*Updated January 30, 2020
If you’ve taken out federal student loans to finance your education (like I did) and you have Navient as your loan servicer, make sure that you know where you stand in terms of your Navient student loans and learn about your repayment options. This is critical if you want to put your best “financial” foot forward and be in control of your student loans.
Here’s what you need to know to manage your Navient student loans.
1. What is Navient?
The U.S. Department of Education is your lender, but federal loans are serviced by nine loan servicing organizations/companies assigned to help the government manage the billing and other services for your loan.
Navient is one of the largest student servicers, handling $300 billion in student loans and serving 12 million borrowers, of which more than 6 million are federal student loan borrowers. Navient was spun off as a separate company from Sallie Mae in 2014.
You could have more than one loan servicer if you have multiple loans. To confirm, check the National Student Loan Data System.
2. Navient Login – How to create an online account to manage your Navient student loans?
The process is easy. To sign up for Online Access, go to the “Create an Account” page and fill in the required information, including your name, email address, birthdate, and Navient account number or social security number. For password tips and other technical information, check here.
Once you’ve set up an account, or if you already have an online account, you can log in via the “Loan Customer Log In” box.
This online portal makes it easy for you to review and manage your account. You can:
- Get your loan balances;
- See the interest rates being charged;
- Make your payments; and
- Update your personal information.
You can also get other helpful information on the website, including information for new users.
3. How to contact Navient customer service?
You can phone, email, fax and/or mail Navient.
Mon-Thurs 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM (ET)Friday 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM (ET)
|International||317-806-0580 (Use this only if the toll-free # is not available, as you will be charged for the call.)|
- Email: Log in to send a secure email.
- Fax or mail
|Fax #Returning/verifying documents||866-266-0178 |
|International Fax #||001-570-706-8563|
|Payments only||Navient – U.S. Department of Education Loan Servicing |
P.O. Box 4450
Portland, OR 97208-4450NOTE: This is the new payment address as of March 2019.
|General correspondence||Navient – U.S. Department of Education Loan Servicing |
P.O. Box 9635
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773-9635
4. What if you have a problem with Navient?
If you have Navient as your loan servicer, you are not alone in thinking you have cause to be worried.
Navient gets just one star — out of five — for overall satisfaction, based on 50 ratings submitted to Consumer Affairs.
In the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report issued in October 2019, Navient ranked highest in both federal student loan complaints (1,658 complaints, constituting 39% of total complaints) and private student loans (1,319 complaints, constituting 57% of total complaints) for the 12 months starting on September 1, 2018 and ending on August 31, 2019.
In addition, Navient has been sued by members of the American Federation of Teachers, for allegedly misleading borrowers about loan forgiveness, as well as by five U.S. states — California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington and Mississippi — for practices that allegedly led to students paying more than they should have. The CFPB also sued Navient in January 2017, alleging that “Navient has failed to perform its core duties in the servicing of student loans.”
Unfortunately, you can’t change loan servicers assigned to you — not unless you refinance, a decision that you need to weigh thoroughly, as you will lose the benefits of federal student loans.
So, what should you do if you have questions, concerns or issues with loans serviced by Navient?
Contact Navient right away by phone, email, fax and/or mail.
If Navient cannot or does not resolve your problem, or you disagree with the resolution, you should contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group. You can also file a complaint with Federal Student Aid and/or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
At all times, it would help if you have identified the nature of your loan problem and have documented all the details, including notes of phone conversations, identity of Navient representatives, etc.
5. What’s the best way to deal effectively with Navient?
The Department of Education has provided several tips on this, including keeping careful notes of conversations, following up in writing after a conversation, keeping copies of correspondence and replies sent by mail, sending letters by certified mail, and more.
6. What are the payment methods?
You can make your Navient payments in many ways, including Auto Pay and by mail. Before you proceed, know that you can choose a payment date that works best for you.
