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Student Loans

Nelnet Bank Student Loans Review

Updated Feb 03, 2024   |   18-min read

Student loan refinancing and private student loans

  • Simple and user-friendly application process
  • Provides resources and tools to help borrowers understand their loans
  • Cosigner release after 24 consecutive on-time payments

About Nelnet Bank

Nelnet Bank is an online division of Nelnet Inc., backed by more than 40 years of experience helping students navigate their educational finances. Committed to supporting education, it started with a mission to help students and families navigate the complexities of financing.

Nelnet Bank offers financial products and services to ease educational expenses, including refinancing for federal and private student loans, and private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students. Nelnet Bank has a handy mobile app that allows customers to manage their accounts and make payments. It also offers customer support through phone, email, and chat. 

This comprehensive review delves into Nelnet Bank and its private student loans and refinancing options. If you’re looking for information about Nelnet’s federal loans, read our review of the federal loan servicing it provides with its parent company, Nelnet Inc.

Our take on Nelnet Bank’s private student loans

Type of student loanOur takeEditorial rating
UndergraduateNo best-for designation4.0 out of 5
GraduateNo best-for designationNo rating
Check your rate without affecting your credit.

Our take on Nelnet Bank’s private student loans is based on meticulous editorial research. No two companies earn the same best-for designation, and some don’t earn a designation at all.

Nelnet Bank’s undergraduate and graduate student loan offer a solid package, but it doesn’t excel in any one area to warrant a best-for label. Our best undergraduate and graduate student loans rate higher than Nelnet—between 4.3 and 5.0.

Rates, terms, and more

Nelnet Bank’s private student loans offer fixed and variable rates.The available loan amounts and the variety of in-school repayment plans are standard. However, terms can differ depending on the specific loan type. We’ll explore that in more detail.

Loan amounts:

  • Undergraduate: $1,000 – $125,000
  • Graduate: 
    • $1,000 – $175,000 (Graduate, doctorate, MBA, or graduate law degree)
    • $1,000 – $500,000 (Graduate health professions degree)

Rates (APR):

  • Fixed: 4.49%14.82%
  • Variable: 6.04%15.55%

Grace period:

  • 6 months (doesn’t apply if you choose immediate in-school repayment)

Cosigner release:

  • After 24 months of consecutive on-time payments

Fees:

  • Late fee: 5% of the payment or $25, whichever is less, if not made within 15 days of the due date
  • Returned payment fee: $20 (charged instead of a late payment fee)

Unique features:

  • Nelnet Bank extends student loans to borrowers attending community colleges and those enrolled less than half-time.
  • You can prequalify and check rates without affecting your credit score.

Reviewing the terms can help you understand the conditions that apply to each loan and make an informed decision.

Who’s eligible for Nelnet Bank private student loans?

Nelnet Bank’s private student loans are accessible to many borrowers. While not mandatory, cosigners are often beneficial in securing loans, especially for those with limited credit history or income. 

For a clear understanding of Nelnet Bank’s eligibility criteria, let’s delve into the details:

RequirementDetails
CitizenshipBorrower or cosigner must be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency status and a valid Social Security number
State of residenceAvailable in all states and territories
Minimum ageLegal age to enter into binding contracts in your state or territory of residency, or at least 17 years old and applying with a cosigner who is at least the age of majority
Enrolled schoolTitle IV participating 4-year public or a private not-for-profit institution of higher education
Enrollment statusFull-time, half-time, or less than half-time (i.e., part-time)
Minimum credit scoreBorrower or cosigner must have at least a mid-600 FICO score

A range of students may be eligible for Nelnet Bank’s private student loans. It’s always best to review your financial situation and speak with a financial advisor before applying.

How do you repay private student loans from Nelnet Bank?

Repaying private student loans from Nelnet Bank involves factors that can vary based on the borrower’s specific loan agreement and personal circumstances. 

Not all loans from Nelnet have the same repayment terms. These differences may stem from the loan type, selected repayment plan, or term. Let’s dig into the specifics.

When does repayment begin?

When your Nelnet loan repayment begins depends on your in-school repayment plan and whether your repayment term includes a grace period. 

You’ll have control over this: You select your preferred repayment plan and term during the application process. Here’s a snapshot of the specific choices:

In-school repayment optionsDetails
Immediate repaymentFull principal and interest payments begin as soon as the loan is disbursed
Interest-only repaymentOnly make interest payments while in school; full principal and interest payments begin after leaving school
Defer principal and interest paymentsNo payments until after leaving school; interest accrues while in deferment
Grace period6 months (does not apply if immediate in-school repayment is chosen)

Here’s how your payments might differ on a $10,000 student loan at 5% APR:

Repayment planMonthly in-school Payment
Full principal and interest$188.71
Interest-only$41.67
Deferred Payments$0

Note: Actual rates and payments could vary. Full principal and interest payments assume a standard five-year term. Interest-only payments are based only on the interest accrued monthly. Please check with Nelnet Bank for the most accurate rates and payments.

