Navient has consistently ranked as one of the most hated student loan servicers. Student Loan Planner’s reader feedback on the biggest Navient complaints and our survey on student loan servicers from earlier this year confirmed that’s most certainly still the case.
There are also several ongoing Navient lawsuits that contend the servicer’s missteps have indeed entered into criminal territory. No matter how these lawsuits fare, it’s important to understand that there are no exclusive Navient student loan forgiveness programs.
There are many general student loan forgiveness programs that Navient borrowers may qualify for, however. Let’s take a look at the Navient loan forgiveness options available today.
Despite once being the same company, Navient and Sallie Mae are now completely separate organizations. Navient loan forgiveness is not the same as Sallie Mae loan forgiveness.
Because of their history with Sallie Mae, however, Navient services a mix of private and federal student loans. You’ll want to know which kind you have. It makes a big difference in terms of which forgiveness programs you qualify for.
To find out what kind of student loans you have with Navient, you can contact them directly or conduct a “Financial Review” on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).
If you have federal student loans, those loans will be eligible for all of the federal forgiveness programs. But private student loans won’t be. Private student loans may be eligible for forgiveness through state or profession-specific student loan forgiveness programs. For a full list of programs, check out the Ultimate Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness.
If you have federal Navient student loans, here are three forgiveness options that are available to you.
1. Income-driven repayment forgiveness
Currently, the Department of Education offers four income-driven repayment (IDR) plans.
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Plan
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan
With each of these plans, you’ll be eligible for Navient student loan forgiveness once you reach the end of your repayment schedule. Depending on the plan that you choose, you’ll be eligible for forgiveness in 20 to 25 years, but you’ll want to stay vigilant to make sure that your payments are being handled correctly. And you’ll need to recertify your income and family size each year.
And, keep in mind, if you do receive forgiveness, you’ll owe income tax on the forgiven amount. So if IDR forgiveness is your strategy, make sure to save a little money each year for the tax bill that’s coming down the road.
2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
If you work in the public sector, such as for the government or a non-profit organization, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), is probably your best student loan forgiveness option. With PSLF, you can earn tax-free student loan forgiveness in as little as 10 years (or 120 qualifying payments).
It should be pointed out that FedLoan Servicing is the exclusive servicer of the PSLF program, meaning you can only qualify for this program if FedLoan is your servicer. But don’t worry if you’re with Navient right now.
You can apply for PSLF on the StudentAid.gov website. If you’re accepted to the program, Navient will automatically transfer your student loans to FedLoan Servicing. The Department of Education says that it will notify you if you’ve been accepted to the program. But if it’s taking longer than you think is reasonable to get an answer, you can call FedLoan Servicing at 1-855-265-4038 to ask for a status update.
3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Teachers can receive up to $17,500 of Navient student loan forgiveness through the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
But to qualify, you’ll need to be considered a “highly qualified” teacher. And you’ll need to teach five consecutive years in a low-income school or educational service agency.
It’s important to point out that PSLF and Teacher Loan Forgiveness don’t mix well. In many cases, you may be better off sticking with PSLF.
If you don’t qualify for any of the above programs — or even if you do — you may want to consider refinancing your Navient student loans. By refinancing, you could kill two birds with one stone.
It’s your chance to kick Navient to the curb, and you may save money on student loan interest, too. So, while refinancing isn’t technically student loan forgiveness, it could be your best Navient student loan strategy.
But how can you know when refinancing is the right move? Here are three questions to ask yourself:
1. Will you be eligible for federal forgiveness soon?
If you’re just starting repayment, refinancing could save you a lot of money over the life of your loans.
But if you’ve already made three years of payments toward Teacher Loan Forgiveness or five years of payments toward PSLF, that changes the discussion completely. If you’re already well on your path toward earning Navient student loan forgiveness through a federal program, you should avoid refinancing.
If you do choose to stay with Navient, make sure you’re on the right repayment plan and filing your taxes the right way. You should also be vigilant in making sure that Navient is handling your loans correctly. If your loans are in default with Navient, you may need to reach out to a student loan attorney.
2. What is your financial situation?
When you refinance student loans, you become ineligible for IDR options and federal forbearance or deferment. In other words, you’ll have less payment flexibility with private loans. Rain or shine, those bills will just keep on coming.
So do you have an emergency fund in place? If not, you may want to reach that goal before refinancing your student loans.
There are two other financial factors to consider: your credit score and debt-to-income ratio. If you have a credit score over 650 and you owe less than 1.5 times your income, you could be a prime candidate for refinancing. Otherwise, you may want to wait.
3. Have you achieved career stability?
If you only expect your income to grow over the next few years, refinancing could be a great move. IDR plans will become progressively less helpful as you make more money. Plus, you’ll be shackled to your student loans for 20 years or more and you’ll pay a lot more in interest.
But if your job situation is unstable, you may want to stick with federal student loans. Knowing that IDR is available if you were to need it can be a comfort. And if your job situation stabilizes, you can always refinance later.
Save money and hassle
Wondering if refinancing is worth it? Consider this. Let’s say you had $100,000 in student loans at 6.5% interest. Let’s also say that you chose to stay on the Standard 10-Year Repayment Plan. In that case, you’d pay $36,257 in interest over the life of your loans.
But by refinancing at 3.5%, your interest cost would drop to $18,663. That’s a savings of over $17,500. Plus, you’d be free of Navient and its problems.
If you’re thinking about refinancing your Navient student loans, Student Loan Planner can help you find a great deal. By taking smaller payouts than our competitors for our referral links, we’re able to offer our readers some of the highest cash bonuses available online.
Depending on your student loan balance, you could earn a $350 to $750 cash-back bonus. See how much you could save!