The following are testimonials submitted to this site. To tell your story, please go here.
I am writing to tell my sister's story.
She is no longer with us...She took her life a year
We just learned about the show "60 minutes" did on Sallie Mae. We read the transcript and it brought to light some information we did not know. We were under the impression Sallie Mae was a government institution. No wonder they so freely loan out money.
My son was at University of Maryland for 4-1/2 years, graduated May, 2005 - $87,000 in debt. What a shock! We had to take out a second mortgage to help him pay this off. Mainly, because we got tired of dealing with the incompetent people who work for Sallie Mae and the fact that the monthly payments were never the same. One day we talked to four different people and received different information from each one. That's when we got totally frustrated and went to our bank to take out a loan.
I think this is terrible to do to our young people. Education is encouraged, but there is certainly no hope for those who do not come from upperclass families, or families who weren't able to save enough money to help put their children through school.
I have contacted our Congressman, Roscoe Bartlett. I don't get upset over too many things, but this has really pushed my buttons and I am on the warpath!!!
I hope this website will help to put an end to the injustice of Sallie Mae.
In the mid 90's I took out about $7000 in Parent Plus Loans for my daughter's college undergraduate education. I began repaying them as each year's loan became due in sequence. In 1998 I experienced the onset of major depression and have not been able to work since then. I applied for social security disability on the basis of depression but they denied me saying that even though my disability prevented me from doing the physical work I used to do that I could become a secretary. Even though I did not have a physical disability and I had no secretarial training. I was also denied a second time stating that the government doctors felt I did not really suffer from fibromyalgia even though I had not applied for disability on the basis of fibromyalgia. In order to live with no income I borrowed several thousand dollars on my credit cards to pay my bills and was ultimately forced into bankruptcy, lost my house, my flawless credit rating and had no where to live.
I began the long process of applying for forbearance and economic hardship with AES and Sallie Mae, my lenders. Over the next 6 years there became a pattern of these lenders claiming they never received my applications and was ignoring my responsibilities. Penalties and late fees began to accrue during long periods of time in which I was trying to convince the lenders that I had indeed sent in my applications. Eventually I had to begin sending everything certified mail and even had to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of MD to get AES to admit they received my 5th deferment application and actually grant me a deferment. Still, collection letters with huge threats of penalties continued. Letters I sent to Senator Barbara Mikulski asking for help were read but her office sent me a reply with statements from AES and Sallie Mae claiming I had never gotten in touch with them. At one point I was sent a denial letter for a subsequent deferment application and sent a copy of it to the senator asking how she could believe I had never gotten in touch with them when I could show them a copy of my rejection letter. She never answered. I began to receive threatening letters from an agency called ECMC that I mistakenly believed would help me mediate these loans but they simply add their own threats and do not answer any questions regarding any culpability on the part of the loan companies. I finally wrote to the Dept. Of Education's Ombudsman.
By this time I was no longer eligible for deferments and my depression does not qualify as a permanent disability. I tried to get AES and SallieMae to help me consolidate but they just simply kept sending me deferment and disability forms. By this time I felt I was losing my mind. The Ombudsman wrote back and offered to consolidate the loans for me. I was so relieved. Problem is after three more letters I have heard nothing further from him and the loans are about to go into default where the fun will really start. The lenders are calling all the people I put down as references for the loans stating they can not find me and that I have illegally failed to send them forwarding address EVEN AS they send me more threatening letters to my home. I now owe over $15,000 with no ability to work in the near future. They are now threatening to garnish a significant portion of my social security disability check!!! I am telling all the young people I know and their parents to be very wary of student loans.
If I were well enough to go on a national
speaking tour against all this outrageous fraud
I would gladly dedicate the next years of my life
to doing so!!!
Since my job relocated to another
state and I did not go, I decided to go for new
training in a different field. In approximately
2000 I went to a technical school for training and
I signed what I thought was a Sallie Mae loan, but
is was SLMA. Since Sallie Mae had such a good
reputation, I knew they would work with me.
