Navient’s company name is new, but its services are not. In 2009, Sallie Mae began servicing Federal student loans on behalf of the Department of Education, and in 2014, Navient separated from Sallie Mae to continue as the loan manager branch of the company.
It helps 12 million customers with their federal and private student loans. If you’re one of those customers, continue reading to find out what Navient offers, and how you can resolve a dispute if a problem arises.
Overview of Navient
Navient claims its customers “default at a rate 30 percent better than the national average” because it provides a wide range of financial tools on its site. Let’s see if it lives up to that claim.
First, Navient offers a “Protect Yourself From Fraud” section, which is great to see from a student loan servicer. Lately, many student loan debt relief scams have been making the rounds. These third-party companies offer to lower your debt, get your debt forgiven, or enroll you in a different repayment plan – all of which you can do for free with the help of your servicer. Navient does a good job of explaining what you need to be aware of and how you can avoid getting scammed.
[Learn more about student loan debt relief scams here]
There’s also a section on renewing Income-Driven Repayment Plans, which is important to know if you’re enrolled in one. You don’t have to fully re-apply each year, but to stay enrolled, you need to provide the Department of Education with updated paperwork “certifying” your family size and income. Navient gives you all the details you need, including how to renew and what documents you need. Some borrowers aren’t aware they need to go through this process and may temporarily lose access to the Income-Driven Repayment plan because they fail to send in the necessary paperwork.
[How to set up an income-driven repayment plan]
If you’re experiencing financial difficulty, Navient has an entire section on what you can do if you’re having trouble paying. This includes a list of options for both federal and private borrowers, and contact numbers for Navient so you can talk to a representative about which option is best for you.
One of the most frustrating things to deal with as a borrower is how your payments are applied to your loan. Navient breaks this down depending on what type of loan you have, and if you have a single loan or multiple loans. There’s a section for federal and private loans.
Along with these articles pertaining to repayment of your student loan debt, Navient offers brochures of financial tips you can use to manage your money while paying off your debt. It offers helpful money management tips, strategies to help you save more, a budget worksheet, and a financial goal worksheet, both of which you can fill out. Additionally, Navient has partnered with EverFi to provide an educational course called “The Navient Path to Success!” that customers have access to.
Navient also has a very user-friendly website. It’s extremely easy to navigate and the information is presented in a clear way.
What Borrowers Are Saying
Navient has a few customer testimonials on its website, but those are curated. If you’re looking for real opinions, you might want to check the BBB, or reviews from bloggers who have Navient as their student loan servicer.
A customer posted a review on Consumer Affairs explaining that Navient had sent out two consolidation packets and mixed the names and addresses up. She received someone else’s packet, and that person had her husband’s. Highly sensitive information was contained in the packets, and upon calling the Fraud Department at Navient, she found the number wasn’t working.
Not surprisingly, others report having issues only after Navient took over from Sallie Mae. Many borrowers were paying their loans down with Sallie Mae without a hitch, but when Navient took over, payments didn’t get processed properly. In some cases, payments also weren’t getting automatically withdrawn when borrowers signed up for autopayment.
The BBB website shows 2,006 complaints closed within the last three years, with 787 of those closed within the last 12 months. By far, the most common issue borrowers cite is billing and collections, with over 1,300 complaints filed there. The runner up is problems with the product or service, with over 600 complaints filed.
One borrower said he called Navient to ask about the public service loan forgiveness program and a representative responded that they couldn’t help with that or “reconsolidation.” (Meanwhile, the website says to call to change your repayment plan.) There are additional complaints about payments not showing up. Some borrowers have had to provide proof of payment, and Navient has insisted that they didn’t pay, or have taken an extended period of time to apply payments.
There’s also the fact that the government sued Navient for overcharging on interest, specifically to service members. These borrowers are entitled to a 6% interest cap for loans taken out before their service begins, and Navient was ignoring the cap.
