Navient Student Loan Forgiveness: How it Works [June 2024]

#1 Student loan lawyer

Updated on June 17, 2024

Quick Facts

  • Navient offers a private student loan forgiveness program for borrowers misled by their schools.

  • Eligibility is based on school misconduct or misrepresentation, not employment or income.

  • Borrowers must submit an application with an explanation and supporting documentation.

  • Those who have paid off their loans through regular payments, settlement, or refinancing are ineligible.

Student Loan Attorney Stanley Tate smiling with a microphone, next to text "Navient’s Forgiveness Program Explained" on a yellow and purple background.

If you’re a Navient borrower looking for student loan forgiveness options, you’re in the right place. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to the various programs available, depending on your loan type and situation.

We’ll start by discussing Navient’s private student loan forgiveness program, which offers relief to borrowers who were misled by their schools. You’ll learn what the program entails, how to determine if you’re eligible, and where to get the application.

But what if your application is denied? Don’t worry. We’ll also explore alternative options and strategies for seeking relief, even if you don’t qualify for the private loan forgiveness program.

If you have federal loans serviced by Navient, such as Federal Family Education Loan Program loans, we’ve got you covered there, too. We’ll dive into the one-time IDR account adjustment, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and the SAVE Plan, so you can understand how these programs work and what steps you need to take to benefit from them.

Finally, we’ll provide context on other Navient student loan debt relief settlements, such as the state attorneys general debt cancellation and the bankruptcy settlement. These settlements have helped many borrowers eliminate some or all of their private student loan debt, and understanding their significance can be valuable for your own journey towards loan forgiveness.

By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of the various Navient student loan forgiveness options available to you and the actionable steps you can take to start your path towards debt relief.

What it is: A program offered by Navient that allows borrowers who were misled by their schools to apply for private student loan forgiveness. This program is similar to the federal Borrower Defense to Repayment program but specifically for Navient private student loans.

Who’s eligible: Borrowers who took out private student loans from Navient and experienced school misconduct or misrepresentation. Examples of school misconduct include false promises about job placement rates, earning potential, or the transferability of credits. Eligibility is not based on employment, income, or financial hardship. However, borrowers who have already paid off their loans in full, settled, or refinanced are not eligible.

How it differs from federal loan forgiveness: The Navient private student loan forgiveness program shares similarities with the federal Borrower Defense to Repayment program, which has helped many borrowers who attended schools like the Art Institutes to discharge their federal student loans.

Note that Navient’s program is a separate initiative specifically designed for private student loans.

If you’ve already had your federal loans forgiven through the Art Institutes Borrower Defense program, you may still be eligible for Navient’s private student loan forgiveness. Keep in mind that other federal student loan forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness or Income-Driven Repayment forgiveness, are not available for private student loans.

When it started: The exact start date of the program is unclear, as Navient has not widely publicized it. However, the program gained attention in 2024 when the Project on Predatory Student Lending and the New York Times began raising awareness about it.

Legal basis: The program is based on the holder-in-due-course rule, a 1975 Federal Trade Commission regulation that allows borrowers to contest their debt if the goods or services they purchased were fraudulent.

Current Status: Ongoing. Navient’s private student loan forgiveness program is still active, and eligible borrowers can apply for relief by contacting Navient and submitting the required application and supporting documentation.

How to Apply

Step 1: Contact Navient: To begin the application process, you must reach out to Navient to request the school misconduct discharge application. You can do this by calling Navient’s customer service line at 888-545-4199 ext. 998214 or by sending an email to advocate@navient.com.

If Navient refuses to give you an application or takes too long to send it to you, consider filing a complaint with the CFPB. In our experience, this can be an effective way to expedite the process. One of our clients received her application the next business day after filing a complaint.

Step 2: Complete the Application: The school misconduct discharge application requires you to provide a detailed explanation of how your school misled you or engaged in misconduct. Be thorough and specific in your explanation, outlining the false promises, misrepresentations, or deceptive practices that influenced your decision to take out private student loans. You can refer to this sample of the Navient Private Student Loan Discharge Application for guidance.

Step 3: Gather Supporting Documentation: To strengthen your case, collect and submit relevant documentation that supports your claims of school misconduct. This may include marketing materials, enrollment agreements, email correspondence, or other evidence that demonstrates your school’s deceptive practices.

