Does the name Nelnet sound familiar? No, it’s not something out of the Terminator movies—it’s simply the name of a student loan servicing company that manages federal student loans for the U.S. Department of Education.
If Nelnet is your student loan servicer, that means that the company’s job is to enable you to repay your student loans. That means that instead of looking at letters and emails from Nelnet with the sense of dread typically reserved for omniscient killer robots, you should view them as communication from an advisor.
Do you have questions about Nelnet is, what they do, and their job as a servicer? We answer all of those questions and more for you below so that you can make smarter decisions about how you repay your student loans.
Who is Nelnet?
Nelnet was founded in 1996. Over the years, the company has purchased many other loan servicers in order to continue growing their business and portfolio. Some of the most notable of these acquisitions include UNIPAC Service Corporation, which was founded in 1978 and InTuition, which was founded in 1979. The company now owns more than 50 subsidiaries which work to service federal and private student loans in both the United States and Canada. It is a publicly traded company.
In February of 2018, Nelnet acquired most of the student loan business of Great Lakes, a competitor. In doing so, Nelnet became the largest servicer of federal student loans, which together with Navient and FedLoan Servicing make up the top three servicers.
Nelnet is headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, but services loans around the country.
Nelnet and Great Lakes
Originally, Nelnet and Great Lakes were each their own companies. They were a part of the “Big Four” for-profit federal servicers, which managed the majority of federal student loans. Upon completion of the acquisition, Nelnet became the largest of the now “Big Three.” Though Great Lakes was acquired by Nelnet in 2018, Great Lakes continues to operate under its existing brand. As a part of the acquisition, some loans may have been transferred between the two companies, but for the majority of customers nothing has changed.
What does Nelnet do?
As a federal student loan servicer, Nelnet is responsible for completing certain tasks and duties that the U.S. Department of Education requires of all the servicers it works with. This includes:
- In the broadest sense, managing your student loans
- Receiving and allocating your monthly student loan payments
- Processing and handling your student loan forms and paperwork
- Managing your loan status, due dates, and other logistics for your loan
- Helping you understand your options for deferment and forbearance
- Guiding you through the process of forgiveness or discharge, should you qualify
- Educating you about your repayment options
- Answering any other questions you may have about your federal student loans
Because Nelnet is a conglomerate, it is made up of many other companies and divisions, each of which performs other tasks as is required by their business plans. This includes everything from business solutions to payment technology to financial management, school administration, enrollment and communications services, and more.
Nelnet also offers private student loans and student loan refinancing through its business segment, U-fi. Therefore, it’s possible that even if you have not borrowed federal student loans, you may find yourself dealing with Nelnet due to your private student loans originated by the business or serviced on behalf of another lender.
Types of Loans Serviced by Nelnet
Nelnet is a federal student loan servicer. That means they manage most types of federal student loans, including:
- Direct Subsidized Loans
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans
- Direct Parent PLUS Loans
- Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
- Direct Consolidation Loans
- Perkins Loans
- Stafford Loans
As mentioned above, Nelnet also offers private student loans and student loan refinancing through its various subsidiaries.
How to Contact Nelnet
Do you have a question about whether or not you qualify to enroll in a particular repayment plan? Do you need to change your payment due date to later in the month so that all of your monthly bills aren’t due the same week? Are you worried that you might not be able to make your payment? If so, you should reach out to your servicer immediately to discuss your options. No matter what, you should never just stop making payments hoping that your loan debt will go away!
Nelnet’s business hours are 8am to 10pm EST Monday through Friday. They are closed on the weekend. You can contact them through any of the channels listed below:
For security reasons, you cannot simply email Nelnet with questions about your account. You can, however, submit a form on their website (here) in order to request assistance on your loan.
P.O. Box 82561
Lincoln, NE 68501-2561
Alternatives to Nelnet Servicing
Some federal student loan borrowers who have Nelnet as a servicer and who have had a poor customer experience may be wondering if it’s possible to transfer their loans to a different servicer who can provide better service. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Education reserves the right to determine who your servicer is, a decision which is often made based on its contracts with each company it works with. As such, it typically isn’t possible to request a new servicer.
That being said, student loan consolidation and refinancing are two potential ways that you can get out of working with Nelnet.
Student Loan Consolidation
In student loan consolidation, you are essentially taking multiple federal student loans and merging them into a single new federal loan. This new loan is known as a Direct Consolidation Loan. As a part of the process of applying for consolidation, you will be able to request that your new student loan either stay with your existing servicer or be transferred to a different servicer. While this request cannot always be met, it is taken into consideration, and is often respected.
Bear in mind that Great Lakes, another federal servicer, is owned by Nelnet. That being said, the two businesses are operated independently of one another, so a bad experience with Nelnet will not automatically translate into a bad experience with Great Lakes.
While consolidation may be an option to change servicers and can even make it a bit easier to keep track of your student loans, it isn’t necessarily a good fit for everyone. Consolidation can reset the clock for forgiveness, and may impact which repayment plans that you qualify for. That’s why it’s crucial that you understand the pros and cons of consolidating your student loans before you start the process.
Student Loan Refinancing
Student loan refinancing is another option that is often discussed alongside consolidation. In refinancing, you take your federal student loans and essentially convert them into a private student loan with a new lender. Because you have the final say over who this lender is, you can determine whatever criteria you have for who you want to work with.
People choose to refinance their federal student loans for a variety of reasons, including a desire for lower interest rates, lower monthly payments, or, yes, more control over who you are working with. While these are all benefits, it is also important to note that because refinancing converts your loans into private ones, you may lose certain powerful benefits and protections enjoyed by borrowers of federal loans, such as flexible repayment options and the ability to defer or forbear your student loans. This is why you need to understand the pros and cons of refinancing your student loans before you make any decision.
As mentioned above, Nelnet offers student loan refinancing options through U-fi a business segment. If you are refinancing your student loans specifically because you have had a poor experience with Nelnet, you may want to work with a private lender beside U-fi.