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Resolving Complaints with Navient or Sallie Mae

If you have a complaint with Sallie Mae or Navient, the key to a positive outcome is to contact the right customer advocate.

Written By: Michael P. Lux, Esq.

Last Updated:

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Student loan borrowers have lots of complaints with Navient and Sallie Mae, but it seems these grievances often go unheard.

Of all the reader emails we receive, the most common boils down to the following: Sallie Mae/Navient did X… they should have done Y… what do you suggest I do?

Fortunately, there are several ways of dealing with Sallie Mae and Navient complaints.

Getting Started with Compliant Management

When resolving any student loan issue, the best thing you can do is get all your ducks in a row. If you had conversations via email, have all of your emails handy. If it is a billing issue, have your lender statements and your bank statements ready to go. Your goal should be to have any document that might be useful at your fingertips.

Where do I go for help when Sallie Mae or Navient Ignore my complaints?

Normally the first call to make is to the general customer service number. The person on the other end of the phone should be trained to help you find a solution, or to put you in touch with the right person. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

One practice that can be very helpful is to make sure that the person you are talking to has the authority to fix your problem. For example, suppose you submitted a payment over the phone and it was supposed to be applied towards loan A. Instead of applying it towards loan A, the service representative applied it towards loan B. When you call to have your issue fixed, make sure the person you are chatting with can help. You can ask them by saying: “I’m calling about a payment I made where funds were applied to the wrong account. Are you able to credit the proper account so that my payment is processed correctly?” If they cannot help you, ask to be connected to someone who has the authority to fix your problem.

Calling up the Navient and Sallie Mae Food Chain

If traditional customer service does not work, Sallie Mae and Navient both have customer service advocates. These individuals work for Sallie Mae or Navient, but they should be in a position to rectify any errors made. Think the customer advocate as ombudsman of sorts.

If you want to reach out to either customer advocate, their contact information is as follows:

Sallie Mae Advocate

Office of the Customer Advocate
P. O. Box 3349
Wilmington, DE 19804-4349

(855) 342-2014

Navient Customer Advocate

Office of the Customer Advocate
P. O. Box 4200
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773-4200

(888) 545-4199

Email Address:
[email protected]

What if Sallie Mae or Navient isn’t helping at all?

If you have done everything you can do with the company and not gotten anywhere, you still have options.

If you have Department of Education Loans (better known as federal loans), you can submit a Navient complaint to the Department of Education Ombudsman. The Ombudsman page with the Department of Education has a great explanation of the process, as well as contact information for getting things started.

If you have private loans, the Department of Education Ombudsman will not help.  Fortunately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can be of assistance. If you file a complaint against your lender with the CFPB, they will be required to respond to explain their side of the situation. Having the CFPB act as an intermediary lets Sallie Mae/Navient know you are serious, and it also can help shed light on the issues to all parties involved. Here at the Student Loan Sherpa, we have previously discussed the steps to filing a Student Loan complaint with the CFPB.

In some circumstances, it may be possible to transfer your student loans to another lender or servicer. For example, borrowers denied a cosigner release by Navient may choose to refinance their loans with a new lender.

Organizing Your Thoughts and Getting Actual Help

Often getting an issue resolved comes down to your patience and ability to explain the problem. Yelling, losing your temper, or getting frustrated will only get in the way of getting your issues resolved. The best thing you can do for yourself is to get the person on the other end of the phone on your side.  If they want to help you, things will be much easier.

One thing to remind yourself is to focus on the facts, not your feelings. If you complain by saying something isn’t fair, you are not going to get very far. If you focus on the facts of your particular issue, you will get further. You should try to fill in the blanks on the following before you make your call:

I have an issue with Sallie Mae because they ______________________.

This was improper because ______________________.

In order to fix this issue, I need someone to ______________________.

If you are able to explain what your issue is, why it is an issue, and how to get it fixed, your odds of success will be much higher.

About the Author

Student loan expert Michael Lux is a licensed attorney and the founder of The Student Loan Sherpa. He has helped borrowers navigate life with student debt since 2013.

Insight from Michael has been featured in US News & World Report, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other online and print publications.

Michael is available for speaking engagements and to respond to press inquiries.

25 thoughts on “Resolving Complaints with Navient or Sallie Mae”

  1. I was never told about my private student loans with Navient until recently . I never received a disclosure statement from them about this.

  2. My son’s private loan payment has gone from $1300 a month to $1700 a month in less than 5 months. We have paid 145,000 in the past 10 years and only 30,000 has been applied to principal.
    the amount owed now is actually higher than when he graduated.

    His Father and I have paid all bills for the past 10 years.
    We are not listed as co-signers since at the time he was entering college we did not have the credit to be co-signers. One co-signer has passed. Another is no longer a friend due to some missed payments in the past that they were hounded for and the other is my sister who is over 70 and is now on a limited income.

    Navient is not offering any solution that would help to create lower payments. We have offered to be co-signers on a consolidated loan. They tell us we cannot do this because we were not on the original loans.

    My son and his wife are expecting their first child, his father and I are both over 60 and we are all stressing about what to do.

    We do not want to default as this will negatively affect the original co-signers.

