Q: Are Navient student loans eligible for student loan forgiveness?

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Navient is the loan servicer for both federal student loans and private student loans. Only the federal student loans it services qualify for student loan forgiveness. There are no loan forgiveness options for the private student loans Navient owns or services.

Your only option to eliminate some of the interest and fees that have accrued on your private loans is to negotiate a payoff of the remaining balance.

Navient was created by Sallie Mae to handle the loan servicing for the federal student loans that Sallie Mae used to service before a change in the law prevented them from doing so.

Click here to learn Should I Refinance My Navient Student Loans

You can find out what type of loans you have by checking the U.S. Department of Education's studentaid.gov.

The studentaid.gov website will show you:

  • the loan program the federal student loans you have were made under (Direct Loans, Plus Loans, FFEL Loans, Perkins Loans, etc.)
  • the type of Federal Student Aid (FSA) you received (loans, grants, etc.)
  • the remaining balance due on your loans
  • the interest rate for reach loan
  • the status of the loan (in deferment, in a repayment plan, in default, etc.)

You can also use that site to find out how to apply for the various loan forgiveness programs offered by the federal government.

Or you could just keep reading this post. I'll go over the 4 main loan forgiveness programs for your Navient student loans that are federal:

  1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
  2. Teacher Loan Forgiveness
  3. Total and Permanent Disability Forgiveness
  4. Repayment Plan Forgiveness

#1 Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program

Depending on the type of federal loans you have, the PSLF program will forgive some or all of your student debt.

You're eligible for this program if:

  • you work full-time for a qualified employer (government or non-profit organization)
  • you make 120 qualifying payments under a qualified student loan repayment plan
  • you have loans made under the Direct Loan program

The last part is key.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program only forgives loans made under the Direct Loan program. That includes:

  • Direct Consolidation Loans both subsidized and unsubsidized and
  • Direct Parent Plus Loans including Direct Parent Plus Consolidation Loan
So if you looked at your Navient student loans and saw that some are FFEL or Perkins Loans, those loans don't qualify for this student loan forgiveness program. To get those loans to qualify, look into consolidating your loans into a Direct Loan Consolidation.

Qualified repayment plans are any of the income-driven repayment plans (IDR plans):

  • the Revised Pay As You Earn plan (REPAYE)
  • the Pay As You Earn plan (PAYE)
  • the Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR)
  • the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR)

Each of these repayment options has its pros and cons depending on if you're married and how you file taxes. The key thing is to choose the option that's going to give you the lowest student loan payments month after month, year after year. After all, if you're going to get your loans forgiven, why pay more than necessary?

If you qualify for PSLF, Navient will send your loans to FedLoan Servicing. The Department of Education hired FedLoan to be the sole student loan servicer for all PSLF student loan borrowers.

Click here to learn How to Get Student Loan Forgiveness After 10 Years

Repayment Plan Student Loan Forgiveness

Getting your Navient student loans forgiven at the end of one of the income-driven repayment programs is the most common forgiveness program for most student loan borrowers.

Here's how this program works:

  • you choose an income-driven repayment plan (REPAYE, PAYE, IBR, or ICR)
  • you make your monthly payments (240-300 on-time payments)
  • at the end of the repayment term (20/25 years) your remaining loan amount is forgiven.

While getting your loan balance forgiven is great, there are two problems.

First, depending on your monthly payment amounts, you may end up paying way more than you originally borrowed.

Second, the federal government will treat the amount forgiven as taxable income, which means you may end up with a huge tax bill at the end of the repayment term.

Are those enough of a reason to not take advantage of this program? I don't think so. But it's not me that has to make the payments or pay the taxes.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Navient student loans are also eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. But obviously, in order to qualify, you have to be a teacher. On top of that, you have to teach full-time at a low-income school or educational service agency.

Depending on how much student loan debt you have, the PSLF program may be better for you long term. There's no cap to how much of your federal student debt can be forgiven.

With the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, there is a cap. It's less than $20 thousand.

Of course, you can qualify for both. But the way the program is set up, the time doesn't run together. You'll spend 5 years working towards getting the TLFP forgiveness, and another 10 years after that to get the PSLF forgiveness.

If it were me, I'd rather just get the PSLF forgiveness and be done.

Click here to read How Educators Can Get the Student Loan Forgiveness They Deserve

Total and Permanent Disability Forgiveness

You can get loan forgiveness for your Navient Student Loans if a medical professional considers you to be totally and permanently disabled.

There are 3 ways to qualify for the TPD program:

  • Your doctor completes an application confirming you're totally and permanently disabled
  • You have a 100% disability rating from the VA or
  • The Social Security Administration says that you're totally and permanently disabled and your next medical review is at least 5 years from now.

After you submit your loan discharge application, it takes about 6-8 weeks to get a decision as to whether your loan balance will be forgiven or not. If your application is denied, you'll have an opportunity to correct the reason for the denial.

Private student loan options

Honestly, you don't have many options to deal with Navient student loans that are private.

You can ask Navient for a forbearance or an interest rate reduction payment plan. But all that does is cause you and your cosigner to keep paying towards a debt that's doing nothing but growing.

Sure, those payments protect your credit score from taking a hit. But the balance is going nowhere but up.

The other option is to look into refinancing the loans with another lender.

Doing that makes sense if two things are true:

  • you get a lower interest rate and
  • you get better repayment terms (longer years, income-based repayment options, etc.)

The trouble you may find though, especially with this COVID/coronavirus pandemic and pending recession, is that it may be hard to find a lender willing to refinance your debt. (Keep in mind, you'll usually need a credit score above 740 to get the best repayment terms.)

Over the past several months, I've witnessed more and more banks leave the student loan refinancing space. Will that change when the pandemic ends? Probably so, there's a lot of money to be made in refinancing higher education loans.

Because of those issues, oftentimes, the best thing to do when you can't afford your private student loans is to negotiate a student loan settlement.

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I'm a student loan lawyer that helps people like you with their federal and private student loans wherever they live.

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