For more than a decade, Nelnet has been doing business with those who are trying to find an effective way to pay for a higher education. There are plenty of people who have either gone through college or are currently enrolled who have an account with the company. However, that doesn’t mean that you really know everything you probably should know about them. Below are twenty things you might want to consider next time you are trying to get something straightened out about your student loans.
1. You probably have a loan with them
Unless you have paid for college out of your own pocket as you have gone along, you probably have at least one loan with this company. The truly scary thing is that for a lot of students, it doesn’t stop at just one loan. In fact, many people have at least two separate loans with them and some could have even more. When it comes time to pay those loans back, you will have to pay interest rates on every single one of them. This can drive your costs up exponentially so it’s important to be aware of what you;re getting yourself into.
2. You can sometimes get funding from them when you can’t get it anywhere else
There is one thing that really sets them apart from just about everyone else in the game and that is the fact that when you can’t get funding from any other source, they will usually come through with something for you. Of course, you’ll end up paying for it later because if you;re having trouble getting funding for college, it might be because you have some credit issue that will cause you to pay your loan back at a much higher interest rate. In addition, they will normally work with you when the Department of Education says that you are no longer eligible for a more traditional loan.
3. They have people there who can walk you through everything
It doesn’t matter of you’re trying to get funding for college or if you have questions about your bill, they can help you. As a matter of fact, the majority of their workers are more than happy to help you walk through all of your questions so that you can gain a better understanding of what you need to do in order to finish your education without allowing a lack of funding to stand in the way. They are typically just as helpful when you’re trying to figure out how you will pay all of that money back once you have graduated.
4. Getting to those people can sometimes be frustrating
They can help you, there is no question about that. That being said, actually getting to a real live person can often prove to feel more like an exercise in futility. They have this enormous automatic answering system that makes you feel like you are caught in some kind of diabolical loop. It can take as much as twenty minutes just to get through all of that so you can actually talk to a person. The computer system likes to tell you that it can help when in reality, most people aren’t the least bit interested in trying to work through something with that system. What they want is someone who can answer their questions and help guide them, not some computer that just keeps spitting out the same information over and over again. In addition, be prepared to provide all of your personal information to this automated system and then do it all again when you finally do get through to a human being. No one will ever understand why providing this information once isn’t enough, but it never seems to be.
5. You have to know the rules because their staff may not
Whatever you do, make sure that you gain an understanding of when your payments are due, how much they will cost you, the payment plan that you are on, and when, if ever, a portion of those loans might possibly be forgiven. Their staff is relatively good but they don’t always tell you the same thing. There have been instances where one person would tell a customer something and then another person would tell them something completely different, sometimes even on the very same day. If something doesn’t sound right to you or you don’t fully understand what they are telling you, do not be afraid to ask for clarification. If you feel like you need to, ask to speak with a supervisor or at the very least, ask for another associate to talk to you so you can see if you two different people are telling you the same thing. If they don’t bring it to their attention right then and get a straight answer to your questions before you move on.
6. You can also maintain your account online
They do have it set up so that you can handle most things about your account online. This means that you won’t likely have to deal with the whole phone situation unless you have a question that necessitates you speaking to someone in real time about it.
7. You can still have them mail paper statements if you prefer
Some people just don’t want to deal with the online account. In reality, it can be something of a pain and in some cases, you are dealing with people who just prefer to have things of this nature on paper where they can hold it in their hands and look at it when they want to. Some people feel more secure about these types of bills when they have a paper copy that they can file away. If that sounds like you, you can request that they send you everything through the mail as opposed to sending you emails and asking you to go online to see what’s happening with your account.
8. They are based in Nebraska
A lot of people don’t know this, sometimes not even the ones who have account with the company. They are based right smack in the middle of America’s heartland, in Lincoln, Nebraska.
9. They are publicly traded on the stock market
This surprises a lot of people because they don’t really think of a company that specializes in student loans being something that would be publicly traded but in reality, they have been for quite some time. As a matter of fact, it didn’t take them long at all after the company was formed for them to start being traded on the stock market, something that was virtually unheard of at the time. The thing is, this is a private company. They can be traded because they are not a government entity, nor are they associated with one. Many people get Nelnet and other companies like Sallie Mae confused, but Nelnet can do things these other companies might not necessarily be able to do, like be traded on the stock market.
10. They have more than 40 percent of all student loans in the country
They have a whopping number of student loans, In fact, they have almost half of all student loans in the country. At last count, they were determined to have about 42 percent of all student loans that are active in the United States. That’s a huge number, especially when you consider the fact that they are just one company. They have achieved a great deal of that business by buying up other companies that were smaller. Right now, they are the largest company of their type in the country.
11. Those loans add up to almost $400 billion
It might not surprise you that they the amount of their loans is a staggering $400 billion, especially when you consider just how many people in this country have at least one loan with them. When you consider the sheer size of this company and the cost of higher education these days, it’s actually sort of surprising that this number isn’t even higher. Nevertheless, this is a lot of money and it’s enough to keep most student loan borrowers up each night, all of them thinking about how they will be their portion back.
12. They have been questioned about their loan practices
They have been in trouble several times over and one of those issue was regarding the loans that they granted to people, often at a much higher cost than was necessary. They ended up having to pay a lot of money back to people when it was discovered that they frequently engaged in some unethical loan practices, one of which involved failing to completely disclose everything about the loans to the people who were responsible for repaying them.
13. They got in trouble for providing kickbacks, too
They also got flagged for providing a number of kickbacks to certain colleges and organizations. Mainly, the goals was to get these universities and other organizations to push the company on students so they would end up taking a loan out with them. When it was discovered that Nelnet was paying people to do this, they once again ended up in the hot seat for engaging in these types of practices. Ultimately, they got a slap on the wrist for it and were basically ordered to stop doing and refrain from engaging in those types of practices again.
14. There have been some questions concerning their political involvement
They have also been found to provide a great deal of support to some political campaigns, something that they have come under fire for doing on a number of different occasions. This is not something that you would think a company of this type would partake in, but they have done it many times over. They maintain that since they are a private company, they can do whatever they want when it comes to political contributions. That is not an outlook that has been shared by many outside of the company itself.
15. They also charged more than they should have in interest rates
They once again found themselves in the hot seat when it was discovered that for a number of years, they were charging students more in interest rates than they ever should have. They started doing this back in 2007 and they continued to do it for a number of years. It wasn’t until someone noticed the problem and spoke out that they were forced to stop doing it. They were also forced to pay restitution to all of the students they had been overcharging for so many years.
16. They haven’t been around all that long
This is not a company that has been around for decades on end. In fact, the company was just founded in 1996. However, they have purchased a number of other companies that had been in business for much longer, some of them for decades.
17. They give money to the United Way
They do participate in some charitable events, many of them to benefit the United Way. This is something they have done for several years now.
18. They also get involved in local communities
Many times, they tailor their charitable contributions to the communities in question. This allows them to give back more effectively because they can tailor there efforts to the exact needs of that particular community.
19. They can help you figure out how much you’ll owe on your loan
If you have some anxiety about how much you’ll finally end up owing on your student loan (and who doesn’t), you can contact them and get them to help you better understand it all. That can go a long way toward alleviating much of that anxiety.
20. If you can’t pay, they can help you find the right program
Sometimes, you need a different program so you can afford the payments. At other times, you just need to get the payments deferred until you can better handle them financially. If that’s the case, they can help you figure out what to do. The key is to communicate with them early enough that you still have some options available to you as opposed to just going silent and not paying up, which will get you into a lot of trouble.