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Arizona

The following are testimonials submitted to this site. To tell your story, please go here.

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Name Witheld 

Sorry if this is long but I just had to write. Something needs to be done. Looks like there are more of us in the same boat. My loans had originated back from 1991. When I left school in 1996 I had taken out $41,000 in student loans. First 2 years I had trouble paying being that I was just reentering the work force, single with 2 small kids. I had to deferred my payments with Sallie Mae. My boyfriend and I was finally starting to be able to make payments which we did for 2 years solid. At this time the company he was working for dived leaving us looking again. But we were still okay at this point and still making our payments. We bought a laundry mat that was determined had fraudulent profit margins. We went to court, won and the person that we sued bankrupt on us leaving us out of all the money that we had bought the place with. We then had to file bankruptcy ourselves - of course student loans were not covered. We lost our house and had to rebuy a singlewide trailer. (for a family of 5 - had a baby in 1999) My husband also at this time decided that he would stay at home to take care of the baby so he wouldn't have to be placed in daycare. Here is where things start to go downhill. We tried to keep up making payments but it seemed as Sallie Mae knew more about our income than we did. They kept being unreasonable. My husband kept begging them to please come down on the payments. Then in 1993 a couple of SM employees told us the same as they told you. The instructed us to do nothing, do not make payments, do not answer letters, do not answer calls ect and the DOE would come in and take over and give us a payment we could afford and we would be on the 25 year deal. Well, we didn't receive and letters or phone calls and then in 6/04 I receive a call from GRC (actually harassed) saying that I owed $20,000 on $6,000 of the loan. I asked the lady to not call me again at work because it was against the law and she said that it was a government loan therefore she could call me or my employer anytime she wanted. My husband took over and called them - we were then advised to consolidate through DOE. We filled all of the paper work. Only 2 out of the 11 were picked up. I called to see what happened. Apparently Sallie Mae handed the other 9 back to Oklahoma Guarantee Student Loan. I called and got my loans to send to DOE. OGSL then sent me a letter stating that I owed them $35,000. I sent in the loans to DOE. That opened a can of worms there. OGSL knew then that I was trying to consolidate and within 1 month I received another bill stating that I owed $53,000. We had to resend the consolidated form to DOE 3 times to finally get OGSL to fill out the form to send back to them. Boom GRC just made $14,000 and OGSL just made $18,000 off the government and left me stuck with a $73,000 bill. Also just before OGSL (being nice at the time) had told my husband that he shouldn't add his loans to mine (not very much) because DOE would take that into consideration that we were the same family with the 1 income. Wrong again. DOE has taken what is considered the maximum payment for a family such as mine and doubled it because of our loans being separate. This whole thing has gone out of control only because they know that they can get away with it and we has the loan holders can do nothing about it. It just sickens me.

 

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Tracy

I borrowed a total of about 30,000, in the late 1980's, and when the loans defaulted the banks just waited in the dark to pounce. I believe that it is a pre-meditated practice to allow students to default, then wait quietly until years have passed, then find them and attach their wages with ridiculous and unregulated fees. It's not the debt that I mind repaying, (which, by the way, will be paid off when my SON enters college), but the abitrary fees that the banks were allowed to charge on defaulted loans.

When all is said and done I will have paid more than 100,000 on the original loans.

It is criminal, and it has taken me YEARS to recover my damaged credit. We actually moved out of the country for two years so that we could live cheaply enough to pay down our debt.

1. Students entering college need to be educated on the dangers of taking on studen loan debt. They need to understand what is interest, and what is compound interest. They need to get some information about PREDATORY lending. Informed students will make the right choices.

2. Banks should not be allowed to sell off student loans and charge arbitrary fees, which can then be capitalized into the principal. Student loans should not be LOW interest, they should be NO interest.

My children are receiving an education from me about banking, credit cards, interest and loans. My 11 year old is in charge of the electric bill. He knows how to write a check, and he knows about credit cards and compound interest and fees. Before my children graduate from high school they will have a checking account and credit cards which they will have practiced on for at least one year under my supervision. I will not send my kids to college without educating them about the dangers of predatory lending.

Banks are the only winners here. Those of us who were stupid enough to borrow and default are nothing less than indentured servants to the banking industry.

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Joe

 

5 original loans (Perkins, Stafford, SLS): $14,780 from 1989 to 1991-

Consolidated into 1 loan in 1996 at amount of $18,994.

