NelNet is one of the nation's largest student loan servicing companies. What happens is that the U.S. Department of Education contracts with companies like NelNet to provide student loan servicing options for their student loan portfolio.
Prior to 2012, when financial report changed how student loans were originated (from the old FFEL Loan Program), NelNet was also one of the largest holders of student loan debt, topping over $25 billion.
What many student loan borrowers don't realize is that companies like NelNet have as much power as the government when it comes to managing your student loans.
NelNet is contracted by the government to:
- Take in an apply payments to student loans
- Administer the transfer of student loans
- Process student loan programs, like forbearance, deferment, and certain loan forgiveness programs
- Report to credit agencies for payments that are past due
- Seek repayment from defaulted loans
- NelNet specifically manages the Disability Discharge program
Plus, they do a whole lot more. As a result, NelNet is not a popular company with many student loan borrowers. Below, you'll find a quick summary of common NelNet issues and complaints, and action steps that you can take if you're having issues. Here's our NelNet review and ways to contact them.
Nelnet's Past Student Loan Servicing Problems
Nelnet has been mired in controversy for years regarding how it handles student loans. As early at 1993, Nelnet was accused of using a tax loophole to generate upwards of $1.2 billion dollars in profits from student loans that it managed.
In 2007, the states of New York and Nebraska accused Nelnet of industry kickbacks and gifts to colleges and universities that pushed students toward Nelnet loans. There were also more reports of settlements with student loan borrowers and program administrators throughout the last few years arising from claims of improper management of student loan subsidies and other programs.
Student Loan Borrower Problems With Nelnet
Nelnet has been a popular discussion on this website. And that's why I wanted to devote an entire post to tackling problems with Nelnet student loan servicing. Too many times student loan borrowers get stuck in a place where they don't know where to go to vent their problems with their student loan servicer. This is the place to do it.
Samantha is a reader who reached out because of her frustrations with Nelnet. After graduating, she moved to Mexico. This has made it a challenge to pay her student loans because Nelnet (and most other debt companies) do not allow you to pay your loans with credit cards — only checking accounts and debit cards.
Nelnet advertises that they accept PayPal as a form of payment for their student loans, which would be awesome, except they didn't allow Samantha to use that option.
According to Samantha, "I asked if I could pay with PayPal and they mentioned that option is only available if I request it when I first set up my account. I asked, 'Can I delete my account and re-instate it?' Their answer was no." So much for following through on your commitments, Nelnet.
Check Your Credit Reports For Nelnet Mistakes
Remember, student loan servicing companies like Nelnet can, and do, report you to the credit bureaus for non-payment of your student loans. But, from the stories shared above, they sometimes make mistakes. That’s why I urge you to check your credit score for free using Credit Karma. They will show you your credit score for free, and then you can know if something is wrong. Plus, there are no gimmicks — it's truly free.
How to Get Away From Nelnet
If you’re struggling with Nelnet and are looking for help, start by calling NelNet and speaking to their customer service. They are literally paid by the government to help you with your student loans.
If you're not quite sure where to start or what to do, consider hiring a CFA or CFP to help you with your student loans. We recommend The Student Loan Planner to help you put together a solid financial plan for your student loan debt. Check out The Student Loan Planner here.
Finally, if you are able to, you should look at refinancing your student loans away from Nelnet. It doesn't always make sense to refinance Federal student loans into private loans, but for some people looking to save money, it does.
You can do this in a variety of ways, but I recommend looking using Credible, a student loan refinancing marketplace where you can receive offers from multiple lenders after filling out one short form. Plus, College Investor readers can get a $200 bonus when they refinance with Credible!
Try it out: Credible. It’s free and you can get an estimate of how much you can save by refinancing in less than two minutes. Don't believe me? Just fill out this form and see for yourself:
How To Contact Nelnet Customer Service
Phone number: (888) 486-4722
Hours of operation: 8-10. Mon-Fri (EST)
General mailing address:
P.O. Box 82561
Lincoln, NE 68501-2561
P.O. Box 82578
Lincoln, NE 68501-2578
Address for sending payments:
For accounts beginning with "E":
U.S. Department of Education
P.O. Box 2837
Portland, OR 97208-2837
For accounts beginning with "D":
P.O. Box 2970
Omaha, NE 68103-2970
For accounts beginning with "J":
P.O. Box 2877
Omaha, NE 68103-2877
Email/online contact form: Contact form
Have you had a challenging experience with Nelnet as your student loan provider? Has their customer service not been of service? Please share your story below — and even better, let us know if you found a resolution!
Do you have a different loan servicer? Check out our Complete List of Federal Loan Servicers which provides the contact information for all 13 of the current servicers of federal student loans.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.
Editor: Clint Proctor