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What happened to Navient and who is Aidvantage? Your student loan questions answered

CNET logo CNET 4 days ago Courtney Johnston
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On Thursday, Navient reached a $1.86 billion settlement deal to cancel $1.7 billion in private student loans for some 66,000 borrowers. Accused of predatory student loan practices, Navient agreed to pay $95 million to borrowers who were saddled with long-term forbearance plans that forced them to pay more than they should have.

Navient, the biggest name in student loans, went out of the student loan business in September last year, transferring its 5.6 million student loan caseload to Maximus, a global administrator of government programs. Maximus is a federal student loan servicer and manages Navient's former student loans under the name Aidvantage.

Though Navient itself is not a lender, it managed the repayment process for student loans on behalf of the government up until former President Donald Trump paused student debt payments in March 2020 in response to COVID-19. That measure has been extended multiple times by President Joe Biden, including most recently on Dec. 22. Student debt obligations remain on hold until May 1, 2022, in large part due to the surge of the omicron variant.

With the repayment moratorium extended and public service student loan forgiveness expansions, there's a lot to keep track of. If you're one of the millions of borrowers who had a Navient-serviced loan, here's what you need to know.

Why did Navient withdraw from the student loan business?

Navient was long under fire from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which sued the loan servicer in 2017 claiming that the company had pushed borrowers into costly, subprime, private loans they would be unable to repay. Navient reached a 1.86 million settlement on Jan. 13, 2022. 

In 2020, the US Department of Education announced changes to loan servicing in an effort to modernize the federal student loan system. As part of the Next Gen Initiative, the Department of Education extended its partnership with five of the 10 current loan servicers, which would continue servicing federal student loans, but under stricter government regulations. Navient, along with FedLoan and Granite State, opted to end their participation in federal student loan servicing at the end of 2021.

Michael Lux, a student loan expert, and attorney and founder of The Student Loan Sherpa, said that the "increase in federal regulation and government scrutiny over federal loan servicing is almost certainly to blame for Navient's departure." 

What does Navient's departure mean for borrowers?

If your loans were serviced by Navient, here's what you need to know:


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1. Aidvantage is your new loan servicer

By now, you should have been notified of this change by mail or email from Navient, Aidvantage and the Department of Education. If you have not received notification, you should log into your existing Navient account and double-check your contact information to make sure it's correct. Even if your address was outdated, you should be able to log into your new account. 

2. You can log into your Aidvantage account with your Navient credentials

If you try to log into Navient, you'll find a $0 balance -- this balance is simply showing that your loans have been purchased by Aidvantage. To log into your new account, visit www.aidvantage.com and enter your Navient login information.

The process is nearly identical to Navient's. Once you enter your login and password, you'll be prompted to enter your Social Security number or account number and date of birth to confirm your identity. From there, you'll be taken to the Aidvantage account home page, which looks and feels just like the Navient landing page -- right down to the left-hand navigation options.

If you can't remember your login information, select "forgot user ID" or "forgot password" and confirm a personal identification question to have a new one emailed to you. If you still can't get in or no longer have access to the email on file, reach out to Aidvantage for assistance at 800-722-1300.

3. Your repayment preferences should be the same

Any payment terms you set up with Navient -- autopay, deferment, income-driven repayment plans, etc. -- should have transferred seamlessly to Aidvantage. Of course, since federal student loan payments have been paused for over 20 months, you may need to review the payment details, particularly with the end of forbearance approaching. And, if your job situation has changed since you last reviewed your loan repayment options, you may want to apply for income-driven repayment or other repayment options through Aidvantage now, so you're ready to go when repayment begins in May 2022.  

So after logging into Aidvantage, you should find that your preferred payment method and autopay selection transferred over, along with payment history and record of loans paid in full.

4. You may experience some hiccups or delays during the transition

Be sure to login before the federal moratorium on student loan payments expires on May 1, 2022, to review your contact information and double-check your transferred loan amounts.

If you do notice any issues, you should reach out to Aidvantage. You can use the website's AI support service, CORA, or Customer Online Resource Assistant, or reach out directly by phone at 800-722-1300. Be sure to have your account information handy. You can also find contact numbers for your specific loan type on Aidvantage's contact page.

Bear in mind, the transition may slow things down. Customer support response times might be delayed as account information is transferred, particularly if your account is in forbearance. "It will be interesting to see how the new servicers will handle the transition and training of new borrower support calls," said Fred Amrein, CEO and founder of PayForED. "Borrowers should anticipate a longer response time." 

5. Prepare for repayment in 2022

If you haven't been paying your loans during the forbearance period, be sure to review your payment options now, so you're ready to go in May. Double-check your payment method, make sure you know your minimum monthly payment and explore repayment options if you need additional assistance. If you want to explore further deferment or forbearance options, you can do this through your account online under "repayment options." You can also speak to Aidvantage directly at 800-722-1300.

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