Current amount owed as of January 2006: $38,981-Held by NELNET Corp
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3 original loans (PLUS): $12,935 from 2001 to 2003

Current amount owed as of January 2006: $14,724-Held by Dept of Education
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TOTAL NOW OWED AS OF JANUARY 2006: $53,705

In the almost 15 years of the life of these various loans I have only been able to repay somewhere around $1,000.

I have been in near 100% deferment or forebearance status since the orgin of each of these loans. I have averaged about $10,000 a year in income since 1989. I have been diagnosed with several mental/emotional disorders that impair my ability to work and earn enough to pay on these loans. I am very close to filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition and taking my chances with the judge. This is literally ruining my life.

The best that the lenders will offer me is to pay at least $400 a month over the next 25 years. I am now 51 and in 25 years I will be almost 77.
I am and will be literally a slave to the student loan lenders for the rest of my life, should I live for another 25 years.

I would be willing to be interviewed.

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Ken

Borrowed ten student loans from '91 to '96 totaling 27k.  Deferred as long as possible, made some payments, and then filed chapter-7 in '97.  Heard nothing until 2001 when contacted by DCS claiming over 53k owed!  First defense was claiming all was discharged in court, but a credit report quickly discounted that theory.  Not only is DCS diverting all tax refunds, but has garnished my wages to the tune of 25%.  As of now, I've paid over 20k and still owe 33k.  Try settling with DCS but it's not in their best interest to settle unless for the full amount--which includes projected collection costs, not current collection costs.  This is a racket if ever there was one!  Original guarantors (DOE and Sallie Mae) just refer to collection agency for all correspondence.  DCS has tacked on 25% collection fees to each loan, despite servicing all under two separate accounts.  I refuse to pay more than twice the amount I borrowed so will have to make a move soon--Baha!
 mas sounds nice . . .

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Daniele

On top of refusing to let the Dept.of ED by my loan at a lower 8%, Sallie Mae refused to let me use any of the offers being made at 5.4% and above because they claim that they have exclusive rights on my loan because it has already been consolidated and they have 100% of it.  Can you imagine if your home mortgage Co had that kind of power?  This is the only loan I have ever encountered that basically takes all your financial rights away from you.  Surely this is unconstitutional and should be able to be taken to court. 
SURELY WE HAVE STANDING FOR A CLASS ACTION SUIT AGAINST SALLY MAE AND OTHER EXPLOITIVE STUDENT LOAN HOLDERS. 
I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT OUR GOVERNMENT CONDONES SUCH DISHONEST ACITIVITIES.  I AM ASKING EVERYONE TO WRITE TO THEIR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS.
Like others who have written here, I honestly beleive I will be paying this debt until I die.  I am not even sure that when I retire, SallieMae will not be there demanding their blood money.  By the time, there is enough, I repay this loan I will have paid back more than I will have paid for my home and car payments combined.

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Staci

The first time I borrowed money was in 1989. I was going to cosmetology school. the amount was only about $2000. While working the cosmetology industry I was successfully payback this amount, but it was a struggle. So I decided to increase my opportunities and go back to school.

I chose to go to a private trade school, ITT tech and learn computer. I added about $4000 more debt to the original amount. For one reason or another I was unable to continue school. So during the bulk of the 90's I was in deferrment.

Then I just was unable to pay. Now in 2006 my debt has ballooned into $29000 in debt and I am being garnished. The last collection agency said that if I wrote a check at that moment I could pay it off for $12000. But like many, I barely make ends meet, because for me I have no degree, I cannot even get promoted where I work now.

So I am pretty stuck losing 15% of my disposable income, more than $300.00 a month. Plus I get a double penalty, I never get to have my tax refund, it is taken every year.

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Andrew

We are a middle-class family that doesn't make enough to pay for college but are not poor enough to have money thrown at us. In 2001, My son, Andrew, was accepted to the Brooks Institute of Photography, which was a dream come true. He couldn't get any scholarships as the school is private. We scrambled around and was told the only help he could get was a small Stafford loan of about $10,000 and private loans from Stillwater Bank that were $95,000 when he dropped out after 3 academic years, just short of his Bachelor's degree.

He dropped out because he couldn't justify borrowing another $45,000 for the last year that he called "fluff". He has been trying to generate enough income to pay for living expenses and the loans that were at the time, $966.00 a month. He's gotten 2 of 3 deferrals on the Stafford and 1 year and 8 1/2 months of 2 years of forbearances on the private loans.  The huge loans will become due on Sept, 10th 2006. When he qualified for the private loans, the interest rates were about 14% so we co-signed to get the rates cut in half for the first 2 that he would have the longest. Our circumstances have since changed as my husband has since retired and I am disabled with M.S. We don't have the income to pay the over $1300.00 a month that they want for the private loan by itself.

