Other qualified non-profit organizations
- Full-time AmeriCorps or Peace Corps volunteers
What’s interesting about PSLF is the fact that your specific role with your employer doesn’t matter. Only working for qualifying employers matters.
Only payments made while working for your qualified employer count towards payment requirements. However, payments don’t have to be made consecutively and can come from more than one qualified employer.
If you think you may qualify for PSLF, it’s work looking into the program details. This is especially true if you have a large amount of student loan debt.
Income-Driven Repayment Loan Forgiveness
For those who don’t qualify for PSLF, there’s still hope. You can still get a portion of your student loan debt forgiven. This requires you to sign up for one of the IDR plans mentioned earlier.
If you are on an IDR plan and make monthly payments for 20 to 25 years (depending on the IRD specific plan), the remainder of your loan balance will be forgiven.
It’s important to note that you won’t escape without paying taxes, unlike PSLF. Your forgiven debt is considered taxable income by the IRS. Because payments are made for a longer period of time, though, you can make plans to set aside money now so you can pay that tax bill later on.
Other Navient Student Loan Forgiveness Options
Navient borrowers have other, lesser-known forgiveness options at their disposal too. Qualifications vary between the various programs. Most of them are specialized based on where you reside, your career choice, and various other factors.
Here are some of the other loan forgiveness options Navient borrowers can apply for:
- Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness
- Indian Health Service (IHS) Loan Repayment Program (LRP)
- Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
- State-Run Forgiveness Programs
Navient’s Legal Issues
Over the past several years, Navient has been involved in several lawsuits. Claims have been made that Navient isn’t acting in the best interest of its customers.
Lawsuits have been brought against Navient by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) as well as by several states. Navient is also in a legal battle with a group of teachers, backed by the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers’ unions.
Navient is accused of deceitful practices such as incorrectly applying borrower payments, deceiving borrowers on requirements for various programs, sending false reports to credit bureaus, and more.
Common Complaints About Navient Student Loans
Beyond legal issues, borrowers have issues with Navient for other reasons. Like most other federal loan servicers, there are complaints about Navient and how they deal with borrowers. Here are two of the main complaints against Navient.
Many Navient borrowers complain about not being able to reach anyone from the company for help. Automated messages are often the norm.
When borrowers do get in touch with a real person, often, the borrower is more educated on the details of student loans than the Navient representative. It’s frustrating not to get the answers you need.
Going along with customer service is communication from Navient. Some borrowers find that Navient isn’t forthcoming with information that would be helpful to their situation. Misinformation is also common when dealing with Navient.
It’s important to be your own advocate when it comes to your student loans. Take time to do research and not leave it in the hands of a loan servicer like Navient. They should be someone you can turn to for help, but often this isn’t the case.
How To Switch To A New Student Loan Servicer
Unfortunately, borrowers are assigned a loan servicer when loans are first dispersed, and there’s no easy way to switch servicers if you aren’t happy. There is a workaround, though. You can choose your loan servicer if you consolidate your student loan into a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Consolidating your student loans means combining multiple loans into one loan, with one loan payment. During the process of consolidating your loans, you have the option to choose your loan servicer. There are nine federal loan servicers to choose from:
Keep in mind that just because you switch loan servicers doesn’t mean it will be a better experience. You may experience similar issues with another loan servicer.
Not all Navient student loans aren’t eligible for loan consolidation. Parent PLUS loans and private student loans serviced by Navient aren’t eligible. Consolidating your student loans will change your loan terms, sometimes lengthening them.
If you have issues with your loan terms, rate, and monthly payments may change. If you’re unhappy with Navient, this may be a solid choice going forward.
Refinance Your Navient Student Loans
Another way to handle your student loans is to refinance them. For Navient student loans, there are plenty of refinancing options.
As mentioned earlier, NaviRefi is a refinancing company created by Navient. NaviRefi was specifically created to refinance loans serviced by Navient. Refinancing through NaviRefi isn’t available to everyone with student loans. Refinancing through NaviRefi is by invitation only.
Through their website, you can check your potential rate and even apply, but you must be chosen by NaviRefi to be allowed to refinance through the company. Note that refinancing through NaviRefi still leaves your student loans under the Navient umbrella.
Refinancing Your Navient Student Loans Elsewhere
If you are looking to distance yourself from Navient, refinancing with another private lender makes more sense.
When you refinance your student loans, your loans are paid off by a private lender. Then a new loan is issued, with new terms and a new interest rate. If you have excellent credit, you may score a low enough interest rate to save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loans.
Most college grads haven’t established credit at this level yet. Because of that, many private lenders allow you to add a cosigner with excellent credit. A cosigner is someone who is financially responsible for loan payments should you be unable to pay them.
Refinancing federal student loans turns them into private loans. Unfortunately, doing this will end access to federal programs and protections. This includes loan forgiveness programs and IDR plans. If you have a shot at qualifying for PSLF, you may want to hold off on refinancing.
Otherwise, make sure you won’t need access to federal protections in the future before refinancing your student loans.
Navient Student Loans FAQs
Can Navient student loans be forgiven?
As mentioned earlier, Navient student loans can qualify for loan forgiveness. This is open to federal student loans serviced by Navient, and they must meet various requirements to qualify. Navient’s private student loans aren’t eligible for student loan forgiveness.
Will Navient settle student loans?
It’s possible that Navient may allow you to settle your student loans. It’s extremely rare, but it does happen. In most cases, your loans must be in default, and typically they will be sent to a collections agency. Borrowers can ask about a loan settlement with the collections agency or the owner of the loans.
If you can demonstrate that you’re unable to pay back your loans, you may end up receiving a settlement offer from one of the parties involved. Most loan settlements require a lump sum payment, which may be difficult if you’re in financial hardship.
What happens if I stop paying my Navient student loan?
If you stop paying your student loans, most likely, they will end up in default. When this happens, you can face many penalties, including having your wages garnished, tax refund withheld, no more access to federal programs or new loans, and ending up in court.
It’s also possible you will be blocked from purchasing or selling assets, like a house. It’s best to avoid defaulting on your loans, if at all possible.
Millions of people have Navient student loans or will receive them in the future. It’s important to be familiar with your loan servicer, no matter who they are. The more you’re informed about your servicer and your loans, the easier it is to formulate a successful repayment plan.