4 Tips for Keeping Your Student Loans in Good Standing
There are many things that impact your credit score. Your student loans may help you establish good credit and increase your credit score—or they may lower your credit score if they are not kept in good standing. These four tips will go a long way toward helping you keep your student loans current.
- Monitor your account. Set up your account so you can receive important information about your loans. You can see current info about your account, such as your due date, monthly payment amount due, and current balance. Log in to your account regularly to monitor and make sure you keep your account current.
- Keep Nelnet updated. Make sure you keep Nelnet informed of any changes to your address, phone number, email address, or name. Even if you don’t receive notifications about your account, you’re still responsible for it. Don’t miss important updates!
- Make your monthly payment. Making timely monthly payments keeps your account current, and may have a positive impact on your credit score. Making early payments can reduce the amount of interest you pay or lower the current balance on your loan.
- Note: If you are in an income-based repayment plan, be aware that you may have a monthly payment amount that is less than your monthly interest accrual. In this case, you may want to call us at 888.486.4722 before making early payments so that you don’t increase your balance or negatively impact your credit score.
- Ask for help if you're having trouble making payments. The future is unpredictable, and many hardships that come up in life are unavoidable. The good news is that, with student loans, you have many options. If you’re having trouble making payments, log in to your account or call us at 888.486.4722 to review and discuss your options. You may be able to postpone your payments by qualifying for a deferment or forbearance, or you may be eligible for a lower monthly payment through an income based payment plan. These are much better options for you than doing nothing and allowing your loans to be reported past due. We’re here to help you!
As your student loan servicer, Nelnet reports information about your student loans to the three major credit agencies. Based on the information provided, each individual credit agency uses their own unique scoring model to determine your FICO credit score. The higher your score, the more likely you are to be approved for new credit, or offered a low interest rate.
What Student Loan Information is Reported to Credit Agencies?
Nelnet provides the below information about your student loans to the credit agencies on a monthly basis. See the Account Information Appendix for more detailed information on each section.
- Consumer Information – This includes identifying information, such as your name, address, telephone number, and Social Security Number (SSN).
- ECOA Code – This defines your relationship to the account. This will commonly indicate Individual, but it may also include Joint Contractual Liability or Co-maker/Maker if the loan includes an endorser or a co-maker.
- Account Status – This indicates the most recently reported status of the loan, such as open or closed, and if the loan is current or delinquent.
- Special Comments – These are used to note specific information about your loan (e.g., In a Forbearance or Account Closed Transferred).
- Terms of the Loan – This includes Portfolio Type, Account Type, Terms Duration, and Terms Frequency.
- Important Dates – These include the Date Opened, Date of the Last Payment, Date Closed, and Date of First Delinquency.
- Specific amounts that pertain to the loan – These include the Current Balance, Original Loan Amount, Actual Payment Amount, and Scheduled Monthly Payment Amount
- Payment History – This displays the payment history for each month in the past (up to 7 years), and will indicate any months the loan was reported as being in a delinquent status.
What are Nelnet’s Standard Reporting Practices?
These credit reporting practices apply to all of the student loans serviced by Nelnet.
- Nelnet will begin to report a loan delinquent once it is 90 days or more past due.
- Nelnet reports to the credit agencies on a monthly basis, on the last day of every month.
- Nelnet will report each individual loan to the credit agencies as one unique trade line that will appear on your credit report.
- Nelnet does not complete “goodwill requests” for credit updates.
NOTE: With a good will request, a consumer is not disputing an error. A consumer reaches out directly to the original creditor or collection agency asking for forgiveness for a mistake the consumer made and requesting a “goodwill adjustment” to information that was accurately reported to the consumer reporting agencies.
How Does Credit Reporting Change During the Life of a Student Loan?
Once you take out a student loan, it will flow through different phases until it is ultimately paid in full.
In-School and Grace Status
Initially, while you’re in school, a Direct Stafford loan will be in an In-School status. Once you leave school or drop below half-time enrollment status, a Stafford loan will enter a six-month grace period.
Loans that are in an In-School or Grace status are reported to credit agencies as follows.
|Account Status||This section indicates that the loan is in a current status.|
|Current Balance||This section reflects the total of the current principal and accrued interest of the loan.
Note: Even when a payment is not required, interest can accrue on certain loan types, increasing the total current balance and impacting your credit score.
|Payment History||The payment history indicates the loan was current for every month that the loan was in an In-School or Grace status.|
Keep in mind that Parent Plus loans and certain graduate or consolidation loans are not eligible for an In-School or Grace status. These loan types will begin in the Repayment phase after loan funds are disbursed, or paid out.
