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Nelnet Student Loans: 2024 Review

Updated on Jan. 1, 2024

At a glance

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Check rate with Bankrate
4.4
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
Bankrate Score
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Repayment Options
Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5
4.8
Affordability
Rating: 3.9 stars out of 5
3.9
Customer Experience
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
4.5

About Bankrate Score

Nelnet Bank is known for servicing federal student loans, but it also offers private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students. It has low rates compared to other lenders on the market, and depending on your degree program, you may be eligible for up to $500,000. 

Lender Details

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Loan amount

$1,000 to $500,000

Rates

APR from

6.29% Variable; 4.49% Fixed

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Term lengths

5 to 20 years

Nelnet features

Nelnet Bank, formerly U-fi from Nelnet, offers private student loans and refinancing, with a simple application process and a robust catalog of articles about student loans and paying for college. Many Nelnet reviews are also positive making it a good option for students entering college for the first time.

That said, its borrowing caps are relatively low, especially if you’re applying as an undergraduate. While many student loan lenders let you borrow up to the total cost of your education, Nelnet sets the limit at $125,000 for undergraduates. Graduate students earning a health professions degree can borrow up to $500,000.

Nelnet: In the details

Pros and cons of Nelnet student loans

Nelnet student loans are flexible and can fund your undergraduate or graduate education. Here’s what you need to know before you apply.

PROS

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    Clear eligibility requirements: Nelnet is upfront about its eligibility requirements for student loans, including minimum credit score and income requirements. This makes it easier to determine if the lender is right for you.

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    Plenty of repayment options: Borrowers can choose a term between five and 15 years.

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    Co-signer release: After 24 consecutive on-time payments, you can release your co-signer if desired.

CONS

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    Low loan caps for undergraduates: Undergraduate borrowers may borrow only up to $125,000. Graduate students can borrow up to $175,000, or $500,000 for graduates earning a health professions degree.

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    High credit score requirements: Borrowers with credit scores below the mid-600s may find it harder to acquire a loan from Nelnet.

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    Less-clear eligibility requirements: Nelnet used to detail its eligibility requirements, including minimum credit score and income. But its current listed eligibility requirements are less specific.

Nelnet student loan requirements

In order to apply for a private student loan with Nelnet, you must:

  • Be enrolled at least half time at an eligible college or university.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, or have an eligible co-signer who meets the requirements.
  • Have a credit score in the mid to high 600s
  • Have no previous defaults on a student loan.

Those applying for a refinance loan must also have graduated with a bachelor’ degree or higher.

Who is this loan good for?

Nelnet's student loans are good for borrowers with above-average credit who want flexibility when it comes to repayment terms and options. Nelnet's interest rates for good-credit borrowers are competitive. If you don’t have good credit or a co-signer with good credit, you may be better off applying with another lender.

Interest rates

Nelnet has an autopay discount: You can save 0.25 percent by setting up automatic payments. The rates below include this discount.

Loan product Variable rate Fixed rate
Private student loans 6.29% to 15.51% APR 4.49% to 15.47% APR

Fees and penalties

Nelnet does not charge an origination fee. However, it does charge a late payment fee of 5 percent of the amount of the due payment or $25, whichever amount is less, on payments that are more than 15 days past due. You will also be assessed a $20 fee on returned payments.

Repayment terms and grace period

Nelnet has fairly straightforward repayment terms. The grace period is six months, and repayment terms are five to 15 years for private student loans and five to 20 years for refinance loans. When you receive your loan, you have three repayment options:

  • Immediate repayment: Make full principal and interest payments as soon as the loan is disbursed.
  • Interest-only: Make interest-only payments while in school.
  • Deferment: Make no payments until after you graduate.

Customer service

Nelnet has an A+ rating. The BBB’s score considers complaint history and how well the institution has responded to those complaints. 

Its customer service can be reached at 800-446-4190 or by email. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 7am to 8pm (Central Time). 

How to apply for a loan with Nelnet

Nelnet’s application process is completely online. In order to apply, you’ll need to gather information like your Social Security number, your estimated annual income, your school name, the amount you’d like to borrow and your credit score. After approval, you’ll be offered an interest rate.

Here’s what the process looks like when applying for a student loan through Nelnet:

Nelnet frequently asked questions

How Bankrate rates Nelnet

Overall Score 4.4 Explanation
Availability 4.8 Nelnet has a low loan minimum and is available nationwide; however, its loan maximums are relatively low.
Affordability 3.9 Nelnet earns high marks for its low interest rates, though it does charge a few fees and has a short grace period.
Customer Experience 4.5 While Nelnet has a good online platform and a mobile app, its customer service hours are not disclosed.

Methodology

The Bankrate team evaluated over a dozen lenders to select our top picks for the best student loans. To do this, Bankrate considers 14 factors, including loan amounts, fees, repayment terms and options, as well as fixed and variable APR ranges. Then, lenders are rated using our vetting system known as the Bankrate Score, which focuses on three main categories.

  • Availability: We looked at minimum and maximum loan amounts, as well as the lender’s eligibility requirements, co-signer option, degrees covered and state availability. Lenders that offered the most flexibility as well as nationwide servicing and that offered financing for a variety of programs ranked higher in this section.
  • Affordability: Fixed and variable interest rates, fees, penalties and discounts were measured in this category. Lenders with the lowest rates, fewer fees and multiple discounts got the higher scores.
  • Customer experience: Our team looked at the ease of the application process, as well as online account management tools, customer support hours, app availability, repayment options and grace periods offered by the lenders. This allowed us to determine the lenders’ ability to satisfactorily serve customers.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.