Nelnet Bank Reviews: Private Student Loans and Student Loan Refinancing

Nelnet Bank student loans and student loan refinancing are an option for borrowers who need a co-signer or who might need flexibility on payments in the future.
By Cecilia Clark 

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Student loan ratings

Nelnet Bank Student Loan Refinance
  • Student loan refinancing

  • Private student loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

Nelnet Bank offers student loans and student loan refinancing. Its products are best for borrowers who may need wiggle room on payments.

Student loan refinancing review

Nelnet Bank Student Loan Refinance

5.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score
680
Fixed APR
4.49-9.44%
Variable APR
6.81-13.47%
Check rate

on Nelnet Bank's website

Pros

  • International students can apply with a co-signer who is a qualified U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • You can see if you'll qualify and what rate you'll get without a hard credit check.

Cons

  • Below-average customer support compared with other lenders.

  • Doesn't allow biweekly payments via autopay.

Best for borrowers who may need wiggle room on payments.

Full Review

Refinancing student loans through Nelnet Bank is a good option for borrowers who don't have strong enough credit to qualify independently but have a creditworthy co-signer. It's also a good fit for borrowers who might need flexibility on payments in the future.

Applicants with credit scores as low as 640 can be accepted if they apply with a co-signer who has a score of at least 680. It also offers longer-than-average forbearance periods, allowing borrowers to postpone payments for up to 12 months throughout their loan term.

Nelnet Bank at a glance

  • Generous forbearance policy.

  • Co-signer release option.

  • Longer-than-average forbearance periods.

How Nelnet Bank could improve

Nelnet Bank could improve by:

  • Assigning customers a dedicated student loan advisor.

  • Allowing biweekly payments via autopay.

Nelnet Bank student loan refinancing details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: Yes.

  • Loan terms: Multiple loan terms available.

  • Loan amounts: Minimum loan amount: $5,000; Maximum student loan limits: $125,000 for borrowers with an undergraduate degree, $175,000 for borrowers with a graduate or doctorate degree, $175,000 for borrowers with an MBA or graduate law degree, $500,000 for borrowers with a graduate health professions degree.

  • Can transfer a parent loan to the child: Yes.

  • Application or origination fee: No.

  • Prepayment penalty: No.

  • Late fees: Yes; $25.

Compare Nelnet Bank's range of interest rates with other student loan refinance lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate Nelnet Bank will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: 640, with qualified co-signer.

  • Minimum income: $36,000.

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.

  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 45%.

  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Yes; after seven years.

Other

  • Citizenship: International students can apply with a co-signer who is a qualified U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • Location: Available in all U.S. states.

  • Must have graduated: Yes.

  • Must have attended a school authorized to receive federal aid: Yes.

  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Did not disclose.

Many lenders are offering relief related to COVID-19. Check this list of private loan relief options to see what this lender offers.

  • Academic deferment: Yes, borrowers can postpone payments if they return to school.

  • Military deferment: Yes, borrowers can postpone payments while serving in the military.

  • Forbearance: Yes, borrowers experiencing an economic hardship can postpone payments in increments of two or three months with a maximum of 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan.

  • Natural disaster forbearance: Borrowers can postpone payments if they're involved in a natural disaster.

  • Co-signer release available: Yes.

  • Death or disability discharge available: Yes.

  • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No.

Repayment preferences:

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services.

  • In-house customer service team: No.

  • Process for escalating concerns: No. Complaints are handled by Nelnet's customer service team.

  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

  • Average time from approval to payoff: 3 days.

Before refinancing with Nelnet Bank

You can apply for a Nelnet Bank refinanced student loan on its website. Before deciding on a student loan refinance lender, compare multiple student loan refinance options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, compare lenders’ repayment options and the flexibility they offer borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

If you aren’t eligible to refinance with Nelnet Bank

If Nelnet Bank denies your refinance application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other lenders or using a co-signer.

NerdWallet recommends prequalifying with multiple refinance lenders before you apply. This will let you know which lenders you may be eligible with, without affecting your credit.

STUDENT LOAN REFINANCE RATINGS METHODOLOGY

Our survey of more than 29 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and the top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 41 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

How does this loan compare?

Nelnet Bank Student Loan Refinance
Earnest Student Loan Refinance
Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score

680

Min. credit score

680

Min. credit score

660

Fixed APR

4.49-9.44%

Fixed APR

4.47-8.99%

Fixed APR

4.49-7.00%

Variable APR

6.81-13.47%

Variable APR

4.47-8.94%

Variable APR

4.74-7.65%

Private student loan review

Nelnet Bank Private Student Loan
Nelnet Bank Private Student Loan

4.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score
680
Fixed APR
4.49-14.32%
Variable APR
4.74-14.77%

Pros

  • Offers 13 options for flexible post-graduation repayment, which is more than most lenders.