Following the grace period, a student loan will move to the repayment phase. In this phase, you will be expected to make payments toward your loan. (If you have trouble making payments, you can log in to your Nelnet account , or call Nelnet at 888.486.4722 to review different deferment, forbearance, and repayment plan options.)
|Account Status||This indicates whether the loan is current or past due.
|Special Comment||Used to indicate if a loan is in forbearance|
|Terms of the Loan||Duration of loan if in repayment or blank if in deferment|
|Specific Amounts Update During Repayment||
|Payment History||Reflects the Account Status in each month (either current or delinquent, and indicates the delinquency stage if so)|
The final phase in the life of a loan is when the loan is ultimately paid in full and closes. Once the loan closes, it is reported one final time, indicating that the loan is closed and noting why the loan closed. The most common reasons a loan can close include: paid in full by borrower; loan transferred; loan consolidated; and loan defaulted.
|Account Status||This section will indicate that the loan is closed.
|Special Comment||A special comment can be used when a loan closes.
|Specific Amounts||Current Balance and Scheduled Monthly Payment Amount will be reported as $0 when the loan is closed|
|Payment History||Once the loan closes, there will be one final update to the Payment History indicating the loan is now closed|
Once the loan has been reported as closed, there will no longer be any monthly updates to the trade line. A loan will typically remain on a credit report for 7 years after the loan has been paid in full. Retention or deletion of items on a credit report are at the discretion of the credit agencies according to their policies.
Account Information Appendix
ECOA Code – Defines the relationship of the primary consumer to the account and designates the account as joint, individual, etc., in compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. ECOA Codes include
- Individual – This consumer has contractual responsibility for this account and is primarily responsible for its payment.
- Joint Contractual Liability – This consumer has contractual responsibility for this joint account.
- Co-maker or Guarantor – This consumer is the co-maker or guarantor for this account, who becomes liable if the maker defaults.
- Maker – This consumer is the maker who is liable for the account, but a co-maker or guarantor is liable if the maker defaults.
Account Status – Identifies the current condition of the account.
Payment Rating – Identifies whether the account was current or past due at the time of closing.
Special Comment – Used in conjunction with Account Status and Payment Rating to further define the account.
Portfolio Type – Identifies the type of loan and how it will be repaid.
- Nelnet loans are all classified as an Installment portfolio type. This indicates the loan is repayable in installments in set monthly amounts.
Account Type – Identifies the account classification.
- Nelnet loans are all classified as an Education account type.
Terms Duration – Identifies the original terms for the life of the laon and is displayed as number of months.
- When the Terms Frequency is deferred, the Terms Duration will be blank.
Terms Frequency – Reports the frequency for payments due.
- When a loan is in an In-School status, Grace status, or deferment, the Terms Frequency will be deferred. All other statuses will report as Monthly.
Date Opened – Identifies the date the account was originally opened which will be the 1st disbursement date.
Date of Last Payment – Identifies the date of the most recent payment received.
Date Closed – Identifies the date the loan was paid in full.
Date of First Delinquency – Represents the date a loan went 30 days past due if the loan was reported delinquent in the most recent reporting. This includes a loan that was delinquent at the time it closed.
Current Balance – This equals the principal balance plus any accrued interest and fees at the time of reporting. This will be $0 if the trade line is closed.
Amount Past Due – This equals the total amount of payments that are 30 days or more past due at the time of reporting. This will be $0 if the trade line is closed or has a current Account Status.
Original Amount – Identifies the original amount of the loan, excluding interest payments.
Actual Payment Amount – Identifies the amount received on the Date of Last Payment.
Scheduled Monthly Payment Amount – Identifies the regular monthly payment amount due.
- This will be $0 if the tradeline is closed, or if the loan qualifies for a $0 payment plan.
Payment History – Contains up to 7 years of consecutive payment activity.
Below are some definitions of common terms in regards to credit reporting.
Accrued Interest – Interest that accumulates on the unpaid principal balance of a loan.
Consumer Account Number – The unique number assigned to a trade line by a creditor to identify the account with them. Each individual loan Nelnet services will be given a unique consumer account number and be reported as one trade line. This is not the account number a consumer will see on their statements from Nelnet.
Credit Report – A report containing detailed information on a person's credit history, including identifying information, credit accounts and loans, bankruptcies and late payments, and recent inquiries.
Credit Reporting Agency – A business that maintains historical credit information on individuals and businesses. They receive reports from lenders and various other sources which are compiled in a credit report that includes a credit score when issued. The four credit agencies are Equifax, Experian, Transunion, and Innovis.
Credit Score – A number, generally between 300 and 850, provided in a credit report and used by a lender as a predictive indicator of a consumer’s likelihood to repay a loan. The credit score may be used by the lender to determine eligibility and set the terms of a loan, such as the interest rate and fees.
Delinquent – An account that is not being paid on time. Payments become delinquent when they are not received by the due date. Nelnet will begin delinquent reporting when a loan reaches 90 days past due.
Default – The failure of a consumer to repay a loan according to the terms of the promissory note. For federal student loans default occurs at 270 days delinquent, and has a negative effect on a credit score.
Deferment – A period during which a consumer may postpone loan payments. For certain types of loans, the federal government pays the interest that accrues during a deferment period. For unsubsidized loans, the consumer is responsible for paying the interest that accrues during a deferment period, and any unpaid interest is added to the loan balance when the deferment ends (this is called capitalization).
Forbearance – Forbearance allows the consumer to temporarily postpone making payments, or to make lower payments, on a loan for a specific length of time.
Rehabilitation – The process of bringing a loan out of default and removing the default notation on a consumer’s credit report.
Repayment – The period of time during which a consumer is required to make payments on a loan. The repayment period can be lengthened if the consumer makes lower payments or postpones payments. The repayment period can be shortened if the consumer makes additional payments.
Trade line – A trade line is a record of activity for any type of credit extended to a consumer and reported to a credit reporting agency. The trade line records all of the activity associated with an account. Each trade line is assigned a unique Consumer Account Number.