- If you choose Auto Pay, your loan payments will be automatically deducted from your checking or savings account on your due date each month, even if your due date falls on a weekend or holiday. But you will save 0.25% using this method. To avoid missing a payment, be sure to send a payment using other methods until Navient confirms you are set up for Auto Pay.
- Paying online is the most flexible option. Be sure to schedule your payment for a business day, even if your payment falls on a weekend, so your payment is not considered late.
- You can also pay by phone by calling 800-722-1300 or using the international number. You should have your 10-digit account number handy for the call.
- If you prefer to send your payment by mail, make your check or money order payable to Navient. Be sure to include your remittance slip and your account number on the check or money order. If you have any special instructions, you should submit them on a separate piece of paper, as Navient won’t consider instructions on the check itself or the remittance slip. Mail your payment to the designated address for payment (see contact info above). Your payment should be mailed at least 5-7 business days before your due date to ensure receipt by due date.
- For payment by third-party bill-pay services, be sure that they have the correct mailing address (same as for payment by mail above). The downside of using this method is that you will still need to contact Navient directly if you have additional instructions.
When Navient receives a payment, it is applied first to outstanding interest and late fees, if any, and then to the principal balance.
If you have multiple loans serviced by Navient, you may receive one consolidated statement for all of them because Navient may group them together in a “Billing Group,” in which case, you can make one payment to cover those loans. If you prefer not to have your loans grouped together, you should call Navient and have the loans separated.
7. Should you make extra payments?
If you have extra money in your budget, the answer is definitely YES. This will help you pay off your loans faster and save you money.
You can make extra payments online, by phone, or by mail.
Note that Navient uses the term “Overpayment” for extra payment, so that’s the term you will see in your statement or on its website.
8. How do you ensure that Navient correctly allocates your extra payments?
Extra payments are automatically applied to the principal balance. If you have multiple Navient loans, however, extra payments will be allocated and applied based on the types of loans you have, the interest rates for those loans, and whether you are in default. Check here for various scenarios and payment examples.
For maximum benefit, though, you should target the extra payments to loans with higher interest rates, loans with high balances, or unsubsidized loans — whichever will save you more money in the long run. Use this Loan Repayment Calculator to help you figure out how much you can save.
Be sure to provide special payment instructions if you want to target certain loans. You can do that online for your online payments as well as for payments made over the phone or by mail. For payments made by mail, you need to submit special payment instructions on a separate piece of paper.
You can always change your target preference. And Navient will alert you if your preference is no longer viable — for example, when a loan is paid in full or transferred.
9. What are your repayment options?
Although you make your payments to Navient, it is the Department of Education that provides the repayment options. Your options may vary by the type of loan you have.
Here are the standard repayment options:
- Standard Repayment Plan: This plan saves you the most money because it allows you to pay off your loan most quickly — within 10 years if you have unconsolidated loans, and within 10-30 years if you have consolidated loans. However, since the fixed monthly payments are higher, this is not a viable option for borrowers seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). By the way, this will be your default option if you don’t choose a repayment plan.
- Graduated Repayment Plan: With this plan, you will start with low monthly payments that will increase every two years. You pay off your loan within 10 years if you have unconsolidated loans, and within 10-30 years if you have consolidated loans. This plan may be a good fit for borrowers whose current income is low but expect an increase over time. It’s generally not an option for those seeking PSLF.
- Extended Fixed Repayment Plan: If you need to lower your monthly payments, this plan gives you the option to extend your payment period up to 25 years. You will have a fixed monthly payment. To qualify, your outstanding loan amounts must be more than $30,000. This plan is not an option for those seeking PSLF.
- Extended Graduated Repayment Plan: This plan also gives you the option to extend your payment period up to 25 years, but your lower monthly payments increase over time. To qualify, your outstanding loan amounts must be more than $30,000. This plan is not an option for those seeking PSLF.