How long does repayment last?

The repayment term you choose will determine the length of loan repayment. You can select your preferred repayment term based on what Nelnet offers when you apply. Choices could range from five to 20 years. 

Loan typeRepayment terms
Undergraduate student loan5 – 20 years
Graduate student loan5 – 20 years

You may repay the loan early without penalty to lower total loan costs. The length of the repayment term affects the monthly payments and total loan cost. A longer term means lower monthly payments but a higher overall cost due to the accumulation of interest over time, as you can see in the example terms in the table below. 

We assumed the borrower took out a $20,000 student loan at a 7% fixed APR:

Repayment termMonthly paymentTotal paid on loan
5 years$396.02$23,761.20
10 years$232.22$27,866.40
15 years$179.55$32,319.00
20 years$154.95$37,188.00

Are there repayment assistance programs?

Repayment assistance programs can aid borrowers who struggle pay their student loans. These programs aren’t uncommon among private student loan lenders and can be helpful. 

However, they may extend the loan term and increase the overall cost due to accumulated interest. The impact on a borrower’s credit will depend on the specific terms of the assistance program. Nelnet offers one assistance program for borrowers experiencing temporary financial hardship:

  • Deferment: Pause payments on your loan. Nelnet doesn’t provide details but states borrowers can request deferment via their online account or by contacting customer service. 

Understanding your loan terms is key to successful repayment. Be sure to review your agreement, and contact Nelnet or a financial advisor if you have any questions or are struggling to repay your loan.

Our take on Nelnet Bank’s refinance student loans

Based on our in-depth editorial research into student loan refinance products, no two lenders earn the same best-for designation. Nelnet Bank earned an editorial rating of 4.2 out of 5 and our best term lengths designation. 

Of all the lenders we rated, Nelnet offers the most repayment terms, with options from five to 25 years.

Rates, terms, and more

Nelnet Bank’s refinance student loans are an option for borrowers looking to reduce their interest rates or adjust their repayment terms. The rates fall within a competitive range when compared with other industry leaders.

Here are the specific details:

Loan amounts

Nelnet Bank offers refinance loans from $1,000 to the maximum student loan limits depending on the degree:

  • Graduate or doctorate degree: $175,000
  • MBA or graduate law degree: $175,000
  • Graduate health professions degree: $500,000

Rates (APR)

  • Fixed: 5.34%10.79%
  • Variable: 7.35%14.00%

Cosigner release

Nelnet allows for cosigner release after 24 months of consecutive on-time payments.

Fees

A late fee is applied if payment is not made within 15 days of the due date, and a fee for returned payments is also in place.

Unique features

Nelnet Bank is unique in offering student loan refinancing to borrowers who pursued a variety of degree types, including those in health professions.

Who’s eligible to refinance student loans with Nelnet Bank?

Refinancing student loans with Nelnet Bank is a viable option for those who have graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

Nelnet accepts cosigners, which can benefit applicants who may not meet credit or income requirements on their own. 

Here’s a table outlining the key eligibility requirements:

RequirementDetails
CitizenshipBorrower or cosigner must be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency status and a valid Social Security number
State of residenceAvailable in all 50 states and the District of Columbia
Minimum credit scoreBorrower or cosigner must have at least a mid-600 FICO score
Graduation statusYou must have graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher

Meeting these requirements can bolster your chances, but it doesn’t assure loan approval. Every application is unique, and Nelnet Bank reviews multiple factors to assess each loan request.

How do you repay Nelnet Bank refinanced student loans?

Your chosen repayment plan, term length, and any assistance programs can affect your repayment process. Most refinanced student loans follow similar repayment schemes, but specifics may differ based on the borrower’s choices and circumstances.

When does repayment begin?

For Nelnet Bank’s refinance student loans, repayment begins 30 to 45 days after the lender pays off the loans you’re refinancing. 

How long does repayment last?

The repayment term you select when you apply will determine how long your repayment period lasts. Nelnet Bank’s repayment terms can range from five to 20 years, so you can choose a term that aligns with your financial goals. 

Paying off your loan early is an option, and there’s no penalty. However, remember that shorter terms imply larger monthly payments but less interest paid over time, while longer terms lead to smaller monthly payments but more interest over the loan’s lifespan.

Are there repayment assistance programs?