>From the beginning, we were told to keep checking for new programs and possible consolidation for the jumbo loans. Nothing has changed except the interest rates are now over 17% and rising. The loans have ballooned to over $130,000 and growing by over $5,000 a quarter. The rates are scheduled to rise again this July. We don't understand how they can get away with those rates as interest rates have been lowest that they had been in 30 years!

We fear for our son's future. Being saddled with what we called the uncontrollable "Blob Monster" will certainly ruin it. When Sallie Mae took over the loans, we were hopeful that they would have a student friendly program for repayment. Instead we found that the loans were being run by "Loan Sharks".

Since we co-signed for 2 of the Sallie Mae loans, my husband and I needed to protect ourselves from possible retaliation from Sallie Mae in the event that our son, Andrew couldn't repay. We took out an equity loan for $65,000 to pay off our obligations. The original loan amounts for the 2 were $25,000 and $25,301. Sallie Mae made over $17,000 in interest for 3 1/2 yrs! The equity loan is at an adjustible rate with interest only payments  of about $600.00 a month probably forever. Andrew has also started to pay $555.00 a month directly to Sallie Mae for the private loans.They don't send any billings or statements so I have to remind him.  Next year the Stafford loans become due for over $11,000.00. When we repaid the loans, Sallie Mae didn't even give us the courtesy of acknowledging the payments. I had to call several times to see if they received the 2 checks. We sent them together both  equaling the $65,000 and only 1 was applied. When asked where the other check might be they said...probably thrown away...After about 21 days, they found it but I needed to pay another $2,200.00 in interest. We scrambled to do that and are hopefully free of Sallie Mae. Now for Andrew, that is another story.-




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Phyllis

This has gone on so long that I honestly don't know where to begin.  I went back to school when I was 42 years old, a single mother with three children, working full time and going to school full time.  I got fired, never would give me a reason, just that it had nothing to do with my work.  I think it was because I was in school and working afternoons and evenings and that didn't fit well with their office, but they were the ones who gave me permission to do so.  I got married while in school, had another child, got my degree, got my master's, taught school for a year, then moved to Arizona.  We were living in Bullhead City, AZ and I could not find a teaching job.  I went to work for the City of BHC.  My husband was working for Mohave County.  He lost his job, but prior to that he started gambling and as the years went on the gambling problem got worse.  I paid on my student loan as I could, but there was a family that had to be supported too.  He eventually found work with the State of Arizona and we moved to Phoenix.  Again I tried to find work teaching in a community (junior) college, but was unable to.  I also tried to find work in the legal field where I had 12 years experience in Arkansas, but was always told that I had no Arizona experience.  I eventually took a part-time job working with Beth El Synagogue for a fundraiser.  My husband was fired again by the State of Arizona and started buying and selling cars.  I continued to look for work and eventually went to work for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office as a secretary.  I worked there for approximately 2 years and then got a job with the Maricopa County Legal Defender where I stayed for nearly 10 years.  I am now working for First National Bank of Arizona as assistant to the SVP for Charitable Contributions.  I am 62 years old and have a son and stepson still living at home.

About the time I moved to Phoenix I consolidated my loan for the first time and tried to start paying them, but my husband was still gambling and I was only working part-time.  Our financial situation was getting worse, not better and eventually I consulted a bankruptcy attorney who told me that there was nothing I could do with regard to the student loan except file a Chapter 7, I believe it was (this was about 15 years ago, so my memory is not too good), but depositions would have to be taken, etc. and this would cost be about $2,000 up front and if I lost, which I very well might (this was a hardship kind of thing), I would lose the $2,000, plus still have to pay the loan.  I opted to consolidate again.  I know I should have been smarter, but I somehow didn't realize that by consolidating I was consolidating not only the principal amount into the new loan, but was also consolidating all that interest and principal too.  Everything continued to get worse, finances, gambling, no job or a job which didn't bring in much money, husband going from job to job and gambling all the money away, etc. 

