When you graduate college with federal student loan debt, you're assigned a student loan servicer to collect your loan payments and provide customer service. One of those servicing companies is Navient, which manages about $300 billion of government and private student loans for more than 12 million borrowers.
If you have Navient as your student loan servicer, you probably didn't choose it, but it's still a good idea to educate yourself on the company. Here is what you need to know.
What Is Navient?
Navient was originally known as Sallie Mae. In 2014 Sallie Mae split into two entities and rebranded its student loan servicing offshoot as Navient.
Navient is currently one of 10 student loan servicers that the government has contracts with to collect and service more than $1.5 trillion in federal student loans. This is about to change. In June 2020, the Department of Education's office of Federal Student Aid announced that it would be consolidating its contracts to just five companies servicing these loans. Although the existing loan servicers had their contracts extended in December, none of those contracts will be renewed beyond 2022. Navient was given a one-year extension, which means after December 2021, Navient will no longer service federal student loan debt.
You can find out who services your student loans at any time by signing into your StudentAid.gov account dashboard or checking your credit report to see what student loan servicing company is listed.
Is Navient Federal or Private?
While Sallie Mae was originally created by Congress to support the federal student loan program, Navient is a private company that the U.S. Department of Education hired to service its federal loans.
The Department of Education compiles customer satisfaction survey scores and default prevention statistics for the servicing companies it has contracts with every six months to determine each servicer’s allocation of loan volume. From June 2019 to June 2020, Navient received 5% to 9% of new loan volume.
Is There a Class Action Lawsuit Against Navient?
A number of lawsuits have been filed against Navient, including one filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in 2017 alleging that it deceived and overcharged borrowers, specifically that it penalized borrowers for paying in advance by failing to count lump payments toward the number of consecutive on-time payments required for cosigner release. In March 2021, after four years of litigation, a settlement was reached between Navient and the attorney general's office in Washington state where a judge ruled that Navient violated the Consumer Protection Act. Similar lawsuits in California, Illinois, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are ongoing, and Navient denies any wrongdoing.
In May 2020, Navient settled a lawsuit brought forth by members of the American Federation of Teachers in 2018. The suit alleged that Navient misdirected borrowers into repayment and forbearance programs who should have instead been directed to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Enrolling in PSLF would have resulted in transferring the loans to competitor FedLoan Servicing. Navient also allegedly encouraged students struggling financially to choose forbearance over Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plans that would have resulted in them paying less interest.
The settlement included a $1.75 million payment to a fund that would educate borrowers on the PSLF program as well as $15 million paid to each of the 10 plaintiffs. As part of the settlement, Navient will also monitor its customer service calls and create standardized templates for borrowers who ask for information about public service loan forgiveness.
What Can Navient Help You With?
Navient is responsible for all aspects of payment and customer service related to your loans. Borrowers can choose their payment plan, apply for payment deferral or forbearance, and request military benefits. You can also enroll in autopay to take advantage of a 0.25% interest rate discount.
Borrowers cannot access federal programs like IDR or PSLF through Navient. You must apply and recertify by filling out forms found at StudentAid.gov.
How to Make Navient Payments
If you're assigned Navient for your loan servicer, you'll first receive an email with instructions on how to register for online access. The amount of your first loan payment will be available in your Account Overview 30 to 45 days before you enter repayment.
In your online account, you can make a payment or enroll in auto pay. Under the Make a Payment page, you can make a one-time payment of any amount on any combination of loans simply by changing the numbers in the Amount column.
Should you need to mail a payment, you can send a check to:
Navient – U.S. Department of Education Loan Servicing
P.O. Box 4450
Portland, OR 97208-4450
In addition to litigation, Navient has no shortage of consumer complaints. Out of 2,827 complaints against student loan servicers in the CFPB Consumer Complaint Database from April 2020 to April 2021, nearly 45% (1,251) were against Navient.
Many complaints with narratives include Navient raising or lowering payments without ample notice and deceptive practices from customer service representatives.
How to Contact Navient
The easiest way to contact Navient is to email the company from your account using the Email Us link in the Help Center.
Federal student loan borrowers can also contact Navient by calling 800-722-1300 Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., or Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (ET).
You can correspond by mail at the following address:
P.O. Box 9635
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773-9635
Is Navient Your Only Servicing Option?
Navient isn't your only loan servicing choice. If you’d like to move your loan to another servicer, you have several options.
Refinance Your Loans
Refinancing your student loans through a private lender can get you a new servicer and potentially a lower interest rate, as well as reduce your monthly payment and help you pay off your loans early. Investopedia has reviewed all of the best student loan refinance companies to help you find the right fit for you.
When you refinance your loans you forfeit any federal programs available to you including Income Driven Repayment and all forgiveness programs.
Enroll in Public Service Loan Forgiveness
When you enroll in PSLF, your loans are automatically moved to FedLoan Servicing, a student loan servicer owned by Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA.) PHEAA also owns American Education Service (AES), another student loan servicer.
Consolidate Your Loans
During the process of consolidating your federal loans into one new federal direct loan, you can choose a new servicer. Be aware that consolidating loans will increase the weighted average of your previous interest rates by 0.125%.
If you’re happy with Navient or plan to pay off your loans quickly, there’s no need to switch to another student loan servicer. However, if you’re frustrated or have suffered financially due to a lack of communication or mismanagement, then you can take action and move your loans elsewhere. If you have a federal loan serviced by Navient, you will be assigned a new student loan servicer by the Department of Education before the end of 2021, when Navient's contract with the government expires.