    We are desperately looking for suggestions and help. We do not want to default we just need lower payments.

  3. I have a late fee with my FFELP loans at Navient. When making a payment online, the total balance due shows the IDR amount, plus “unpaid fees” with a due date. These “unpaid fees” never seem to go away, and it has resulted in me paying more than the agreed upon IDR amount each month. I got clarification from Navient that payments are not applied to late/unpaid fees until unpaid interest is paid first, which accrues each month. But they make it seem like part of the total amount due is going toward satisfying these unpaid fees when, in fact, it does not. Extremely misleading. I feel like I’ve been getting tricked into paying more than I needed.

  4. Just want to understand if it is legal for Navient to report to the credit bureaus an increase in my student loan balances after they show that I have no payment due till 11/04/22? I ask because between August and September I payed off 3 of loans with them after which the website showed that my next payment was due on 11/04/22. I received a notice that there has been a decrease in my credit score. Upon investigating, I found that between September and the 19 of October, Navient added interest on my active loans and reported this to the credit bureaus while I am under the impression that I am in good standing/current with my account. This action caused my credit score to decrease 30+ points. Just want to understand if this is fair or legal practice.

  5. I made 6 payments to Sallie Mae via money order. I still have the 6 receipts. Amscot can still provide front and back of money orders. I put my SSN in the memo of each money order. Sallie Mae lost my 6 payments because they switched to Navient and I was never notified. They put my $40,000 stafford loan into default, charged me 25% penalty, sent it to collections where i paid an additional $11,000 in fees to them, and garnished my wages 25%. Once I rehabilitated my default, Sallie Mae found my 6 payments, acknowledged they lost them, told me I am SOL about the $30,000 in penalties as there is nothing they can do, then they mailed me a check for the total of my 6 payments. I was never 270 days late which put me into default. Sallie Mae told me to call Navient. Navient told me to call Sallie Mae. I called the obudsman and they told me neither Sallie Mae, nor Navient had any record of my 6 lost payments, or of writing me a check for the total of the 6 payments, which I cashed. I have 100% paper trail, and they refuse to credit my student loans for the $30,000 they cost me for their error, which they also need to credit me with the interest I paid for that additional $30,000 over the years. Sallie Mae, Navient, and the Obudsman have all failed me and I have a bank paper trail. It should be a slam dunk to prove their negligence. I started paying on these stafford loans in 2002. It has been 20 years.

  6. I was previously enrolled in school but left in Feb 2009 and went active duty from Mar 2009-2015. I was re-enrolled into school from 2015-2020. I informed Navient and requested a 6 month grace period upon graduation in Nov 2020. In May 2021. I received a late payment charge on my credit report. I notified Navient because my 6 months had just ended and I had not even received my 1st bill. They stated I did not get a 6 month grace period because I already used it in 2009. I informed them my loan was already in deferment in 2009 due to my active duty status so how can they say I use my 6 month. They said the time between I left school and started active duty initiated the 6 months. Okay, that maybe understandable but I definitely didn’t use the entire 6 months. They stated they can’t confirm because ECMA (or something like that) was the prior loan holder and they no longer have my loan history so they can verify how many months I used. How is it legal or ethical to take my remaining months when you can’t even verify how many I used in the first place?

    • It definitely sounds like you got a raw deal.

      I’d start with contacting the customer advocate to see if they can at least reverse the negative credit reporting.

      If they can’t help, it might be time to file a compliant with the CFPB.

  7. I have been studying the Navient Sallie Mae Signature Student Loan Promissory Note language. Apparently there are internal Navient Rules that block the number of forbearances beyond 48 months. However, in the Promissory Note terms, in the loans I have found that have forbearance terms, there is no limit on the number of months of forbearances.

  8. My $42,000 government student loan was with SallieMae, and the paperwork states that the interest is type 11 variable and that the interest rate cannot exceed 8.25%. I never refinanced the loan at a friends urging because I am a teacher who qualifies for the 10 year loan forgiveness program. I have the SallieMae paperwork, statements, & letters to prove it is still a public government loan and not a “private” loan.

    In 2015, Navient sent me a flyer stating that my older SallyMae loan number would be changed to a new 16-digit loan number for accounting purposes. Then, they labeled my $42,000 loan as private loan and since that time they have been charging me 10% interest and the loan balance has now ballooned to $125,000.

    How can they just change the status, identify, and rate of this loan?

    • Lots of good questions in this comment.

      For starters, Sallie Mae and Navient don’t have the right to change loans from federal to private. If they did that, they are literally stealing from the government. However, I should also note that the federal government last issued variable rate loans in 2006. If your loan is newer, it may have always been private. If there is a question about the loan, be sure to check out the Department of Education’s database on federal loans. If the loan is in there, it is definitely federal.

      As for the interest rate issue, it is certainly possible that they mistakenly increased the rate beyond the maximum listed in your loan contract. The loan getting a new number may have also gotten a new classification in error. If you still have that original paperwork, it will be incredibly helpful. I’d start by contacting Navient to correct the issue. If they won’t fix it, try the ombudsman and/or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as described in this article. These steps shouldn’t be too time-consuming from your perspective. If they do acknowledge the mistake, make sure you get credit for all the extra interest charges that they previously charged above the 8.25%.

