Nelnet Student Loans Review

When pursuing college, millions of people turn to federal student aid to help to further their education.

If you’re approved for federal student loans, you’ll be assigned a loan servicer. Nelnet is one of the largest loan servicers providing support for federal student loans.

If you have student loans, there’s a good chance Nelnet is servicing them. Let’s take a closer look at what they offer borrowers today.

What is Nelnet?

nelnetNelnet is a Nebraska-based student loan servicing company.

Founded in 1996, Nelnet services a large percentage of federal student loans for millions of people in the U.S.

In 2018, Nelnet bought Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, another federal student loan servicer.

Nelnet Student Loans

Nelnet services federal student loans. As a servicer, they are designated as managers of student loan accounts by the government and handle the day-to-day services for borrowers.

This includes processing payments, making changes to accounts, and providing customer support. If you have federal student loans, there’s a good chance that Nelnet is your loan servicer. Nelnet services over 40% of all federal student loans.

Nelnet Repayment Plans

Because Nelnet is a federal loan servicer, borrowers can utilize any of the federal loan repayment plans. What options are there?

Standard Repayment Plan

The Standard repayment plan is the default plan given to all federal loan borrowers to start. Payments of at least $50 a month are spread out over time, up to 10 years except for consolidation loans, whose terms are between 10 and 30 years.

Graduated Repayment Plan

With a Graduated plan, monthly payments start low and gradually increase throughout the life of the loan. Payments increase every 24 months until the student loan balance is paid in full.

Extended Repayment Plan

If you’re looking for more flexibility with loan terms, the extended repayment plan may be for you. Monthly payments are lower because of the extended loan terms, up to 25 years. Borrowers can choose from Standard payments or Graduated payments under the extended repayment plan.

Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan

This plan is only for borrowers with Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans.  Payments are adjusted based on your monthly gross income. Borrowers can be on this plan for up to 5 years. After that time, your account will be switched to the Standard plan or Graduated plan.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

There are 4 Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans available:

  1. Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
  2. Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
  3. Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
  4. Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)

Each plan is different and offers repayment terms between 10 and 25 years, depending on the specific plan. IDR plans are based on a percentage of your disposable income, between 10 and 20%.

Nelnet can help you change plans if you want to switch from the Standard plan you originally received.

Nelnet Payment Options

When it comes to payments, there are several ways to make monthly payments with Nelnet. Options include:

  • Online, through your account
  • By phone
  • Through Nelnet’s mobile app
  • Send a check by mail
  • Automatic debit payment
  • Online bill pay through your bank

Nelnet makes it easy to make payments. Borrowers can even receive text alerts before your payments are due.

Nelnet Loan Forgiveness And Other Benefits

Many Nelnet student loans are eligible for federal student loan forgiveness programs. What plans are available?

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

PSLF has been in the news for the past couple of years, as borrowers have finally been able to start applying for the program. With PSLF, borrowers making 120 qualifying monthly payments while working full-time for a qualifying employer can have the remainder of their student loan debt forgiven tax-free.

To qualify, applicants must make 120 full, on-time monthly payments. Qualifying loan payments must be on-time and paid in full. Another requirement is being on one of the four IDR plans. Qualifying employers must be one of the following:

  • Government organizations
  • 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations
  • Other qualified non-profit organizations
  • Full-time AmeriCorps or Peace Corps volunteers

Your specific job title with your employer doesn’t matter. Also, only payments made while working for your qualified employer count towards payment requirements. Payments don’t have to be made consecutively.

IDR Loan Forgiveness

If you don’t qualify for PSLF, there is still an option to get a portion of your student loan debt forgiven. Anyone on an IDR plan that pays monthly payments for 20 to 25 years (depending on the specific plan) will get the rest of their loan balance forgiven. Unlike PSLF, however, you will most likely pay taxes on the forgiven debt. Any forgiven loan funds are treated as taxable income by the IRS. It’s smart to start setting aside money now to pay the hefty tax bill down the road.

Common Problems With Nelnet Student Loans

Federal loan servicers have a reputation for poor service. Nelnet is no different, although they seem to be better received than other servicers.

Nelnet has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. That doesn’t mean they are without any complaints. There are over 400 complaints with the BBB about Nelnet.

There are even more complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Here are common complaints about Nelnet.

Customer Service

Customer service is an issue with Nelnet. Many borrowers have reported that Nelnet’s customer service representatives haven’t followed up on the requested account changes. Often, customers get different answers each time they talk to a different Nelnet representative.

Payment Processing

Many Nelnet borrowers have issues with how their payments are processed. Often, funds are allocated to the wrong loan. Some borrowers have requested changes to their payments or repayment plan, and Nelnet has either failed to make changes or made the wrong changes.

Consolidating Your Nelnet Student Loans

If you have federal student loans, you had no say in which loan servicer you were assigned. You can’t switch loan servicers, either.

One way around this, though, is to consolidate your student loan into a Direct Consolidation Loan. By consolidating your student loans, you take multiple loans and combine them into one loan, with one loan payment.