  • Provides rate offer with soft credit check.

  • Borrowers enrolled less than half-time can qualify.

Cons

  • Does not disclose full underwriting requirements.

  • Borrowers may not know what to expect with hardship forbearance as it is granted case-by-case.

  • Does not allow bi-weekly payments via autopay.

Best for borrowers who value flexibility in repayment.

Full Review

Nelnet Bank started offering student loans for undergraduate and graduate students in 2022. It continues to offer student loan refinancing.

Nelnet Bank private student loans are available to borrowers in all 50 states. It is also one of the few lenders that offers loans to borrowers attending community colleges and those enrolled less than half time.

Nelnet Bank also stands out with its flexible repayment options. While most borrowers offer three or fewer options, Nelnet Bank offers 13. After graduation, borrowers may have access to the following plans:

  • Permanent loan modification.

  • Interest-only payments.

  • Graduated repayment.

  • Temporary income-based payments.

  • Internship deferment.

  • Residency deferment.

  • Administrative forbearance.

  • Natural disaster forbearance.

  • Temporary interest rate reduction.

  • Temporary lower payments.

  • Paused and decreased payments for temporary disability.

  • Fellowship deferment.

  • Military deferment.

However, Nelnet Bank’s hardship forbearance program is less generous than many other lenders. It grants hardship forbearance on a case-by-case basis only.

To qualify for a Nelnet Bank private student loan, you must have a credit score of at least 680 or have a co-signer who does.

Nelnet Bank at a glance

  • One of few lenders that offers loans to community college students and those enrolled less than half time.

  • Allows applicants to see which rate they qualify for without affecting their credit.

  • No origination fee.

How Nelnet Bank could improve

Nelnet Bank private student loan details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: Yes.

  • Loan terms: 5, 10, or 15 years.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 - $500,000.

  • Application or origination fee: No.

  • Prepayment penalty: No.

  • Late fees: Yes.

Compare Nelnet Bank's range of interest rates with other student loan providers. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate Nelnet Bank will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: 680.

  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.

  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.

  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Did not disclose.

Other

  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or a non-U.S. citizen with a creditworthy co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • DACA borrowers: Yes, with a citizen or resident co-signer.

  • Location: Available to borrowers in all 50 states.

  • Must be enrolled half time or more: No.

  • Loan can be used for past-due tuition: Yes.

  • Types of schools served: Borrowers must attend a school that is a part of the federal Title IV program.

  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Did not disclose.

In-school repayment options:

  • Immediate repayment: Make full payments as soon as the loan is disbursed, while you’re still in school.

  • Deferred repayment: Don’t make any payments while you’re in school.

  • Interest-only repayment: Pay interest every month that you’re in school and during the grace period.

Post-school repayment options:

  • Grace period: 6 months.

  • Income-based repayment option: No.

  • Academic deferment: Yes.

  • Military deferment: Yes.

  • Forbearance: Case by case.

  • Permanent loan modification: Yes.

  • Interest-only payments: Yes.

  • Graduated repayment: Yes.

  • Temporary income-based payments: Yes.

  • Internship deferment: Yes.

  • Residency deferment: Yes.

  • Administrative forbearance: Yes.

  • Natural disaster forbearance: Yes.

  • Temporary interest rate reduction: Yes.

  • Temporary lower payments: Yes.

  • Paused and decreased payments for temporary disability: Yes.

  • Fellowship deferment: Yes.

  • Co-signer release available: Yes, after 24 months of on-time payments.

  • Death or disability discharge available: Yes.

  • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No.

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services.

  • In-house customer service team: Yes.

  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.

  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

  • Average time from approval to payout: 3 business days or more.

Before applying for a Nelnet Bank loan

Before taking out a Nelnet Bank student loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

Compare your private student loan options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.

If you aren’t eligible for a Nelnet Bank student loan

If Nelnet Bank denies your student loan application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other lenders or, if you haven’t already, try applying with a co-signer.

If you don’t have access to a co-signer — or still aren’t eligible with one — consider lenders that don’t require co-signers or that specialize in bad-credit or no-credit student loans.

STUDENT LOAN RATINGS METHODOLOGY

Our survey of more than 29 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 40 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

Frequently asked questions