Higher education costs and increasing student loan debt has led to things like loan discharges and student loan forgiveness. One of the oldest companies to understand that and offer a solution was the Navient Student Loan Forgiveness program.
With so many student loan borrowers in the United States, the government and companies alike have come up with their student loan forgiveness programs and custom repayment plans.
With so many options, like different student loan repayment programs, deferment, forbearance, loan consolidation, federal student aid, student debt relief, and refinancing, among other things, student loan forgiveness always takes the cake. This is mostly because there are no underlying conditions or restrictions involved after you get it.
Who is Navient and What Do They Do?
With millions of customers over the years, Navient is one of the oldest student loan servicers in the United States. Navient was originally launched in 1973 as a Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE), and was known as the Student Loan Marketing Association.
The company was later named Sallie Mae, and in 2004, Sallie Mae separated from the GSE charter and became a private company. By 2009, the U.S. Department of Education had chosen Sallie Mae as its primary loan servicer for federal student loans.
However, in 2014, Sallie Mae again separated into two companies, Sallie Mae and Navient. Sallie Mae became more focused on private lending and consumer banking, while Navient only focused on high education loans.
Currently, Navient manages over 12 million student loan borrowers and $300 billion in student loans. It employs over 6,000 people across the US and is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware.
As a student loan servicer, Navient also provides several services for consolidation, repayment terms, and student loan forgiveness.
Navient Student Loan Forgiveness Program
Navient is one of the oldest and biggest student loan providers out there. Here’s how you can get into the Navient student loan forgiveness programs in 4 steps.
1. Which Navient Student Loans Do You Have?
First of all, you should keep in mind that Sallie Mae loan forgiveness is completely different from Navient’s loan forgiveness programs. They both have different loan programs, co-signer options, repayment options, credit score requirements, and education loans.
Because Navient does federal loan servicing, as well, you have to separate your private loans from your federal loans (if you have any). Since there are different forgiveness programs for each type of loan, it makes a huge difference.
If you don’t remember which type of student loans you took out, you can always call Navient and inquire from them directly. Alternatively, you can check with the federal government’s National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) by conducting a ‘Financial Review.’
It’s best if you have federal loans since that makes you eligible for federal forgiveness programs, provided you’ve been making your monthly payments. However, private student loans are subject to the rules of the company that provided the direct loan. Private student loans can be eligible through the state, or in some cases, profession-specific forgiveness programs—if you’ve been regularly making the student loan payments.
Furthermore, check if Navient is your loan servicer. Just log in on the federal student aid website with your FSA ID and check your current ED servicer. It’ll most likely be Navient. However, it could also be FedLoan Servicing, Nelnet, or the Great Lakes Higher Education.
2. Choose A Forgiveness Program Option for Your Federal Student Loans
If you have federal Navient student loans, you have four forgiveness options.
1. Income-Driven Repayment Forgiveness
The Department of Education currently offers four separate IDR (income-driven repayment) plans, they include the following:
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Plan
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan
With any of these plans, as soon as your repayment schedule ends, you’ll be eligible for Navient student loan forgiveness. The typical time after which you’re eligible for forgiveness is around 20 to 25 years, depending on the plan you’ve chosen.
One thing you should keep in mind if you’re opting for IDR forgiveness is that you’ll owe the income tax amount on the forgiven loan amount (after interest rate). It’s best to have enough savings to pay off that income tax amount in one go.
2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
This second option is contingent on whether you work for the government or full-time in a non-profit organization. If you do, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is the best route you can take. That’s because you can get tax-free loan forgiveness after a minimum of 120 qualifying payments or 10 years.
Considering that FedLoan Servicing is the exclusive servicer for the PSLF program, you will only qualify for it if your servicer is FedLoan, as well. However, you can apply for PSLF on the federal government’s student aid website. If you’re accepted, Navient will automatically transfer your student loans to FedLoan Servicing.
If and when you’re accepted, you’ll receive confirmation from the Department of Education. You can always call FedLoan Servicing for an update if you believe it’s taking too long.
3. Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge
The Total and Permanent Disability Discharge is available to borrowers who aren’t able to make any loan payments due to a life-changing permanent disability.
The disability can be physical, mental, or both and has to be certified by a registered doctor. You can also get a disabled status through Veterans Affairs or the Social Security Administration.