When you switch to a Direct Consolidation Loan, you have the option to choose your loan servicer. There are nine loan servicers to choose from:

  1. Nelnet
  2. Navient
  3. Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.
  4. Fedloan Servicing (PHEAA)
  6. HESC/EdFinancial
  7. CornerStone
  8. Granite State – GSMR
  9. OSLA Servicing

Some loans aren’t eligible for loan consolidation. Parent PLUS loans and private student loans aren’t eligible. Consolidating your student loans will change your loan terms, sometimes lengthening them.

If you have issues with Nelnet, consolidating your loans is one possible solution. There’s no guarantee you won’t run into similar issues with another federal student loan servicer.

Refinancing Your Nelnet Student Loans

Besides loan consolidation, you can get away from Nelnet by refinancing your student loans. When you refinance student loans, they become private loans, with new loan terms and interest rate. If your credit is good enough, you can qualify for low interest rates, saving thousands of dollars in interest payments.

For those without excellent credit, many private student loan lenders allow the use of a cosigner to qualify for loans. A cosigner is someone who is financially responsible for your loan payments if you are unable to pay them.

Refinanced student loans are private student loans. If you refinance your student loan, you’ll no longer have access to federal protections like loan forgiveness, federal repayment plans, forbearance, and deferment.

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What If There Is An Issue With My Nelnet Student Loans?

If you have an issue with your Nelnet student loans, you have options available.

First, you can contact Nelnet’s customer service to resolve any issues. Borrowers need to keep detailed notes when working with customer service, whether by phone, email, or another option. Record names of the customer service reps you talked to, dates, and times, and any specific information you are given. You never know when this might be needed later, and notes could help you resolve issues faster.

Nelnet Customer Service

Nelnet borrowers have several ways to contact Nelnet:

  • Nelnet Phone Number: (888) 486-4722,  Monday through Friday,  8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Eastern Time)
  • Fax: (877) 402-5816
  • Email:
  • Nelnet Address (General Correspondence): Nelnet, P.O. Box 82561, Lincoln, NE 68501-2561

Nelnet also has a mobile app, which is available on iOS and Android. Within the app, users can view and update account information, make payments, sign up for eCorrespondence, get text alerts, and more.

It’s usually best to resolve issues directly with your loan servicer. Sometimes, though, it’s just not possible without outside help. There are several ways to leave complaints online about Nelnet if you feel you’ve been wronged.

Some of these options include:

As a last resort, borrowers can seek out the help of an Ombudsman to resolve issues with Nelnet. An Ombudsman is a neutral, impartial party that can be brought in to help resolve disputes. Nelnet borrowers have two Ombudsman options available.

Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group

  • Mail:
    • U.S. Department of Education
      FSA Ombudsman Group
      P.O. Box 1843
      Monticello, KY 42633
  • Phone: (877) 557-2575
  • Fax: (606) 396-4821

College Assist/Nelnet Guarantor Solutions

Hopefully, you won’t need to use any of the above resources. It’s nice to know that borrowers have places to turn when there are issues with their student loans.

Nelnet FAQs

Are Nelnet student loans federal or private?

Nelnet student loans are federal student loans.

Is Nelnet Legitimate?

Yes, Nelnet, is 100% legit. They are one of nine federal student loan servicers.

What If You Can’t Pay Your Nelnet Student Loans?

If you’re facing financial hardship, Nelnet has options that can provide some much-needed relief. Loan deferment is one option. Deferment is a way to pause monthly payments for a set amount of time. Depending on your type of student loan, deferment won’t cause you to accrue interest during this time.

Another option is forbearance. Payments are paused with forbearance as well, but interest will accrue on your loans. Borrowers should try and at least pay monthly interest payments to avoid interest capitalization.

Nelnet can help borrowers with more details regarding deferment and forbearance and getting signed up if qualified.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Nelnet?

Late payments or delinquent payments could be subject to late fees. There’s a good chance late payments will be reported to credit bureaus, which could affect your credit. Delinquent payments can cause borrowers to lose eligibility for some benefits and incentives. It’s important to stay up to date on payments and to reach out to Nelnet if there’s a hardship keeping you from paying.

Is Nelnet the Best Student Loan Servicer For You?

Nelnet is just like any other federal loan servicer. They have their pros and cons and don’t always provide the best service.

Federal student loans have helped millions of people pay for college expenses. People with Nelnet student loans should take the time to familiarize themselves with Nelnet and their loans.

It’s important to be well informed so you can make the right decisions concerning your student loan debt.

Grant Sabatier

Grant Sabatier

Creator of Millennial Money and Author of Financial Freedom (Penguin Random House). Dubbed "The Millennial Millionaire" by CNBC, Grant went from $2.26 to over $1 million in 5 years, reaching financial independence at age 30. Grant has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, NPR, Money Magazine and many others. He uses Personal Capital to manage his money in 10 minutes a month.
Grant Sabatier

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