If you borrowed money to go to college, chances are you’ve heard of Sallie Mae (the nickname for the Student Loan Marketing Association). It has issued student loans for more than 40 years and even inspired a hit rap song last year. But you may not know that to comply with a federal regulation barring private lenders from servicing federal loans, Sallie Mae split into two companies in 2014. Sallie Mae continued to issue private loans. Its new spinoff firm, Navient Corp., took over loan servicing responsibilities, collecting payments on billions of dollars of student loans issued by the U.S. Department of Education.
Today, Navient is one of the nation’s biggest loan servicers, handling about 1 in 5 student loans issued by the federal government. Here’s everything you need to know about Navient.
Navient is the nation’s third-largest federal student loan servicer, behind AES and Great Lakes. Navient came into being in 2014 when Sallie Mae split into two companies. Sallie Mae was created by the U.S. Congress in 1972 and operated as a government-sponsored enterprise until 2004, when it became a private corporation. Sallie Mae and Navient are now completely separate, public firms with shares traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Navient handles about 22% of the U.S. Dept. of Education’s direct loans, serving almost 7 million borrowers with debt totaling over $200 billion. Many borrowers who took out federal loans from Sallie Mae prior to 2014 had their debt shifted to Navient in October 2014. Navient also services a large portfolio of private student loans and has several debt collection subsidiaries including Pioneer Credit Recovery and General Revenue Corporation.
Like all loan servicers, Navient acts as a liaison between borrowers and their lender, the U.S. government. Navient sends bills and account statements, processes payments, helps borrowers change payment plans, and deals with requests for deferment or forbearance. It also certifies borrowers for loan forgiveness.
Borrowers are encouraged to set up accounts on Navient’s website, which has some tools to help them manage their their loans. Account holders can set up autopay, change repayment plans, learn about loan forgiveness, change due dates, calculate payoff times, and print tax documents.
Navient’s website has some educational resources to help borrowers manage their finances. These include interactive budgeting worksheets, a financial tips blog, and dozens of “Path to Success” and “Career Playbook” videos. The company also has a mobile app to make loan payment more convenient. The application has received mixed reviews from users, but it offers the same basic functions as the website.
All federal student loan servicers offer the same basic repayment options, established by the U.S. Department of Education. Borrowers with Navient-serviced loans can choose from repayment plans including:
Navient also helps eligible borrowers enroll in a handful of federal income-driven repayment programs, in which payments are capped at a certain percentage of their incomes.
If you have a Navient-serviced loan and are having difficulty making your payments, the first step is to contact Navient’s customer service department. In most cases, borrowers who are unemployed or experiencing financial hardship can qualify for forbearance or deferment. If you are on a standard 10-year repayment plan, extending the term of your loan to 25 years can dramatically lower your monthly payments.
However, while postponing payments or extending payoff time can help in the short term, both options will keep you in debt longer and increase the amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan. Federal loan servicers are not able to decrease your interest rate.
Many borrowers with Navient-serviced loans have been able to cut their monthly payments and save thousands of dollars over the life of their loans by refinancing with a private lender. Private lenders are often able to offer significantly lower interest rates than the standard, one-size-fits-all rates set by Congress for federal loans. Borrowers who owe at least $5,000, have finished their degrees, and have good credit scores are the most likely to benefit from refinancing. In a recent analysis we found that people who refinanced with private lenders saved an average of $259 a month and $19,231 over the life of their student loans.
At the Comet, we regularly evaluate companies that offer student loan refinancing based on a comprehensive 23-point assessment. The following lenders topped our ratings for 2018, based on their interest rates, transparency, product offerings, track records, ease of applying, and customer service. They all have online applications that take 5 minutes or less and provide instant results with no impact to credit.
Find out now if you could save money by refinancing with the top lenders listed below...
M-TH: 8:00 AM - 9:00 PM (EST)
F: 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM (EST)
Contact Us: https://www.navient.com/about/contact-us/
Navient U.S. Department of Education Loan Servicing
P.O. Box 9635
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773-9635
Works with 275+ not-for-profit community lenders for higher approval chances
LendKey operates student loan programs for over 275 not-for-profit and community lenders across the country. By partnering with these lenders, LendKey is able to give consumers direct access to the best rates available from the most borrower friendly institutions. As the servicer of all loans obtained through its platform, you can rest easy knowing your personal information will be safe and that the best customer service team will be ready to answer your questions from application until your final payment.
Offers unemployment protection and career/coaching/networking
SoFi, which stands for “Social Finance,” was created by a group of Stanford business students who found themselves with a mountain of debt after graduation. They set out to change the student loan industry and help borrowers like themselves to get lower interest rates. SoFi has some of the lowest interest rates and, unlike the other lenders we reviewed, it has no maximum amount you can finance. However, Nevada residents can’t currently refinance with SoFi. Minimum loan balances are higher in Arizona, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania due to state laws. Additional state restrictions may apply.
For every loan they fund, they contribute to the education of a child in need
CommonBond was founded in 2011 by three MBA graduates from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who wanted to help their peers escape from high-interest student loan debt. Its original focus was on grad students, but it has since expanded to cover undergrads as well.
Of all the companies we reviewed, CommonBond has some of the best customer service. The company prides itself on being easy to reach by email, phone, or live chat. It offers networking events, expert panels, insider newsletters, and even has a program help borrowers who lose their jobs to find new ones. CommonBond also makes you feel good about choosing to refinance with them by donating money to an education nonprofit for each loan they write.
Get a personalized review of your refinancing options with CommonBond today.
Earnest empowers people with the financial captial they need to live better lives.
Using technology, data, and design to build affordable products, Earnest's lending products are built for a new generation seeking to reach life's milestones. The company understands every applicant's unique financial story to offer the lowest possible rates and radically flexible loan options for living life.
Click here to apply with Earnest and to see how much you can save.
Operates in all 50 states; 2nd largest student loan refinancing lender
Laurel Road is a national online lender with customers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Many of our non-bank competitors are not able to lend in all 50 states.Laurel Road has grown to be the second largest player in the student loan refinancing space in large part because of our reputation as the go-to low rate provider.
Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products
Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with new rates as low as 3.25% fixed APR which can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loans. No application or origination fees and no prepayment penalties. Splash Financial is in all 50 states and is intensely focused on customer service. Splash Financial is also one of the few companies that offers a great medical resident and fellow refinance product. You can check your rate with Splash in just minutes.
Click here to see more of Splash's offerings and to see how you can save money.