If approved, the entire loan balance is discharged, and if you’ve already made payments, the remaining balance is forgiven.
4. Teacher Loan Forgiveness
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program allows student loan forgiveness for teachers who can receive upwards of $17,5000 of Navient student loan forgiveness.
However, there are strict restrictions on which teachers qualify for the program. The most important criteria are the following:
- You have to be considered a highly-qualified teacher.
- You have to have taught for at least 5 consecutive years at an educational service agency or a low-income school.
Furthermore, if you have the option to opt for the PSLF program, it’s best to go with that rather than the TLF program.
5. Other Possible Student Loan Discharge Options
If you don’t qualify for any of the above, you can also check out these loan discharge options for your Navient student loans.
- Unpaid Refund Discharge Program: This is only possible if you have withdrawn from your school or dropped out due to a valid reason after receiving your loan. If you’re eligible for a refund and if your reasons are genuine, the school might agree on paying back the amount you have paid them.
- Closed School Loan Discharge Program: If you’ve recently graduated from a school that is now closed or your school closed down while you were enrolled, you can apply for this program. You have to fill out the application for it and submit it with your lender. Keep in mind that if your school closed down 120 days after you graduated, you will not be eligible for this program.
- False Certification Discharge Program: You are eligible for this discharge if you have been falsely certified for federal aid by your school. Furthermore, it only applies if you have Federal Direct, Parent Plus, or FFEL loans. You can get reimbursed for the amount you have already paid.
If you feel like you qualify for any of these discharges, it’s best to get a professional opinion first and then make your move.
3. Choose A Forgiveness Program Option for Your Private Student Loans
Your Navient private student loans aren’t directly eligible for Navient student loan forgiveness. However, there are other private student loan forgiveness options you can opt for.
The following are some ways you can opt for private student loan forgiveness:
- Bankruptcy: Your loans won’t be automatically forgiven if you’re bankrupt. However, it is possible if you can prove that repaying your loans will cause undue hardship. You will have to file an action against your student loan lender, and while the chances of success are slim, a substantial loan amount just might do the job.
- Death or Disability Discharge: Your private loan might be forgiven due to permanent disability or death (the co-signer doesn’t bear the loan).
- Missing Paperwork: At times, missing paperwork means that a lender cannot prove that a certain person owes any money. National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts has lost tons of cases due to a lack of proper paperwork. If that’s the case, you won’t be liable for the loan if you’re taken to court after defaulting.
- Predatory Practices or Fraud: If your lender or loan servicer is proven guilty for fraud, predatory practices, or borrower abuse, all their loans are considered null and every borrower has their loan forgiven. New regulations from the Trump administration have made it hard to find relief in these situations, however, you can still pursue legal remedies.
If you think you fall under any of these categories, you can be hopeful for private student loan forgiveness.
4. Refinance If Possible
If you don’t qualify for student loan forgiveness, you can refinance your loans, save money on student loan interest, and ease up on payments. However, if you do qualify for forgiveness, you can still refinance your loans to get easier payments.
With that being said, you should only refinance if you meet the following criteria:
- If you’re far from any form of forgiveness; if you’re just starting repayment, refinancing will save you loads of money in the long run. However, if you’ve already invested time and money into something like teaching for 5 years for PSLF, it’s best to avoid refinancing.
- Refinancing your loans makes you ineligible for IDR options, deferment, and forbearance. Therefore, you should only refinance if you’re somewhat financially stable or have emergency funds at your disposal. Furthermore, you also need to make sure your credit score is over 650 and you have a debt-to-income ratio of 1.5, at the very least.
- If you’ve successfully achieved career stability and expect growth in your income, refinancing would be a good idea. However, with an unstable job and career, it’s best to stick with what you already have and opt for IDR options.
All in all, it’s best to speak with a professional student loan advisor before making the decision to refinance your loans.
Should I Apply for Navient Student Loan Forgiveness?
You can’t apply for student loan forgiveness if you’ve only just graduated or have been making payments for a few years. Most loan forgiveness programs are available after you’ve made substantial payments (at least 10 years of payments). However, loan forgiveness in the case of death or disability is available whenever it’s liable.
It’s best to refinance your loans if you’re just getting into repaying your loans. This can help reduce the interest payments and you can change your loan servicer in the process.
With that being said, if you think you’re eligible for any sort of loan forgiveness, you should apply for it as soon as possible.