Finally about 7 or 8 years ago, my husband found a job with the Maricopa County Health Department and began to advance, making decent money.  About 5 years ago he finally stopped gambling.  Somewhere around 4 or 5 years ago, I got phone calls and letters from GRC about my student loans.  I either had to consolidate again or they would begin garnishment.  I had the option to appeal, which I did, and was denied.  I tried to work something out with them to pay the original loan, plus a reasonable amount of interest, but was denied.  I originally borrowed about $25,000.  At that time they would have settled for about $50,000, which was the principal, interest and penalties which I had consolidated.  I couldn't do that so they said they would garnish.  I said go ahead and they started garnishing my wages, which amounted to about $200 a month.  With taxes, health insurance, etc., and the garnishment, I was practically working for free.  They actually left me alone for about 3 years.

When I left that job, they found me and started calling and harrassing me. They told me that I needed to consolidate under the William D. Ford program, that my payments would be less than the garnishment, that after 25 years the balance that I had not paid would be forgiven, that my husband did not need to sign the paperwork.  I tried to look up this information on the website, but found unsatisfactory answers.  There was no guarantee what my payment would be, they just told me it would be less than the garnishment.  I eventually had them send me the paperwork and I finally read through everything and found that nothing they told me was true.  My husband had to sign the paperwork, which he will not do, my payment would run in the neighborhood of $1,000 per month, which I cannot afford, and all I would have done was consolidate once more only this time, I would be consolidating over $100,000 into a principal loan.  I refused to do so and told them to just keep garnishing me. I will NEVER get this paid.  I'm 62 years old and I will die before this can possibly be paid.  I would be willing to pay my loan of $25,000 or $30,000, plus reasonable interest, but I WILL NOT pay them over $100,000.  I REFUSE!!!

Not only have I endured the stress of owing money which I cannot pay back, living with a husband with a gambling problem (which is no longer a problem), several health problems over the years, and raising 4 children of my own and 3 stepchildren, but I have had to endure harassment from collectors and the last straw was from a collector who told me that I was a criminal and should be put in jail because I can't pay this debt.  I now refuse to take any phone calls which come from GRC, have changed my phone to a phone with caller ID so I can monitor the calls, and written them a letter telling them to continue to garnish me and do not call me anymore. 

I hate this.  I now have the ability to pay my debts and would happily pay this if it were reasonable.  I can't put anything in my name, it must be owned solely by my husband and, hopefully, I'm protected in the event anything happens to him. 

I think one of the worse things is that there is NO information that I can find about any programs that would actually help.  I've spoken to lawyers and financial advisors and the only help they can give is just to pay it.  If there is anything out there that would help, I'd like to know where it is.  I'll be eligible for social security in about 4 years and they'll probably garnish that too. 

Good luck everyone!

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Phyllis

I originally borrowed money to get my Master's Degree in Music Education.  After I graduated I consolidated the loans into one loan and began paying small amounts which I think were income contingent.  As an educator, I do not make an enormous amount of money.  I needed to be in Forbearance so I did that.  What they don't tell you is that when you have an Income Contingent Payment option you are actually using up Forbearance time.  I think I was on my 3rd Forbearance and I get a letter about 3 months into it saying that I owed them 1300.00 which is an impossible amount to pay on my salary.  I tried to talk to Sallie Mae for about 3 months.  I got told that I needed to defer my loans, but I didn't have deferment time.  Which I knew but they continued so I filled out the paperwork only to find that I couldn't do that.  All the while telling them that I could make small payments but they told me no.  I needed to fill out another Income Sensitive application.  So I did.  I was not eligible for that as long as I had an outstanding balance.  My guess is that I wouldn't have been eligible for it even if I didn't have an outstanding balance.  I then began getting the default letters.  I heard about a program through direct loans that I could consolidate and sell the loans to the government.  So that's what I did.  I was in default for about 30 days until all of it was straightened out.  I spent 6 months filling out paperwork that Sallie Mae had me doing.  I originally borrowed about 40000.00 and I now owe around 72000.00 but hopefully my loan won't be sold back to Sallie Mae.  They are completely worthless.  There was no one there that I could get a straight answer from.  

 

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Dick

In 1993, I wrote and published " THE DEBTORS HANDBOOK; HOW TO STAY COOL IN HOT WATER " .  It's in the library of Congress. Pages 35-40 contain a situation very similar to yours. Call me with your address and I'll send you a complementary copy.  Keep up the good work.

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Kenneth

I was contacted by my student loan collection agency today, DCS out of California.  They wanted me to consolidate
my student loans through Sallie Mae with the government's Federal Direct Consolidation Loans program.  Smelling a
rat, I asked what was the reason they contacted me for after three years of garnishment @ 10% net income and roughly
$100 a month interest.  They informed me that the original loan papers were for an adjustable rate and that it would be
going up beginning next month.  To add more bad news they are also going to raise the garnishment rate to 15%.