Step 4: Submit the Application: Once you have completed the application and gathered all supporting documentation, submit the package to Navient for review. You can submit the application via mail or email, depending on Navient’s specified submission process.

What to expect after submitting your application: After submitting your application, Navient will review your case and make a determination on your eligibility for loan forgiveness. The timeline for this process may vary, so stay in contact with Navient for updates on the status of your application.

What Affects Your Chances of Approval?

Several factors can impact your likelihood of being approved for Navient’s private student loan forgiveness program:

  1. The strength of your claim: Your chances of approval are higher if you can clearly demonstrate that your school engaged in misconduct or made false promises. Focus on providing a compelling narrative that highlights how your school’s actions directly influenced your decision to take out private student loans.

  2. The quality of your supporting documentation: Submitting strong evidence that backs up your claims can significantly improve your odds of success. This may include marketing materials that showcase your school’s false promises, enrollment agreements that contain misleading information, or any other documentation that substantiates your claim of school misconduct.

  3. The completeness and accuracy of your application: Ensuring that your application is thorough, consistent, and free of errors can help you avoid delays or denials in the review process. Take the time to carefully complete each section of the application, double-check your information for accuracy, and make sure that your supporting documentation is well-organized and easy to understand.

Insights from a Student Loan Lawyer

As a student loan lawyer who has assisted clients in applying for and receiving approval for Navient’s private student loan forgiveness program, I’ve found that the following strategies can significantly improve a borrower’s chances of success:

  1. Provide specific, detailed information on how you were misled by your school. Be as clear and concise as possible when explaining the misconduct or false promises that influenced your decision to take out private student loans.

  2. Gather evidence to support your claims. Start by searching for any relevant documentation you already have in your possession, such as marketing materials, enrollment agreements, or email correspondence with school representatives.

  3. If you don’t have sufficient evidence, consider searching online forums and social media groups, such as those on Reddit and Facebook, to crowdsource information from other students who attended your school and may have experienced similar misconduct.

  4. Once you have collected supporting evidence, personalize it to your specific situation. Make sure the information aligns with your own experiences and memories of the school’s misconduct.

  5. Present a strong, cohesive case in your application. Ensure that your explanation and supporting evidence work together to create a compelling and convincing argument for why you deserve loan forgiveness.

Overcoming Challenges in the Application Process

Borrowers may face challenges when seeking evidence or navigating the application process for Navient’s private student loan forgiveness program. Some common obstacles include:

  • Difficulty in locating or accessing old documentation related to their school’s misconduct.

  • Uncertainty about what types of evidence are most persuasive or relevant to their case.

  • Confusion or frustration with the application requirements and process.

Application Processing Timeline and Communication

What to expect: After submitting your application for Navient’s private student loan forgiveness program, the company will review your case to determine your eligibility for relief. The exact timeline for processing applications may vary, but borrowers should generally expect the review process to take several weeks to a few months.

Factors affecting review time: The length of the review process can depend on various factors, such as:

  • The volume of applications received by Navient

  • The complexity of each individual case

  • The time required to verify the information and evidence provided by the borrower

Communication during the review process: During the review process, Navient may contact you if they require additional information or clarification regarding your application. It’s crucial to respond promptly to any such requests to avoid delays in the decision-making process. You can also proactively reach out to Navient for updates on the status of your application, but keep in mind that frequent inquiries may not necessarily expedite the process.

When you’ll receive a decision: Once Navient has completed its review of your application, they will notify you of the outcome via mail or email. The time it takes to receive a decision after submitting your application can vary, but most borrowers can expect to hear back within a few months.

Potential outcomes:

  • Approval: If your application is approved, Navient will provide you with information about the specific relief you’re eligible for, such as a partial or full discharge of your private student loans.

  • Denial: If your application is denied, Navient will explain the reasons for the denial and may provide information about appealing the decision or exploring alternative relief options.

Alternative Options for Ineligible or Denied Borrowers

If you are not eligible for Navient’s private student loan forgiveness program or if your application is denied, there are still several options to consider:

  1. Appeal the decision: If your application is denied, review the reasons provided by Navient and consider appealing the decision. Gather additional evidence or documentation that addresses the specific reasons for denial and submit a formal appeal to Navient.

