The Important Difference Between Sallie Mae and Navient

If you have student loans, managing your debt is difficult enough on its own. But sometimes, something as simple as figuring out who services your loans becomes unnecessarily complicated.

Navient and Sallie Mae are two companies that are often confused as one. But they are distinct and separate entities. Find out more about Navient and Sallie Mae and how you can find out who services your debt.

What is Sallie Mae?

If you’re going to school, federal loans are typically the first place you turn to for help paying your tuition and expenses. But if you exhaust federal loan options or are looking for different repayment terms, private loans can be a helpful option to fill the gap and pay for your education. One of the most well-known private loan companies is Sallie Mae.

Sallie Mae is a student loan company that has been providing loans for over 40 years. The company offers private undergraduate, graduate, and career training loans to qualified individuals. Eligible borrowers can receive loans to cover 100 percent of their education costs.

For years, Sallie Mae also managed federal loans. However, in 2010, the government passed new legislation that prohibited private banks from servicing federal loans. The new rules caused Sallie Mae to change its business model.

The connection between Sallie Mae and Navient

In 2014, Sallie Mae announced the launch of an offshoot company called Navient. Sallie Mae split their business into two separate, publicly traded entities. Sallie Mae would handle the disbursement and management of private loans and Navient would be a whole new loan management and servicing company for federal loans.

What is Navient?

Navient operates independently from Sallie Mae as an entirely different company. One of Navient’s key focuses is on building financial relationships with customers, helping individuals manage their debt and make wise decisions about their finances.

With Navient, people with federal loans have access to benefits like income-driven repayment plans, deferment, or forbearance. Qualifying individuals can sign up for income-based repayment, income-contingent repayment, Pay As You Earn, or Revised Pay As You Earn plans.

If you lose your job or go through a financial hardship, you can defer your payments or put them into forbearance. That approach allows you to postpone your payments without racking up late fees or entering collections.

The transition from Sallie Mae to Navient

Some people had both Sallie Mae and Navient as their servicers for the same loans. If you took out federal loans prior to 2014, you may have originally taken them out from Sallie Mae.

But as of Oct. 13, 2014, Sallie Mae shifted all federal loans to Navient. That switch did not affect borrowers’ loan terms or repayment options, but it still confused some customers who missed the original memo.

It’s not an uncommon practice for your loan servicer to change in the middle of your repayment term. If you miss the notification, you could log into your account one day to find your debt missing. But don’t get excited; that doesn’t mean your loans went away. It just went to a new company.

Finding your servicer

If you’re not sure who your loan servicer is or if you can’t figure out if it’s Sallie Mae or Navient, you have a few options.

One of the best resources to check is the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).  The NSLDS is a national database that tracks your federal student loans. It stores all of your information in one place, so you can access it whenever you need it.

To find your loans, just click on “Financial Aid Review.” The site will ask you to log in with your username or Federal Student Aid ID. Once you log into the system, it will break down what types of loans you have, what the loan balance is, and who your loan servicer is for each one.

navient sallie mae

If you have private loans or your loans are not showing up on NSLDS, you can also find your servicer by checking your credit report. You can get a free credit report at, which will list all of your debts and who services them.

If you find out your loans are with Navient, Sallie’s Mae’s offshoot company, you can manage your loans, make payments, and apply for repayment options directly on the Navient website.

Managing your student loans

Knowing your servicer is essential in handling your debt. While Sallie Mae and Navient are frequently confused, they are separate and distinct companies, so it’s important to know which company you are working with before making payments.

For more information about managing your loans and paying them off faster, check out our ultimate guide to paying off student loans faster.

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