Navient has consistently ranked as one of the most disliked student loan servicers. Student Loan Planner®’s reader feedback on the biggest Navient complaints and our survey on student loan servicers confirmed that’s most certainly still the case.
There were also several Navient lawsuits that contend the servicer’s missteps have indeed entered into criminal territory.
It’s important to understand that there are no exclusive Navient student loan forgiveness programs. However, there are many general student loan forgiveness programs that Navient borrowers may be eligible for.
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 like Public Service Loan Forgiveness. 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 student loans with Navient, here are three forgiveness options that are available to you.
1. Income-driven repayment (IDR) forgiveness
Currently, the office of Federal Student Aid at the Department of Education offers four income-driven repayment plans for its loans.
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Plan
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan
By taking advantage of these income-driven repayment plans, you may be able to your lower monthly payment amount. Plus, you may be eligible to receive 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 federal student loan 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 income-driven repayment (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 (PSLF)
If you work for a qualifying employer in the public sector, such as the government or a non-profit organization, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program 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 student loan payments).
It should be pointed out that the Department of Education has selected FedLoan Servicing as the exclusive servicer of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. This means 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 federal 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.
Note that Parent PLUS Loans don’t qualify for PSLF. However, Parent PLUS borrowers can become eligible by taking out a Direct Consolidation Loan. It’s also important to understand that, with Parent PLUS Loans, it’s the parent’s employment that must qualify for PSLF, not the student’s.
3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Teachers might be eligible for 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 by the Federal Student Aid office at the Department of Education. And you’ll need to teach five consecutive academic years in a low-income elementary school, secondary 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 might be better off sticking with PSLF.
4. Loan Discharge
This isn’t technically a “forgiveness” option. But it should be noted that there are several ways that federal student loan borrowers can become eligible to have their student loans discharged.
One example is Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge. To qualify for TPD discharge, you’ll need to provide medical documentation of your disability. Eligible loans for Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge include Direct Loans, FFEL loans, and Perkins Loans.
The Federal Student Aid Office will also discharge your student loans if you die or, in the case of a Parent PLUS Loan, your parent dies. Other federal discharge options include closed school discharge, false certification or unauthorized payment discharge, and borrower defense discharge.
If you have private student loans and 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 student loan forgiveness, it could be your best Navient student loan strategy.
But how can student loan borrowers 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 federal student loan payments toward Teacher Loan Forgiveness or five years toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, 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 federal student loans, you become ineligible to base your monthly payment amount on your income or to apply for federal forbearance or deferment. In other words, federal student loan borrowers will have less payment flexibility with private student loans. Rain or shine, the 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 federal 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 stick with the loans you received from the Federal Student Aid office.
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. Income-driven repayment 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 since they provide more repayment options. Knowing that income-driven repayment (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 to private student loans at 3.5%, your interest cost would drop to $18,663. That’s a savings of over $17,500. Plus, you’d have a lower monthly payment amount along the way and would 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 may be eligible to earn a $350 to $1,275 cash-back bonus. See how much you could save!