  2. Explore other loan forgiveness programs: While Navient’s program is specifically for private student loans, there may be other forgiveness options available depending on your situation. Research state-specific loan forgiveness programs or profession-based programs that align with your background.

  3. Consider income-driven repayment plans: If you’re struggling to make your monthly payments, contact Navient to discuss alternative repayment plans, such as income-driven repayment. These plans can help lower your monthly payments based on your income and family size.

  4. Negotiate with Navient: In some cases, you may be able to negotiate with Navient for a loan modification or settlement. This could involve a temporary reduction in monthly payments, a lower interest rate, or a lump-sum settlement amount.

  5. Seek legal assistance: If you believe that Navient has unfairly denied your application or that you have a strong case for loan forgiveness, consider seeking the advice of a student loan lawyer. They can help you understand your rights, explore legal options, and potentially represent you in negotiations or legal proceedings.

Additional Resources and Support

In addition to the options listed above, there are various resources and support services available to help you:

  • Student loan advocacy organizations: Groups like the National Consumer Law Center, The Institute of Student Loan Advisors, and the Student Borrower Protection Center offer information, guidance, and advocacy for student loan borrowers.

  • Non-profit credit counseling agencies: These organizations can provide free or low-cost advice on managing your student loans and exploring repayment options.

  • Online forums and support groups: Connecting with other borrowers who have gone through similar experiences via Reddit or Facebook can provide valuable insights, support, and encouragement as you navigate the process.

Forgiveness Options for Navient FFEL Loans

What it is: In addition to Navient’s private student loan forgiveness program, there are also debt relief options for the federal student loans it services, particularly those made under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program.

The biggest relief program is the one-time IDR account adjustment. This program was launched by President Biden last year. It helps borrowers get closer to loan forgiveness by providing credit for past periods of repayment, deferment, and forbearance.

How it works: The payment count adjustment is a program that will count time towards IDR forgiveness, PSLF Program forgiveness, and SAVE Plan Forgiveness, even if you weren’t on an IDR plan. It will give you credit for:

  • Any months spent in repayment, regardless of the repayment plan or whether payments were partial or late

  • Any months spent in deferment (except for in-school deferment) before 2013

  • Any months spent in economic hardship or military deferments after 2013

  • Any months spent in forbearance (except for in-school forbearance) of 12 consecutive months or greater, or 36 cumulative months or greater.

Who’s eligible: Borrowers with privately held FFEL Program loans serviced by Navient may be eligible for the IDR account adjustment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness if they consolidate their loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

FFEL Loans are loans were made by private lenders but guaranteed or federally backed by the federal government. In your Navient account, they may be labeled as FFEL Stafford Subsidized, FFEL Stafford Unsubsidized, FFEL PLUS, or FFEL Consolidation loans. The FFEL Program ended in 2010, so if you borrowed before that time, there’s a chance you have these types of loans.

Even if you have a single FFEL Consolidation Loan, you can still reconsolidate if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • You are in default or delinquency and agree to repay the new Direct Consolidation Loan under an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan.

  • You are consolidating to qualify for PSLF, even if you don’t currently have a public service job.

  • You are consolidating to use the “no accrual of interest benefit” for active-duty service members.

Related: How to Consolidate FFEL Loans to Direct Loans

How to apply: To consolidate your Navient FFEL Program loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan, visit the Federal Student Aid website, StudentAid.gov. Sign in using your FSA ID, and complete the Direct Consolidation Loan application. Select the FFEL loans you want to consolidate and submit your application electronically.

SAVE Plan eligibility: Once you consolidate your Navient FFEL loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan, you become eligible for the SAVE Plan. This income-driven repayment plan offers lower monthly payments and loan forgiveness after 10 years if you originally borrowed less than $12,000.

When forgiveness starts: The forgiveness options for consolidated FFEL loans are ongoing. After you consolidate, the U.S. Department of Education will review your account for credit under the one-time IDR account adjustment. You may qualify for:

  • PSLF: If you have 10 years of full-time work with a qualifying employer.

  • SAVE Plan forgiveness: If you borrowed $12,000 or less and have been in repayment for 10 years.

  • IDR Plan forgiveness: If you’ve had your loans for at least 20 years.