Repayment assistance programs can be lifesavers during challenging times. Nelnet Bank advises that borrowers can request deferment in their online account or by contacting customer service.

Deferment allows you to pause making payments on your loan. However, interest continues to accrue during this period, which could increase the total cost of your loan.

Assistance options can help you navigate rough financial patches but aren’t long-term solutions. If you’re considering these options, it’s crucial to understand the implications.

How can Nelnet Bank improve its student loans?

Nelnet Bank offers a decent suite of loan products but has shortcomings. Opportunities to improve include loosening credit history requirements for borrowers and cosigners, offering a shorter cosigner release period, and being more transparent about repayment assistance.

Credit requirements

Nelnet Bank demands a strong credit history from borrowers or cosigners. This could be a stumbling block for those without an established credit history or with poor credit. 

Alternatives for those with less-than-stellar credit and no cosigner:

Cosigner release period

If you aim to release your cosigner earlier, consider these options:

  • Sallie Mae (which we determined best for cosigners, cosigner release after 12 months)
  • Ascent (12 months)

Lack of transparency

Nelnet Bank doesn’t disclose clear repayment assistance. 

For clarity:

  • Consider SoFi (which we determined best for career services for its unemployment protection).

Refinance loan requirements

Nelnet Bank requires a robust credit history and a bachelor’s degree for loan refinancing. 

For refinancing without a degree:

  • Citizens Bank (our best student loan refinance for a large bank, doesn’t require borrowers to have graduated)

If you find Nelnet Bank’s cons outweighing the pros, consider:

How have Nelnet Bank student loans evolved over the years?

Nelnet Bank has a rich history in the student loan industry. 

  • 1978: Nelnet started its journey as a federal student loan servicer.
  • 2020: Nelnet launched Nelnet Bank, adding student loan refinance to its portfolio. Alongside these developments, U-Fi by Nelnet had already become a key player in private student loans.
  • 2022: Nelnet phased out U-Fi and transferred its private student loan business to Nelnet Bank.

As the student loan industry landscape continues to evolve, so might Nelnet Bank’s offerings. 

Is Nelnet Bank a reputable lender?

When deciding on a lender, reading other customers’ reviews can be helpful. However, likely due to Nelnet Bank’s novelty, it has few reviews on three trusted customer review platforms:

SourceCustomer ratingNumber of reviews
Trustpilot1.7 out of 521
Google1.7 out of 56
Better Business Bureau0

Collected on February 3, 2024.

Trustpilot’s transparency and openness make it a trusted source for consumers to share and research experiences. The few reviews for Nelnet Bank on Trustpilot vary. 

A satisfied customer reported a positive experience refinancing their medical school loans, while another mentioned errors with the website when trying to set up autopay. A review from a job applicant also contributes to the mixed score.

Google’s reviews are similar. The Better Business Bureau (BBB), a renowned platform known for its objective reporting, has no reviews to rate for Nelnet. However, one complaint was logged over the past 12 months related to a dispute about credit report information. 

Nelnet Bank holds a C+ BBB rating, and it is not BBB-accredited. This accreditation can signify a business’s commitment to resolving customer concerns. Many reputable institutions function without this accreditation, so it’s not the sole indicator of a lender’s quality and reliability.

Does Nelnet Bank have a customer service team?

Nelnet Bank’s customer service team is a resource for borrowers needing loan assistance. Whether you need help understanding the terms of your loan, troubleshooting repayment issues, or answering other loan-related questions, this team is there to help.

Unlike lenders who outsource loan servicing, Nelnet Bank services its loans, meaning it handles all communication about loan repayment. This arrangement can make the borrowing experience smoother and more integrated.

Here’s how to get in touch with Nelnet Bank’s customer service team:

  • Call: You can reach a representative by dialing 800-446-4190, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central time.
  • Email: For questions that don’t require an immediate response, email [email protected].
  • Chat: Nelnet Bank has an online chat option you can access from its application page. Click the green and white chat button in the bottom right corner. 
  • At the time of writing, Nelnet Bank does not publish mailing address for customer service inquiries.

Customer service is a crucial aspect of a lender’s operations. We believe borrowers deserve clear, accurate, and friendly assistance for loan-related concerns.

How to apply for a Nelnet Bank student loan

Applying for a Nelnet Bank student loan is a straightforward process, similar to what you’d find with other lenders. Whether you’re aiming to refinance or obtain a new private student loan, a clear understanding of the application process will help you navigate it with ease.

Here’s the step-by-step process to apply for a student loan from Nelnet Bank:

1. Select the type of loan

Start by selecting “Student Loan Refinance” or “Private Student Loans” from Nelnet’s homepage.