      I’d suggest verifying the status of the loan and the interest rate first before turning to a private lender to refinance.

      Best of luck to you!

  9. Navient inconsistencies, no email provided to respond to their unauthorized emails. Fed up with Navient (a bottom feeder at best). If you call 10 different times – you get 10 different answers. What is grossly wrong is the fact that Navient sends out monthly payment invoices AFTER THE PAYMENT IS DUE and then charges the borrower a late fee. I filed a complaint with CFPB because of this (had envelopes with postmarks and letters to attach to complaint). I “specifically” told CFPB that NAVIENT WAS NOT TO GET MY EMAIL. Navient ignored that and sent an email despite being told not to. Now I have filed another complaint as Navient DOES NOT RESPOND to emails at all. Instead, they want the borrower to sign up online (so they can further call & harass the borrower). I will be sending via certified-return receipt mail the copy of the email I sent to Navient informing them they are not authorized to contact me via email. One error after another so it is not surprising that there has been multiple class actions. Our government should be ashamed of paying Navient to be a servicer for FFELP federal student loans. I would encourage everyone to write, call their legislators and continue to do so until we get these loans removed.

    • That is a tough question. Proving something like that would be difficult. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is probably best equipped to handle it.

      I’ve never had to report a financial crime to my local police or the FBI, so I wouldn’t know how to do it.

  10. This loan was arranged by the school I went to . I did not really understand that I was getting a Federal loan. I had the money to pay it all at the time. I was going to school to become a Dental Assistant at Concorde. No one told me that I could not assist a dentist because I was left handed. I finished school and attempted to assist a dentist, but I could not hand the dentist the instruments properly with my left hand. Therefore my schooling was for nothing. I became unemployed for three years My age came into play as I was close to 50. I received deferments until recently. I am 67 and living on my husband’s Social Security for the last year after his passing 3 years ago. Apparently they sold my loan to another company and they told me if I did not pay it, they could take it out of my social security, even if it meant I could not live on what was left. What can I do? PS I have never been able to reach anyone or use the web site.It would not let me in.

  11. How do I reach a cust serv rep inside the U.S.A.? Every call, no matter what phone number I dial, is answered by a Filipino. I have never authorized a Non-U.S. Citizen to view or have any access whatsoever to any of my account or personal information.

  12. I am a cosigner for a student who is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree, and made the mistake of accepting a loan with Sallie Mae. They initially told her that she had to start paying back the loan after graduating, but now it turns out that she has to pay immediately. Ok fine, we are making the payments on time, but Sallie Mae made a mistake on their system and they thought that a payment was late for just a few days, so they started calling us. They have automatic bot
    calls dialing my number sometimes starting from 8 am, multiple times a day, and when I answered the phone they were demanding in the most offensive way the reason for the student failing to pay the loan. It turns out that they made a mistake, and they apologized later, but their aggressiveness and their harassing strategies are just unbelievable. On top of this Sallie Mae keeps harassing me with emails too. Look, I am a reasonable person, I am a young professional who has been working as an engineer for five years, I always pay on time, and I’ve never submitted complains before, but Sallie Mae just crossed the line, what they are doing is called harassment. Their practices are unethical and might even be illegal, and they take advantage of students just to make a profit. I am working on submitting a formal complain, hopefully my complain will reach someone who can actually take decisions. And by the way, if you are a student who is recently starting a degree, please please please, don’t sign with Sallie Mae and make the same mistake that we did.

    • Jimmy, check the promissory note for the loan or request it. The first clause is the promise to pay, the next is definitions. In the definitions clause there should be a definition for “Interim Period”, that is what it is called from the first disbursement to graduation or the other conditions listed below. As far as I know all Sallie Mae loans have that included in there promissory notes. If you do then you need to call Sallie Mae on it and file a complaint with CFPB because if the underlining conditions are not met then the student is still in that interim period of non payment. If there is no definition or mention of an interim period then because the student signed the loan believing that they would get that interim period and the Sallie Mae representative stated that, you can file a claim of fraudulent misrepresentation, which is illegal.

  13. I’ve been looking all over the Internet for this advice. Thank you so much for this article. Do you know if Navient or the Navient Customer Advocate has the authority to reduce the loan amount, issue credit, or reduce a consolidated loan’s interest rate? If not do I have to ask for help elsewhere?
    I am asking for help on interest that has accumulated on a loan after a lengthly consolidation process. I used the online calculator on the Federal Website to see what Income Based repayment plans could do for me. When I saw the ICR was a reasonable monthly amount I called Navient multiple times, who also came up with the same estimate. After a messy consolidation process, and multiple errors placing me in the wrong income based repayment plan, the monthly repayment plan is 357 dollars more than the highest estimate I received for an ICR. They say it was due to a calculator glitch that lasted for months.
    It’s unconventional to ask for help with the interest that is now capitalizing on itself due to Navient’s errors so I’m not sure I’ll get anywhere. If you have the time could you let me know your thoughts on this situation?


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