How to Resolve a Dispute With Navient if You Have Federal Student Loans
Borrowers with federal student loans must first go through Navient before they can enlist the help of the Student Aid Ombudsman Group (information below). It’s clear from some of the complaints filed by borrowers that you might want to ask to speak to a supervisor if the representative isn’t helping you.
If you’re not 100% sure what the cause of your problem is, Navient has quite a bit of information on its website, and you should try researching your question there first. Once you have a basic understanding of what should be happening, call customer support and explain your issue. Make sure you keep a pen and paper handy so you have a record of your communication.
If you aren’t satisfied with the representative’s answer, ask to speak to a manager, or try calling back to speak with a different representative. It’s unfortunate you might get better results this way, but it’s worth trying to get your issue resolved quicker.
Depending on the type of loan you have, you’ll have to call or write to a different address. Navient has its contact information listed here.
For federal loans with the U.S. Department of Education, call 800-722-1300 or write to:
Navient U.S. Department of Education Loan Servicing
P.O. Box 9635
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773-9635
Note – this is the address for general correspondence, so don’t send payments there! You can also fax documents to 866-266-0178.
Additionally, Navient says it’s active on various social media platforms, and you can try making your issue known there. Just be sure to follow the guidelines Navient has set, otherwise your post may be deleted.
Before taking any action, you should look at this list of common problems student loan borrowers face. The Department of Education put this together, and it may help if you’re trying to figure out what steps you need to take before contacting customer service.
Getting Help From the Student Aid Ombudsman Group
Before going to the Student Aid Ombudsman Group, you need to have the proper documentation and proof that you’ve been corresponding with Navient. Think of it like preparing for a court case (only a little less serious) – you want to have everything you need to present your case to the Ombudsman.
Thankfully, the Department of Education has a few documents to help you with this. In fact, you must complete this checklist before contacting the Ombudsman. It’s easy to understand, and will help direct you to a solution if it can be resolved without the help of the Ombudsman.
Once you’re ready, you have a few choices as to how you contact the Ombudsman. The easiest way is to fill out this online form at the Department of Education’s website. That page also lists the contact information for the Ombudsman, which is as follows:
Address: U.S. Department of Education
FSA Ombudsman Group
830 First Street, N.E., Mail Stop 5144
Washington, DC 20202-5144
One last word about the Ombudsman – your representative will not immediately side with you. The Ombudsman’s job is to get to the bottom of the dispute and to ensure there’s enough documentation provided by both sides to reach a resolution. The Ombudsman is more of a mediator than an advocate. If she finds that Navient is in the wrong, then she’ll assist you in rectifying the situation, but don’t assume that’s what will happen.
How to Resolve a Dispute With Navient if You Have Private Student Loans
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau takes complaints from borrowers with private student loans. It’s similar to the Student Aid Ombudsman Group, as it will try to get an answer from Navient on your behalf. However, the CFPB has been taking action to crack down on misbehavior by private student loan lenders and servicers, so your complaint will be taken into consideration.
While you can go to the CFPB immediately, if you’d like to try and contact Navient before escalating the issue, you can find the contact information on this page by scrolling down.
Otherwise, all you need to do is fill out a five-step complaint form with the CFPB online. You can also give the CFPB permission to use your complaint on consumerfinance.gov so others are aware of the issue you’re experiencing.
Once you’ve completed the form, your complaint will be forwarded to Navient, and the CFPB will issue a tracking number to keep you updated on the status of the issue. It shouldn’t take longer than two weeks to hear back, but set your own reminders so you don’t forget to check in.
Keep Communication Open With Navient
All student loan servicers have their faults, but no matter what, they’re the ones servicing the loans. As a borrower, it’s your job to keep in contact with Navient. Miscommunication happens, and as a consumer, you must look out for yourself. Check your free credit reports (annualcreditreport.com) three times a year to ensure nothing is being reported incorrectly by Navient, and always stay on top of your transactions so you know if a payment hasn’t gone through. The sooner you contact a representative about an issue, the quicker it can get resolved.