I asked what was my remaining balance--$23k, already paid over $20k in garnished income and intercepted refunds plus
another $10k to the feds on a different program.  I would like to know if others have been encouraged to consolidate and

whether or not Sallie Mae is feeling the heat of the recent negative PR in an effort to possibly shed its shakey image as

a loanshark.  It seems to me that if I consolidate, I'd be caving into their strong-arm tactics by letting them off the hook

for what is obvious to me some extraordinarily creative accounting practices.  Any insight would be appreciated.

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Christopher

My son originally had a student loan in the approximate amount of $7,500.00
    Today, after going to a variety of collectors who added their charges and interest, the amount is $25,000.00  and the final collector, USA Funds(Their logo is an American Flag and under the USA they point out that they "support access to education" in fact, their primary business is garnishment. Question: Why are they allowed to use the American Flag, the letters USA coupled with their "supporting access to education.'?
     They are about to garnishee Chris' paycheck again; what do you suggest can be done in a situation like this- it's not as though Chris graduated and is earning a lot of money as a Doctor or Teacher; he took a few courses and now owes a figure that probably will take the rest of his life to repay.
     The government recently announced a reduction in interest rates; when we notified USA they simply responded with an advice on their intention to garnishee.
We've brought this to the attention of Senators Kyl, McCain, Schumer and Feingold and are about to alert them again.
Question: Do you know of anyone in Congress who might be specifically addressing this problem?

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Ross

Well, i saw an infomercial for UTI in phoenix, expressed interest never spoke ,setup or had a cosigner ....nothing about how i would be paying for the school had been spoken of, i got a postcard with a start date on it........i was moving yipee!
when i got there (AZ) they did not call my name nor was i on the roster.
well financial advisor ? whats that? No i dont know i never spoke with one well after they helped me out a bit i got some loan and what did i care i was there...................................................so to make a long story short, i feel like i got boned and i think i have inherited a large sum of money and plan to pay it off untill i see over 3,000 $ in collection costs! what collection i did not recieve any notices i am 346 days late on a apyment i am lost but they want my$

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Bobbie Sue

I In 1988-1990, I returned to Concordia College to finish my teaching degree. I had loans from previous schooling and paid them. I accummulated $8,000 this time in Stafford/Perkins Loans. I accepted a job in Del Rio, TX which was a teacher-shortage area and filed the appropriate forbearance papers. My loan was to be in forebearance. February, 1984, my income tax was taken. When I contacted the Department of Education, they said that there were loan companies buying up loans, sitting on them, adding fees, and then selling them back to the Government because they were guaranteed loans. The loan was up to $17,000. (I worked in the same school district. I was never contacted regarding my loan being in default and the additional amounts until this phone call I made.) The Department of Education said not to worry about it, my taxes would not be taken again, and they were not.

I filed the deferement papers when I was in the Peace Corps from 1996-1997. I returned to work in another teacher-shortage area, inter-city, junior high math in Sacramento, CA. I purchased a home in 1999. The loans were marked "written off" on my credit report. In 2000, I had a nervous breakdown, stroke, and another nervous breakdown, with two long hospitalizations. I filed a Chapter 13, and loss my house and car. The Department of Education was sent my notification of a Chapter 13. (I have recieved my records from Department of Ed and you can see where they were notified). They had the opportunity to be included in my paying back of my debts through the Chapter 13, and chose not to participate. Not unitl,November, 2006, because I was taking an online course, I recieved from the Department of Education, that I now owe, $33,000.

I have been trying to work out a settlement, paying them $400 a month, but I do not agree with this total amount and want my hearing. They continue to harrass me without a hearing. I just want to pay back the $8,000 and a reasonable amount of interest without this growing more. They said if I pay $400 a month for six months the loan would be reduced. Then I get papers saying the loan will be sold with new fees added. They also said I have to agree with the $33,000. If I do the repayment program, and I have to give up my right to a hearing. They keep on harrassing me. I am working in another teacher-shortage area, Northern Arizona, servicing the Navajo Reservation, and teaching junior high math. I have always worked in impovershed, areas where I was needed. Is there anyone who can help me get a legal, reasonable agreement, that is not going to continue to gather large fees. My high blood pressure, and depression problems are returning. I do not want to be out of work again. I am alone with no one to help me. Please, someone help me.

God help me,
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