Navient and Nelnet: They Are Not The Same

#1 Student loan lawyer

Updated on February 15, 2024

Navient and Nelnet — ever find yourself scratching your head about the difference between these two major student loan servicers?

As a borrower, grasping the distinctions between them is crucial for maximizing your repayment opportunities.

Ahead, we will dissect Navient and Nelnet, highlighting their similarities, differences, and the potential impact of recent shifts in the federal student loan servicing landscape on your loans. Buckle up for a thorough guide designed to help you smoothly navigate the often confusing world of student loan repayment!

Brief Overview:

  • Navient and Nelnet, two leading student loan servicers, provide key services to federal student loan borrowers, such as income-driven repayment options and loan forgiveness programs.

  • The Department of Education has contracted with five servicers to enhance customer service, providing borrowers more control over their loan management and repayment progress.

Understanding Navient and Nelnet: More Than Just Loan Servicers

Navient and Nelnet: two names you’ve likely heard if you’re navigating the realm of student loan repayment. Together, they manage the repayments for millions of borrowers. Navient services both federal and private student loans, while Nelnet focuses solely on federal loans on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education and selected guaranty agencies.

They perform crucial tasks such as managing loan accounts, processing payments, assisting borrowers with enrollment in different repayment plans, temporarily pausing payments through deferments and forbearances, and managing forgiveness and cancellation requests.

But these two giants are not identical twins.

They have notable differences that can significantly impact your repayment experience.

For instance, Navient has a history of legal issues, including numerous lawsuits, along with its predecessor Sallie Mae, for allegedly mismanaging borrowers’ accounts and issuing predatory loans. They recently reached a nearly nationwide settlement with dozens of state attorneys general.

Contrastingly, Nelnet shines with its customer service and support, often receiving positive feedback from borrowers.

Who's Behind Nelnet: A Look at Ownership

Nelnet, a company established in 1996 by Mike Dunlap and Steve Butterfield, isn’t owned by the federal government, but rather, it’s a publicly traded company. Back in 2018, Nelnet expanded its reach by acquiring Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc. Initially, these two maintained separate servicing, but the tides started to change in March 2022. Loans from Great Lakes began to be transferred to Nelnet, a process that’s expected to stretch out until October 2023.

If Great Lakes is currently your loan servicer, expect a heads-up two weeks before the date of your account transfer. Nelnet will notify you once the transfer wraps up, and you’ll be issued a new federal student loan account number.

Although Great Lakes will continue forwarding your payments to Nelnet for at least 120 days after your transfer date, creating a new online account with Nelnet is essential. Don’t forget to set up your new payment preferences there.

This ownership shuffle is something for borrowers to keep an eye on, as it could potentially affect the quality of service and support. While Great Lakes had a lower complaint rate than other servicers like Nelnet, FedLoan Servicing, and Navient, how will this merger impact the overall customer experience for those with loans now under Nelnet’s wing? It’s a situation that certainly bears watching.

Navient and Nelnet each bring their own strengths to the table, and understanding these differences can simplify your student loan journey. Navient is known for its comprehensive loan management features, whereas Nelnet excels in providing superior customer service and support. Let’s dissect these differences.

Loan Management Features

Navient offers unique loan management features, particularly for the privately-held Federal Family Education Loans it services for guaranty agencies. In addition, Navient services private student loans, which may be refinanced through Navient or a new student loan refinancing lender, offering borrowers potential flexibility.

On the other hand, Nelnet provides similar options for the FFEL loans it services, but it goes one step further for the Ed-owned federal student loans it services for the federal government. In this case, Nelnet offers expanded Income-Driven Repayment plans, giving borrowers additional ways to manage their loan repayments.

While both companies present a variety of loan options, the additional features provided by each could sway borrowers depending on their specific needs and circumstances.

Customer Service and Support

Although Navient boasts numerous loan management features, Nelnet holds the edge in customer service. Great Lakes, now part of Nelnet, historically had a lower complaint rate compared to other servicers, including Navient and FedLoan Servicing. This could indicate a more pleasant experience for those interacting with Nelnet’s customer service.

When selecting a loan servicer, the quality of customer service is a crucial consideration. It can significantly influence your overall experience during the repayment process. So take your time, and weigh the pros and cons of each servicer’s loan management features and customer service before deciding.

Absolutely! It’s possible to have loans serviced by both Nelnet and Navient. Each company services different types of loans, like federal or private student loans, and provides a range of repayment options and loan management features. But remember, juggling loans with both companies could complicate things when tracking loan details. It may also affect your eligibility for specific student loan forgiveness and repayment options.

For example, any FFELP Loans you have with Navient aren’t eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. To qualify for PSLF, you must consolidate your Navient federal student loans into a Direct Loan and then apply for cancellation due to your public service work.

You can submit a loan consolidation application for free on the Federal Student Aid website.

Why Can't Student Aid Detect My Navient and Nelnet Loans?

If your loans serviced by Navient and Nelnet aren’t showing up on, it might be because the loan details haven’t been updated in the database yet. Information on is provided by schools, loan servicers, lenders, and guaranty agencies. These data providers usually take 7-10 days to update information in the database.

If your loan details still seem off after waiting for updates, contact your school or loan servicer directly. They can verify and correct any system discrepancies, which should subsequently be updated on

It’s important to note that after making a payment to your servicer, it can take between 30-90 days for this update to be reflected in your account.

If you’ve taken these steps and the issue persists, don’t hesitate to submit a complaint with the FSA Ombudsman or, if that fails, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Types of Loans Offered by Navient and Nelnet

Navient and Nelnet service federal loans—they don’t offer the loans themselves. Instead, they manage these loans on behalf of the federal government and guaranty agencies.

