Nelnet Student Loans: 5 Features to Know About

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Nelnet is one of the biggest names in the student loan industry — especially since 2018, when it acquired another major loan servicer, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services. The combined company now reportedly handles federal loans for about 6 million people, or nearly 2% of the entire U.S. population.

If you’ve found that Nelnet is also your federal student loan servicer, then it’s worth taking a moment to learn about some of the options you have as you tackle repayment. Whether you’re pursuing a Nelnet interest rate reduction or worried about your Nelnet 1098-E come tax time, read on for the full rundown.

Nelnet student loans: The basics

If you’re just beginning to navigate the student loan industry or trying to get a handle on your debt, it’s helpful to understand how that debt is managed. Student loan borrowers collectively owe more than $1.6 trillion in student debt, according to our student debt statistics, and the Department of Education works with 10 companies and organizations to service that debt.

Nelnet is one of those firms, and it’s currently contracted through December 2021, as the Department of Education welcomes new federal loan servicers into the fold.

As a loan servicer, Nelnet administers student loan debt by processing payments, generating statements and communicating with borrowers. Nelnet provides these services on behalf of third-party lenders, and it also extends (or “owns”) some student debt itself, as some lenders have sold their student loans to Nelnet.

5 Nelnet features you should know about

If Nelnet is your loan servicer, you might already be aware that you can view and manage your account on Nelnet’s website and mobile app. You can also, of course, communicate with the company via phone, email or online chat.

But here are five other things you might not know you can do with your Nelnet student loans:

1. Pay by group
2. Nelnet interest rate reductions
3. Get help becoming ‘financially fit’
4. Apply for deferment or forbearance
5. Nelnet 1098-E: Print your tax info

1. Pay by group

One nice feature about Nelnet is that it’s easy to pay your loans by group. For example, you can opt to pay off your highest-interest loans first if you’re pursuing the debt avalanche strategy for repayment.

If you’ve had trouble figuring out how your student loan payments are applied, you’ll be happy to find that the process is relatively easy with Nelnet.

If you want to pay extra on a specific group of loans:

  1. Go to the “Home” page and select the “Make a Payment” tab.
  2. Then go to “Pay Now,” and under “Select Payment Option,” choose “Pay By Group.”
  3. Click on the arrow on the left-hand side to expand the box in order to display all of your loans.

You can then sort your loans by interest rate, balance or due date. On the right-hand side, you can divvy up your payments and start putting more toward certain loans, based on your payoff strategy — just don’t forget to pay at least the minimum on all your loans.

Image: Nelnet

2. Nelnet interest rate reductions

Do you find it difficult to remember when your loan payments are due? One way to ensure you always make on-time payments is by signing up for autopay. Not only will this keep you on track, but — just like with many other servicers and lenders — automating your student loan payments could result in a Nelnet interest rate reduction of 0.25 percentage points.

There are two other possible ways to score a Nelnet interest rate reduction:

Administrative forbearance during the coronavirus pandemic

Because of COVID-19’s effect on the economy, the Department of Education granted a federal student loan repayment freeze, temporarily lowering interest rates to zero. So if you had a qualifying federal loan during this period, this was the most impactful (albeit temporary) Nelnet interest rate reduction available.

Refinance your Nelnet loans to lower your rates

Through student loan refinancing with a private bank, credit union or online lender, you could attempt to qualify for lower interest rates. The trade-off is that your federal, Nelnet-serviced loans would irreversibly become private loans lacking government-exclusive protections like access to income-driven repayment.

This is the more extreme method of pursuing a Nelnet interest rate reduction, and it will require you to have good credit or a creditworthy cosigner. Still, if refinancing is right for you, you could achieve a single monthly payment on top of the potentially lower interest rate (or monthly payment).

Before pursuing a Nelnet interest rate reduction in this fashion, don’t forget to compare consolidation and refinancing.

3. Get help becoming ‘financially fit’

Not only can you manage your student loan payments on Nelnet’s website, but you can also learn a bit about personal finance.

The Nelnet homepage has a Get Financially Fit section, where you can learn about building and maintaining credit, avoiding student loan identity theft and the basics of personal finance and budgeting.