Additionally, there are four income-driven repayment plans (IDR), in which payments are based on a percentage of the borrower’s discretionary income. The percentage varies based on the plan. Payments for all four IDR plans are recalculated each year and are based on your updated income and family size, so you must update your income and family size each year (even if there are no changes). IDR plans are good options for those seeking PSLF, which forgives the remaining balance on Direct Loans after borrowers have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.
- Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE) Income Sensitive Repayment: Your monthly payments are generally 10% of your discretionary income. If you haven’t paid back your undergraduate loans in full after 20 years, or your graduate or professional study loans after 25 years, the outstanding balance will be forgiven, but you may have to pay taxes on the amount forgiven.
- Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE): Your monthly payments will be 10% of discretionary income, but will not exceed what you would have paid under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan. If you haven’t paid back your loan in full after 20 years, the outstanding balance will be forgiven, but you may have to pay taxes on the amount forgiven.
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR): The percentage depends on whether you’re considered a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014, or not. If you are a “new borrower,” your monthly payments are generally 10% of your discretionary income. If you’re not, your monthly payments will be 15% of your discretionary income. If you haven’t paid back your loan in full after 20 or 25 years (depending on when you receive the loan), the outstanding balance will be forgiven, but you may have to pay taxes on the amount forgiven.
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR): Your monthly payments will be the lower of 20% of your discretionary income or the amount you would pay under a fixed repayment plan over 12 years. If you haven’t paid back your loan in full after 25 years, the outstanding balance will be forgiven, but you may have to pay taxes on the amount forgiven.
If any of the IDR plans will make your student loan debt more manageable, you can apply to the Department of Education at StudentLoans.gov to enroll and to update your income and family size, once annually.
Before you choose a repayment plan, though, you should use the government’s Repayment Estimator to help you figure out what your approximate monthly payment would be.
10. What if you’re having trouble paying back your loans?
Get in touch with Navient right away if you’re struggling to make your monthly payments. You don’t want a situation where your loan becomes delinquent or in default, because it will affect your credit score.
An account is “delinquent” the day after a first missed payment, and is deemed “in default” when it is 270 days delinquent. So, if you miss one or two payments, your loan is delinquent. But if you miss several payments, your loan will be at risk of default.
If you have money for your monthly payments but you forget, simply changing your method of payment to Auto Pay will ensure timely payments.
If you can’t afford your monthly payments, however, you need to check into lowering your monthly payments. Here are a few options:
- You can apply for IDR plans, which are based on your income, family size and state of residence, at StudentLoans.gov. To find out what’s the best IDR plan for you, you should have your loan details — current loan balances, loan program and interest rate of each loan, and how many months you have been repaying your loan — available. Reminder — more details are in the “repayment options” section.
- If you have multiple federal loans, you can apply to consolidate some or all of the loans into a single loan called a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan through StudentLoans.gov. In your application, be sure to note if you are interested in PSLF. The consolidated loan will bear a fixed interest rate based on the average of the interest rates on the loans being consolidated. There is NO application fee. Once consolidated, you will have a single monthly payment to make for all the loans you consolidated. Check out the potential advantages and disadvantages before you apply for consolidation.
- Another option is to refinance your loans through private lenders. Refinancing, like consolidation, allows you to roll multiple loans into one loan. Your interest rate is typically determined by your credit score. The caveat: borrowers who refinance federal student loans lose benefits provided by federal loans, including access to IDR plans that may qualify them for loan forgiveness after 10, 20 or 25 years of payments.
If you’re in a situation where you need to postpone your monthly payments temporarily, you have two options: deferment or forbearance. Both programs could have a major impact on the amount you have to pay back. Neither program is ideal, particularly if you’re working towards loan forgiveness as it may delay the time it takes to qualify for loan forgiveness. A better option may be to apply for IDR plans instead.
The bottom line
To ensure compliance with your loan obligations and for maximum savings, you should learn the terms of each of your federal loans. And don’t hesitate to contact Navient if you have any questions, issues or concerns.
Susan Chu is a writer and editor who likes to write about trends in higher education.