Nelnet is in charge of several types of federal student loans, including Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans. Looking for private student loan options? Nelnet Bank, a separate entity, is where you’ll find these.

Navient is similar in that it services both federal and private student loans. They also provide repayment plans, loan consolidation options, and loan forgiveness opportunities. For borrowers interested in private student loans or refinancing existing ones, Navient has you covered.

Landmark Shifts in Federal Student Loan Servicing: What's Changing?

Do you know the student loan servicing landscape is experiencing seismic shifts? The Department of Education recently inked contracts with a fresh batch of student loan servicers, effectively replacing Nelnet and Great Lakes.

It also led Navient to part ways with the Department of Education, transitioning all Ed-held loans to a new student loan servicer, Aidvantage, owned by Maximus. These changes are causing significant ripples, affecting both new and existing borrowers.

The New Contracts and Servicers

Here’s the lowdown: The Department of Education’s new contracts are with five student loan servicers. The intention behind this move? To elevate the quality of customer service and increase contractor accountability. The newly contracted servicers, popularly known as the ‘Big Four’, consist of EdFinancial, MOHELA, Aidvantage, and Nelnet. The ultimate goal is to streamline the borrower experience and make the loan repayment journey as frictionless as possible.

So, what does this mean for you, the borrower?

Keeping a close eye on these changes is crucial, as they can affect how your loan is serviced and what repayment options you can access.

If your servicer changes, you may need to alter how you manage your loans, track your repayment progress, and interact with your servicer. Staying in the loop with these transitions helps you confidently navigate the ever-changing federal student loan servicing landscape.

Impact on Borrowers

Changing servicers can have a huge impact on borrowers. For instance, shifting to new servicers might cause temporary communication disruptions or make tracking loan details tricky. You may need to rework your repayment strategies or reassess your eligibility for specific loan forgiveness and repayment options.

But that’s if everything goes right. If something goes wrong, as it has in the past, some borrowers might find higher-than-expected loan balances or lost records of student loan payments.

But don’t worry. Proactive steps can minimize any negative impacts.

Keep a keen eye on your loan accounts, maintain open communication with your servicer, and stay updated about federal student loan servicing changes. This way, you can enjoy a seamless transition and make the most of your repayment options.

Understanding Forgiveness and Repayment Options

Depending on their loan type and servicer, numerous forgiveness and repayment options are available to borrowers. These options can include Public Service Loan Forgiveness, income-driven repayment plans, and in some instances, possible loan cancellation under plans proposed by certain policymakers.

Staying well-informed about these options is crucial for borrowers. Detailed knowledge of one’s loan conditions can ensure borrowers are well-positioned to seize all opportunities available.

Proposed Loan Cancellation Plans

Recently, President Biden made a significant move towards easing student loan debt. He signed an executive order implementing a plan that offers up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness for low- to middle-income borrowers with federal student loans. To be eligible for this plan, individuals must have an annual income of less than $125,000. This income cap increases to $250,000 annually for married couples and/or heads of households.

This development provides substantial relief to those who qualify, potentially reducing their student loan burdens and paving the way for improved financial stability. But the plan has sparked several legal challenges in states such as Indiana, Missouri, and Texas, with the lawsuits progressing to the Supreme Court. The high court’s ruling, expected in the summer, will ultimately determine the future of this broad debt cancellation initiative.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

Federal student loan repayment options include Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans. These plans—Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)—tailor monthly payments to your income and family size.

A recent addition is the one-time income-driven repayment waiver. This adjustment, applicable to Direct Loan Program loans and federally owned FFEL Program loans, counts various repayment periods towards IDR forgiveness, including periods of forbearance, deferment, and more.

The Department of Education will review accounts in stages, initially targeting loans with a repayment period of 20 or 25 years. If eligible for IDR forgiveness, you will be notified with an option to opt-out. This adjustment offers a path toward easier loan management and potential forgiveness, making it a significant development in federal student loan repayment strategies.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program offers loan forgiveness for the remaining balance on Direct Loans after you’ve made 120 qualifying payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer, typically a government or non-profit organization.

Borrowers working in public service could see substantial reductions in their student loan debt and potentially achieve total loan forgiveness if they meet the required criteria.

Tracking Your Loan Details

Keeping diligent track of your loan details is essential. It allows you to make informed decisions about your repayment strategy and ensures you’re taking advantage of any forgiveness or repayment options available to you.

Spreadsheets can be useful for calculating and tracking loan amounts. Additionally, various online tools and software exist to automate and manage the loan lifecycle, from origination to repayment.

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Are student loans on Nelnet being forgiven?

Student loans managed by <a href="">Nelnet may qualify for forgiveness</a> depending on the loan type and the repayment plan in use. Eligibility could stem from programs like President Biden’s student debt relief plan, income-based repayment plan forgiveness, or the new Income-Driven Repayment Waiver.

Why is my student loan being transferred to Nelnet?

The transfer of student loans to Nelnet is part of a broader strategy to enhance customer service and repayment assistance. This shift, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Education, aims to ensure borrowers have access to comprehensive resources for student loan management. By creating an account on Nelnet’s website, borrowers can easily determine which loans are serviced by Nelnet.

Whose student loans will be forgiven by Navient?

Navient is set to forgive the student loans of borrowers with FFEL Loans who work in public service or have been in student loan repayment for at least twenty years by December 31, 2022. This program provides substantial relief for those who have struggled with long-term student loan debt, offering an opportunity for these borrowers to make significant strides toward financial freedom.