If you need assistance or have questions, you can contact Nelnet account specialists by phone at 888-486-4722 or via email or online chat. Nelnet’s Facebook and Twitter pages also have helpful tips for managing both your student loans and improving your financial health.

4. Apply for deferment or forbearance

If you’re having trouble making payments on your federal student loans, you can apply for deferment or forbearance through the Nelnet site. These options allow you to postpone your loan repayment for certain situations, ranging from job loss and other hardships to going back to school or serving in the military.

The eligibility requirements and terms vary, but options may include unemployment deferment, working mother deferment, parental leave deferment and domestic volunteer deferment. Note, however, that your loans will continue to accrue interest, even as you pause repayment.

To find out if you qualify for deferment or forbearance, you can get started by logging into your account and clicking “Repayment options” to apply. You can also call Nelnet at 888-486-4722 for more information.

5. Nelnet 1098-E: Print your tax info

A common mistake people make is not deducting student loan interest on their taxes. You can deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest on your taxes each year that you’re repaying your student loans.

But where do you even get that Nelnet 1098-E and other paperwork? Using the servicer website, you can find the information in your “Message Center” under “Print My Tax Info.”

You can then print out IRS Form 1098-E from Nelnet, which shows how much you paid in student loan interest. If you paid more than $2,500, however, you can still only deduct up to $2,500.

Student Loan Interest Deduction Calculator

Can someone else claim you as a dependent on their tax return for 2019?

Were payments made on student loans disbursed in your name in 2019?

What was your 2019 Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI)?

How are you filing your taxes for 2019?

How much interest did you pay on your student loans in 2019?

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Nelnet FAQs

Finally, here are some frequently asked questions about Nelnet and its loan-servicing operations.

Is Nelnet good for student loans?

As one of the largest student loan servicers in the industry, Nelnet definitely gets its share of complaints registered with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB). And like many other servicers, Nelnet has also been the subject of borrower lawsuits, including a recent one over loan forgiveness.

That said, however, Nelnet enjoys a better reputation than some rival student loan servicers.

While we’re on the subject, note that the servicers aren’t the only source of trouble for borrowers — student loan scams are a constant danger for anyone with school debt. Be wary about anything that sounds too good to be true, and if you receive a suspicious offer, file a complaint online or by calling the CFPB at 855-411-2372. You can also contact the office of your state’s attorney general.

Can Nelnet student loans be forgiven?

As a loan servicer, Nelnet administers loans of lenders, and therefore it isn’t able to forgive your loans. However, under government guidelines, some borrowers may qualify for federal student loan forgiveness, such as working for the government or a nonprofit, or by reaching the end of an income-driven repayment plan.

Does Nelnet consolidate student loans?

The Department of Education allows borrowers to consolidate multiple federal student loans into one single loan via the direct consolidation loan program and choose their servicer. Nelnet doesn’t consolidate your loans per se, but it is one of the eligible servicers that can administer your newly consolidated loan.

Is Nelnet a direct student loan program?

As described above, Nelnet offers several different types of service: It loans money directly to students and acts as the servicer for those accounts, services some federal loans from the Department of Education and also provides customer services for third-party lenders. In some instances, lenders have sold their outstanding loans to Nelnet; in this case, the company both owns and services those accounts.

Make Nelnet student loans work for you

As you work to manage your finances and juggle your student loan payments, it’s helpful to have a strong student loan servicer in your corner. Nelnet offers the latest in online, mobile, text and phone customer service to support its borrowers, and its website offers resources and information to better manage debt and improve your personal finances.

At the same time, the complaints referenced in this article show that Nelnet, like other servicers, isn’t perfect, so be sure to speak up if you think they’ve dropped the ball.

Andrew Pentis and Alli Romano contributed to this report.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.89% – 6.66%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.89% – 5.90%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.25% – 6.09%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.99% – 5.34%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.97% – 8.54%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.39% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of October 1, 2020.


2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of December 1, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.18% plus 2.32% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. 

4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


5 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 11/13/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.97% to 8.54% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.