Source: Nelnet Bank

Source: Nelnet Bank

Source: Nelnet Bank

Source: Nelnet Bank

2. Check your rate

You can get a rate quote in about two minutes. This initial check uses a soft credit pull that won’t hurt your credit score.

3. Submit your application

Select your loan, and sign the credit agreement. Nelnet will then conduct a hard credit inquiry, which could affect your credit score.

4. Prepare your documents, and select your preferred terms

Have your proof of income statements and loan statements ready to upload. You’ll need your Social Security number, birthdate, and address, along with details about your income, housing expenses, school, and loan amount. Choose the loan rate, term, and payment that work best for you. 

5. Accept the loan

Once Nelnet approves your documents and you accept the loan, you’ll have a three-day window to cancel. After that, Nelnet sends the funds to your current lenders (for refinance loans) or to your school (for private student loans).

6. Set up repayment

You’ll get an email to set up an online repayment account. For refinance loans, your first payment will be due about 45 days after your new loan is funded. For private student loans, when you set up repayment will depend on the plan you selected.

It can take 10 to 14 days from starting the application to having funds available, but we recommend applying well in advance of when you’ll need the money to account for any unexpected delays. 

What if I’m denied a student loan from Nelnet Bank?

If you’re denied a loan, Nelnet Bank should provide a reason for the denial, and it’s often tied to your credit score or income. With this information, you can identify areas to work on before reapplying. 

If you have a low credit score, focusing on credit-building actions—e.g., on-time payments and debt reduction—can help improve your score over time.

Consider getting a cosigner to enhance your chances of approval. However, if a cosigner isn’t an option, check out our resources on the best student loans without a cosigner. It’s a list for those who might be in your situation.

If you’re looking to refinance and Nelnet Bank isn’t an option, take a look at our best student loan refinancing options. Don’t hesitate to explore these other options and find the one that’s right for you.

Nelnet Bank FAQ

Does Nelnet Bank offer private or federal student loans?

Nelnet Bank offers private student loans and student loan refinancing. Nelnet Bank’s parent company, Nelnet Inc., is a major federal student loan servicer, but Nelnet Bank is separate and focuses on private lending and refinancing.

Does applying with Nelnet Bank hurt my credit?

Applying for a loan with Nelnet Bank initially involves a soft credit inquiry, which doesn’t affect your credit score. However, once you choose a loan offer and proceed, Nelnet performs a hard credit inquiry. Hard inquiries can lower your credit score by a few points, but the impact should diminish over time.

Does Nelnet Bank require a cosigner?

Nelnet Bank doesn’t require a cosigner for its loans, but having one can improve your chances of approval and help you secure a lower interest rate. It’s best for students who have a limited credit history or income. However, individuals with an established credit history and a stable income might be able to qualify on their own.

Does Nelnet Bank allow cosigners to be released?

Yes, Nelnet Bank allows borrowers to request to release their cosigner after making 24 consecutive, on-time principal and interest payments and meeting credit requirements.

What can Nelnet Bank student loans be used for?

You can use Nelnet Bank student loans for various education-related expenses, including tuition, room and board, books, and supplies. Nelnet will send the funds to the school first, and you can use any remaining funds after covering school costs for other education-related expenses.

How long does it take to receive funds from Nelnet Bank?

Typically, once you’ve selected a loan, uploaded the necessary documents, and signed the final agreement, it can take between 10 to 14 days to get funds.

Is Nelnet Bank responsible for paying off my current student loans?

If you refinance with Nelnet Bank, it will use the new loan to pay off your current student loans. Nelnet handles the payment to your current lenders. You’ll then start making repayments to Nelnet Bank on the new loan.

Can Nelnet Bank student loans be forgiven?

Private student loans from Nelnet Bank aren’t eligible for federal forgiveness programs. However, in case of death or permanent disability of the borrower, Nelnet Bank might offer loan forgiveness. For more details, refer to your loan agreement or contact Nelnet Bank.

How we rated Nelnet Bank student loans

We designed LendEDU’s editorial rating system to help consumers identify companies that offer the best financial products. Our experts spend hours researching these companies each year to ensure our ratings are fresh and accurate.

In our most recent evaluation, we compared Nelnet Bank to several lenders across a number of factors, including rates, repayment terms, customer reviews, and benefits. We weighted, scored, and combined these factors to produce a final editorial rating. This rating is expressed on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest possible score. We round all ratings to the nearest tenth decimal place.

Student loanBest forOur rating (of 5)
Undergraduate student loanNone4.0View rates
Graduate student loanNoneNo ratingView rates
Student loan refinanceTerm lengths4.2View rates