Navient continues to be in the news, as the student loan servicer has tangled in court with several states, the American Federation of Teachers and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Endless borrower complaints allege that Navient failed to process payments correctly and inform borrowers about their repayment options. If Navient services your student loans, there are steps you can take to avoid these issues. If you want a new servicer, then your options include consolidating your federal student loans, applying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or refinancing into a private student loan.
Navient Student Loan Review
Navient is one of the most well-known student loan servicers, as it's widely used by the U.S. Department of Education and has been involved in a number of lawsuits. The lawsuits contend that Navient allegedly pushed borrowers into declaring forbearance, didn't properly inform borrowers about student loan forgiveness and more manageable repayment plans, misallocated payments, and charged unjustified fees. Most of these cases are ongoing and have yet to be resolved.
Overall, Navient has received the most borrower complaints compared to the other primary student loan servicers that the government uses. Our study found that Navient received 544 complaints for every 1 million customers through the CFPB between March 2017 and 2018, while all the other servicers received less than half that amount. Even so, Navient has managed to receive an A- rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), meaning the company likely responds well to borrower complaints on the website.
If you are having trouble with Navient as your servicer, you have a few options. If you want to keep your federal loans, you can try consolidating them to get a new loan servicer, or you can transfer your loans to FedLoan if you qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. However, the most effective way to change servicers is to refinance your student loans. But before taking that step, try to first resolve the issues with Navient. Once those loans are private, you can't change them back to federal loans, and you'll lose certain payment options and protections. If you've tried everything, then you should consider refinancing your loans.
Repayment With Navient Student Loans
Student loan borrowers can use Navient's online portal and app to make payments, check their activity and balances, and access account resources. You can also sign up for automatic payments, but you should still monitor your balance periodically, especially since borrowers complained that Navient charged unjustified fees. If you prefer not to make payments online, you have the option to send checks to the company.
If your federal student loans are serviced by Navient, you will be automatically enrolled in the standard repayment plan. However, you have other options to choose from, depending on your loan type. These options include income-driven repayment plans, extended repayment, graduated repayment and income-sensitive repayment. Check your options before choosing one to see which works best with your current income and budget. If you have a private loan serviced by Navient, you will have to check the repayment options that your lender offers.
How to Switch to a New Student Loan Servicer
When you take out federal loans, the Department of Education assigns you a loan servicer. The only ways to switch your federal loan servicer is if you qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or the TEACH grant programs, in which your loans will be serviced by FedLoan. Or, your loan servicer may change if you consolidate your student loans. Otherwise, the best way to change your student loan servicer is to refinance your loan to a private lender. Here are some of the best refinancing options available.
Before you refinance to get away from Navient: Keep in mind that when you refinance with a private lender, you will lose federal repayment options, student loan forgiveness, deferment and forbearance. Some of these private lenders may offer similar policies, but the processes may be carried out differently. We don't encourage refinancing your student loans unless you are prepared to lose these options and are ready for potentially higher interest rates.
Earnest stands out for borrowers who want to set their own monthly payments and loan terms. To be eligible, you must be able to qualify without a co-signer and have a minimum credit score of 650. The loans are serviced by Earnest, which has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. It's important to note that the company was acquired by Navient, but the businesses continue to operate separately.
SoFi offers competitive rates and employment help for borrowers, such as career coaches and networking opportunities. The company's loans are serviced by MOHELA, which earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). And compared to other loan servicers, customers have only filed a few complaints against MOHELA through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and BBB.
Similar to Earnest, Discover also services its student loans. This means that instead of your loans being passed to another company, they will be handled only by Discover. Although the lender is not the best in terms of rates, it's a great choice for borrowers who want financial assistance options. Discover offers early repayment, payment extensions and reduced payments to help borrowers stay out of deferment or forbearance.
If you decide to refinance with a private lender, it's possible that you won't receive better service than you get with Navient, as almost all loan servicers receive complaints. A CFPB report from 2017 found that nonfederal student loans tend to receive more complaints as a whole than federal student loans; however, the complaints are not necessarily about the servicers.
Navient Customer Service and How to Submit a Complaint
If you have unresolved issues with Navient and want to file a complaint, check out these websites to report the issues.
FSA Feedback System: The federal student aid feedback system was created by the Department of Education to allow borrowers to report suspicious activity, file complaints and give positive feedback about their student loan experiences. If you want to register a grievance, you will have to fill out an online form to describe the issues you are facing and how you would like them to be resolved. You can attach relevant documents to support your complaint, and the Federal Student Aid office will respond as soon as it can.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): The CFPB is another government website that's separate from the Department of Education, and it allows consumers to file complaints about any company. To file a complaint, you will have to fill out a form to categorize your complaint and describe the issue. According to the CFPB's website, 97% of people who report an issue receive a timely response by the company.
Better Business Bureau (BBB): The Better Business Bureau is a nongovernment website that works to resolve consumer issues with businesses. To file a complaint, you will have to provide your personal details, such as your name, address and email, and then explain the problems you are having with the company. After receiving your report, the BBB will then forward it to the business and request a response within 14 days. If the company fails to respond, the BBB will send another request. Navient has an A- rating on the BBB, indicating that the company gives timely responses.
Before using any of these websites, you should first contact Navient to see if it can resolve your issue. You can contact Navient by phone, mail, fax and through your online account or on the company's social media accounts. Be sure to check the company's website for frequently asked questions and other resources.
Common Problems with Navient Student Loans
Navient has received thousands of complaints on the CFPB and Better Business Bureau websites. However, the student loan servicer is BBB-verified and has received an A- rating, indicating that the lender responds to customer complaints. On the other hand, compared to other student loan servicers, Navient has been in the most lawsuits as a result of countless unresolved issues. The most recent cases were filed by the American Federation of Teachers, the attorneys general in California and Mississippi, and the CFPB. Here are some of the top complaints filed by Navient borrowers.
Trouble with how payments are handled: The majority of borrower complaints about Navient have to do with repayment issues. Either the borrower is being overcharged, or payments are misallocated. A few borrowers tried to change repayment plans and had issues with the switch, where Navient did not change the plan right away and the borrower was charged fees in the transition. In order to make sure your requests go through, talk with a Navient representative and ask for confirmations and updates to your email so you have evidence of the agreement and can track the timeline.
Can't decrease monthly payments: Various borrowers are having trouble repaying their loans but are not given other flexible options for repayment. One of the main arguments in the lawsuits against Navient is that the company failed to inform borrowers of other repayment plans to make payments more manageable. To ensure that you are getting the best repayment plan, research your options on your own. There are multiple calculators and resources to find an option that would make the most sense for you. Then, talk to a representative to change your plan and be sure to ask for confirmation by email.
Received bad information about a loan: Borrowers have also filed several complaints concerning the information that they have received about their loans. Similar to the complaints above, borrowers said they were not aware of their repayment options or had trouble switching plans. To avoid this, download the app and monitor your balance and payments. If you are seeing anything out of the ordinary, contact Navient right away to resolve the issue.