Every year, Nelnet loans make it possible for students to realize their educational dreams and graduate from college. But your relationship with Nelnet doesn’t end there.
As with all important relationships, it pays to understand as much about your student loan servicer as possible. If your servicer is Nelnet, here’s what you need to know.
What is Nelnet?
Nelnet is a student loan servicer based in Lincoln, Nebraska whose mission is to make educational dreams possible. While lenders put up the money for a student loan, servicers such as Nelnet handle the payment arrangements for student loans, allowing students to pursue their academic goals.
Nelnet currently helps more than 5 million borrowers as the borrowers repay their student loans.
As a student loan servicer, it’s Nelnet’s responsibility to ensure that its customers are able to successfully pay off their student loans. That means if you can’t afford your monthly payment, you can work with Nelnet to figure out an income repayment plan that can accommodate your budget.
If Nelnet is servicing your federal student loans, they can also help you sign up for federal benefits such as deferment, forbearance, or income-driven repayment plans, or provide access to private loans through a partnership with the company U-Fi.
How Nelnet can help you with your student loans
One of the biggest benefits of having Nelnet as your student loan servicer is convenience — Nelnet has a number of different repayment plans to suit various needs, along with other borrower benefits.
Nelnet repayment plans
Nelnet offers borrowers several types of repayment plans:
The Standard repayment plan spreads payments equally over your payment term
With graduated repayment, the payments increase over time, making it a good option for those who expect to make more money in future years, since they will be able to pay more as their salary increases over the year
Extended repayment plans give you more time to pay off the loans by letting you increase the repayment term on your loans
Income-sensitive repayment plans can be used with Federal Family Education Loans (FFELP), allowing you to adjust the minimum payment to accommodate your income for up to five years.
Income-driven repayment plans let you adjust your minimum payments based on your income, ensuring that you never have to pay more than you can afford.
Remember though, that extending your payments over a longer period of time will result in paying more over the life of the loan.
If you’re interested in a repayment plan that extends your loan term, you’ll need to weigh the benefit of potentially having more disposable income now versus paying a greater amount in interest over the life of the loan.
If you can afford to pay off your Nelnet loans faster, you may want to do so.
Choose how to pay and other Nelnet benefits
With Nelnet, you can choose how you’d like to make your monthly payments, from a variety of options, and also benefit from other perks such as:
How are my loan payments allocated?
Payments are first allocated towards loan groups or individual loans that are past due. After that, money goes across loan groups based on each group’s current monthly payment amount.
If you want to pay more towards a particular loan or group you have to provide instructions to do so. If not, any extra money will simply be allocated across all of the loans and loan groups.
One way to pay the least amount of money over the course of your loan is to designate that extra money be paid to the loan group with the highest interest rate. Then once those higher interest rate loans are paid off, you can designate that more money goes to the other loans.
The payment itself is allocated toward each loan or loan group in the following manner: Payment goes toward fees first, then interest, and then the principal.
Whether you make more than the minimum payments or not, you should avoid late payments at all costs. Not only might late payments be reported to credit reporting agencies and cause a dip in your credit score, but you could be charged late fees, which will just add to the amount of money you will have to pay for your loan.
Also, if you skip a payment or make less than the minimum payment, you could end up with multiple loans or loan groups being delinquent.
How to pay off your student loans faster
Here are some ways you can tackle your student loans faster.
Nelnet loan forgiveness and other benefits
Here’s where we come to what every borrower really wants to know — is there a way for you to get out of paying for your student loan?
The answer is yes…sort of….
If you have a private loan, you may be out of luck, but if you have a Federal Student loan there may be some options for you.
If you work in a public service field (such as government, law enforcement or public education), you may be eligible for Nelnet student loan forgiveness.
There are dozens of loan forgiveness programs out there, targeted at different demographics and types of borrowers. Here are just some examples:
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program: Certain federal loans, including Direct Stafford Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans forgive your remaining loan balance after you’ve made 120 qualifying payments while working full-time for certain employers. To qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you must complete and submit an Employment Certification form to the Department of Education.
The Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers: This program forgives up to $17,500 in student loan principal and interest, once teachers have taught full-time typically at schools in low-income neighborhoods for five consecutive years.
Disability Discharge: If you become disabled and are no longer able to work, you may qualify for a disability discharge, which means you would not be obligated to finish paying off your student loan.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): If you’re a member of the military, the SCRA limits interest on federal student loans taken out before military service to 6% or less. Some loans also allow members of the military to pay 0 % interest if they are currently serving in a hostile area.
The HEROES Act Waiver for Income-Driven Repayment Plan Certification for Service Members: Members of the military or their families can request an extension on the lower payments on an income-driven repayment plan if they are serving the country.
What if you can’t pay your student loans?
So what happens if you find that you can’t pay your loans? Nelnet wants to help you succeed, so you should contact them immediately if you’re having trouble making your payments.
If you have federal loans, you may be able to postpone your payments through deferment or forbearance options. But which is right for you?
- With a deferment, you get a temporary break from making payments. If you have subsidized loans, you won’t be charged interest during the break, but if you have unsubsidized loans, interest will still be accruing. You’d be surprised at the types of deferments that are available. You may be able to get a deferment for such reasons as economic hardship, military deployment, working in an internship, and even caring for a newborn or newly adopted child.
- With forbearance, you may be eligible to postpone payments — however, interest will accrue during that period. For that reason, it’s a good idea to continue to make payments on the interest if you can, even while you’re not making payments on the principal.
If you have a private loan, you should contact the lender, as they may have procedures in place to help you temporarily if you have trouble paying your bills.
How to contact Nelnet
As you work to pay down your student loans, you should think of Nelnet as your ally. Make sure you contact them immediately if you have a problem making a Nelnet student loan payment or even if you have a question about the loan repayment process.
You can call Nelnet 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-486-4722, fax them at 877-402-5816, contact them using an online form on their website, or send them mail at:
P.O. Box 82561
Lincoln, NE 68501-2561
While many people think of student loans as a necessary evil, it’s better to think of them as a tool that can help you to achieve your educational goals. Nelnet can help you to get through the repayment process as smoothly and effectively as possible.