How much loan cancellation: All three programs will eliminate your remaining balance. The amount forgiven is tax free through 2025.

Current status: The opportunity to consolidate your Navient FFEL Program loans and benefit from the IDR account adjustment and potential PSLF eligibility is ongoing. But the one-time IDR account adjustment ends on June 30, 2024. To take advantage of this benefit, submit your Direct Consolidation Loan application by that date.

Other Navient Student Loan Debt Relief Settlements

While Navient’s private student loan forgiveness program is the focus of this article, the company has also been involved in other student loan debt relief settlements.

These settlements, which are separate from the current program, resulted from lawsuits alleging unfair and deceptive practices by Navient. They provide relief to specific groups of borrowers and offer context about the company’s past actions.

Navient State Attorneys General Debt Cancellation

What it was: A debt cancellation program resulting from a settlement between Navient and 39 state attorneys general in January 2022. The settlement aimed to provide relief to thousands of borrowers affected by Navient’s alleged unfair and deceptive practices.

Background on the lawsuit: In 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and several state attorneys general filed lawsuits against Navient, claiming that the company steered borrowers towards forbearance instead of income-driven repayment plans, which could have helped them manage their debt more effectively.

Settlement terms: As part of the settlement, Navient agreed to:

  • Cancel $1.7 billion in private student loan debt for approximately 66,000 borrowers

  • Pay $95 million in restitution to 350,000 federal student loan borrowers who were placed in long-term forbearance

Who was eligible: Under the settlement, borrowers were eligible for debt cancellation if:

  • They had private student loans originated by Sallie Mae (Navient’s predecessor) between 2002 and 2014

  • Their loans were in default and had been charged off

Borrowers who qualified for debt cancellation under the settlement should have received notices from Navient in the mail.

How it relates to the private student loan forgiveness program: While the lawsuit settlement and debt cancellation are separate from Navient’s private student loan forgiveness program, they provide important context about the company’s past practices and the challenges borrowers have faced. The settlement demonstrates a growing recognition of the need for debt relief and the importance of holding student loan servicers accountable for their actions.

Current status: Ended. The debt cancellation program resulting from the settlement with 39 state attorneys general has concluded. Borrowers are no longer able to apply for relief through this specific settlement.

Navient Bankruptcy Settlement

What it was: A nationwide bankruptcy settlement between Navient and a group of about 4,600 private student loan borrowers who alleged that the company violated their legal rights by continuing efforts to collect on debts that were discharged in bankruptcy.

Background on the class action lawsuit: The borrowers, whose loans exceeded their college tuition costs, filed a class action lawsuit against Navient, claiming that the company improperly tried to collect on debts that had been discharged in bankruptcy.

Settlement terms: In July 2023, after six years of litigation, Navient agreed to a settlement worth $198 million. Under the terms of the settlement, Navient will:

  • Forego collecting approximately $182 million worth of debt from the class members

  • Pay $16 million to compensate class members and cover litigation costs

  • Take steps to help remove the discharged debts from borrowers’ credit reports

Significance of the settlement: This settlement establishes a legitimate bankruptcy pathway for private student loan borrowers in financial distress. It provides meaningful relief to thousands of borrowers who were improperly forced to pay back loan amounts that had been discharged in bankruptcy.

How it relates to other Navient settlements: The bankruptcy settlement in the Eastern District of New York comes just weeks after Navient reached another nationwide bankruptcy court deal in Nebraska. In the June 2023 agreement, Navient agreed to stop collecting on about $54 million worth of discharged private student loans related to unaccredited higher education programs and pay up to $28 million in damages.

Current status: Ended. The nationwide bankruptcy settlement, filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York in July 2023, has been finalized and implemented. Eligible borrowers should have received notifications about the relief they were entitled to under the settlement terms last year.

Bottom Line

Navient’s private student loan forgiveness program offers a valuable opportunity for eligible borrowers to find relief from their debt burden. By understanding the eligibility requirements, application process, and potential outcomes, you can maximize your chances of success.

If you’re unsure about your eligibility or need assistance navigating the complexities of the program, consider booking a one-on-one consultation with one of our experienced student loan lawyers.

Our team is dedicated to helping borrowers like you explore your options and find the best path forward. Don’t hesitate to reach out – we’re here to support you every step of the way.

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