If you were assigned Nelnet as your federal student loan servicer, you might have lucked out. The company, which services loans for over five million people, doesn’t have nearly as many complaints as FedLoan Servicing and Navient.
It’s no surprise that even Nelnet customers have had terrible experiences with the servicer as shown in other Nelnet reviews. In the summer of 2018, we ran a survey of our readers to learn about their good and bad experiences with their federal loan servicers.
Of the responses we received about Nelnet, more than half were complaints. Of the readers who have reached out to the servicer about an issue, less than 4 in 10 actually got it resolved.
Overall, the servicer received a rating of 3.3 out of 5 by all of the readers who responded. Here are some of the top Nelnet complaints we saw.
The top Nelnet complaints from customers
Nelnet reviews can vary, depending on how much contact a customer has with the servicer and who helped them. But we found some disturbing trends in the Nelnet complaints we received, some of which ended up costing borrowers more money.
Here are the top three.
1. Customer service
When you owe tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, you’d think that the company making money off of you would have your back. But that hasn’t been the case for many readers.
Whenever one reader had concerns about their account, the response they invariably received was, “‘that’s a Department of Education problem,’” they wrote. “Their customer service is there just to tell you they can’t help you.” Here are a few other thoughts from Nelnet reviews.
Another reader was automatically put in deferment because their house was in a flood-affected area. When they called to say they weren’t impacted personally and asked to be taken off deferment, the representative said they would do it but didn’t. “My loans remained deferred for three months,” wrote the reader, costing them more because of the capitalized interest.
Some readers had a hard time getting specific information about their loans, instead of getting generic and “largely useless” information in an email or over the phone. Others noted getting passed around to different representatives and getting different answers from each to the same question.
What you can do: You can’t control who you talk to, but doing your research before you call can help you spot incorrect information. Also, don’t be afraid to be persistent if your issue isn’t solved. It may require you to set aside time to wait on hold, but it could save you time and money in the long run.
Of all the Nelnet complaints we received, one was downright egregious. When a reader started the process of re-certifying their income for an income-driven repayment plan, the representative they spoke with asked about their and their spouse’s hourly wages and weekly hours. “Then they based my monthly repayment amount on that number instead of our tax return,” they added.
According to the Department of Education, though, the only time a servicer can use anything but your adjusted gross income from your tax return is if your current income is significantly different. Even then, applicants are required to submit documentation to show their current income, and a phone call doesn’t count.
Another reader wrote that they received a letter from Nelnet stating that their grace period had begun and they would need to start making payments in six months. The problem? The grace period starts after you leave school and this student hadn’t yet graduated.
“Other students at my school with Nelnet had the same issue,” they wrote, “while none of the students with other loan servicers were affected.”
Other respondents complained about the amount of time it takes for Nelnet to process payments, which can cause problems when you’re trying to manage your checking account. Moreover, borrowers wrote about getting confusing information about how their payments are split up between loans and having their payments calculated incorrectly.
What you can do: It’s crucial to know how to spot mishaps with your monthly payments because it could end up costing you more money. Keep an eye on how much is coming out of your checking account each month, and sign up for payment alerts with the servicer. Also, check your Nelnet account every now and then to make sure the payments are being applied correctly.
And if you plan to apply for an income-driven repayment plan or Public Service Loan Forgiveness, do your research beforehand to ensure they do it right and don’t give you wrong advice.
Student loans can be complicated, so there’s no excuse for a loan servicer to make things even more confusing. But that’s exactly what’s happened with some of our readers.
“They apparently aren’t on the same page as the Department of Education,” wrote one reader, “since I receive conflicting correspondence.”
Another reader mentioned that they’re glad they know enough to spot inconsistent advice when they see it. “I am on top of my loans, but it’s hard when they are supposed to have your answers,” they wrote.
What you can do: One reader told us that they never get a clear answer to their questions and end up having to do all the research on their own. And that’s exactly what we’d recommend. Also, keep a tight record of your emails and calls with Nelnet to cover yourself if something goes wrong.
What to do if Nelnet is your servicer
We understand that our list of Nelnet complaints may not accurately represent everyone’s experience with the servicer. But if you think these issues are isolated, think again. In 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received 1,013 Nelnet complaints from customers.
If you’ve experienced some of the problems our readers have shared, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to keep putting up with it. At Student Loan Planner, we can help you find a new servicer, either through consolidating your loans with another federal servicer or by refinancing them with a private lender who might be more customer-friendly.
Have you had any issues with Nelnet?