Up to that point I had excellent credit w/o a single
mark so it was quite obvious I paid my bills promptly.
The loan was deferred a year and I went to school
in the evenings while exhaustively working all day.
The next year, when the loan came due, I was laid
off. When the first bill came in, I paid it
but I kept getting late bills and I could not understand
why. When I called SLMA, I was told my billing
actually started two months before I paid what I
thought was my first bill. I explained I never
received a bill and they told me that a bill is
just a courtsey that they did not have to send one--I
have never heard anything like that in my life.
Well, since I was laid off I could not pay three
months + penalties and asked them to work with me
for six months. Which they did not, that is
when I went to the SLMA website which is actually
Sallie Mae, not much on SLMA which I think is very
interesting and misleading the customer because
it rides on the reputation of Sallie Mae and I again
said that the site shows that Sallie Mae works with
people that are laid off, but I again was told SLMA
is not like Sallie Mae, which is interesting because
the website is Sallie Mae?
I went to law school specifically
to study environmental law so that I might work
in the public interest to save our resources for
future generations. I attended Vermont Law
School, where I was only able to attend because
of the availability of student loans. When
I graduated, my debt was nearly $100,000.
When I first graduated, I took an entry-level position
at a small non-profit, and I was immediately forced
to consolidate my loans because I could not have
afforded the payment otherwise. When I consolidated,
in 1996, interest rates were high, so I became locked
in at 8%, which the loan company told me was a good
deal, as interest rates could be as high as 12-15%
or more if I accepted the "floating" interest
rate. Since I needed some stability and predictibility
in my monthly loan payment, I locked in at 8%.
Now that interest rates are lower, I've tried everything
to find a way to lower the interest rate.
And for ten years, I've been paying a huge!
I am a 49 year-old minority male with
2 degrees, a B.A. in French Civilization in 1985
and an M.A., in French Civilization in 1990, earned
during accredited U.S. exchange programs.
Owing to circumstances beyond my control; namely,
the difficulty of getting appropriately placed in
properly structured positions for which my degrees
were designed, such as the teaching field,
I found myself in a situation of default.
When I graduated from college I already
knew that I had been scammed by the student loan
companies. But that was ok. I decided to get even.
I balked at paying my loans because I feel you should
not have to pay a dime to get an education. College
in the USA is no longer about educating the uneducated.
It is about how much money you can squeeze out of
a person when he is most vulnerable. Therefore,
once I finished I left the country. What I did was
I learned as much Spanish as I could and headed
for Argentina where I have worked as a doctor for
the last 5 years. I have become very wealthy and
have returned to the states many times and sometimes
amuse myself by contacting the collection companies
that still send me letters to a Po Box I set up
and telling them "the check is in the mail".
I laugh my ass off as I am sipping a pina colada
in South Beach, Miami. Listen, don't get ripped
off by these companies. Just do what I did, learn
another language and get t!
I am a 1990 law school graduate.
I had no educational debt prior to starting law
school, as I took a year off between undergrad and
law school to pay my undergrad educational loans.
In any event, I took out a private loan (either
through Sallie Mae or eventually purchase by Sallie
Mae) to cover living expenses while I attended law
school full-time. The original loan amount
was $8,000.00. It took me about a year to
find a decent job. Even afterwards, I had
a number of debts that had accumulated, including
my debt to Sallie Mae.
I have borrowed from Sallie Mae.
I deferred at first b/c I was not employed full
time after graduation. I borrowed roughly
$20,000. I will be paying back $42,000 after
interest. I have contacted the business on
numerous occasions to ask questions. Most
of the time I am put on hold for period of 7 minutes
or longer, the website is not consumer friendly,
and when the customer service reps try to assist,
it is useless. I have finally emailed them
and told them to no longer send me information via
email and that I expected everything via USPS.
They don't send an evelope w/the payment coupon
to send the payment (I guess we don't pay enough
for that to happen and it would set the company
I graduated from law school in 1995.
Since that time, I've had difficulty finding well-paying
law jobs and I've had 2 near-death health problems
(kidneys). I've accumulated over $185K in loans
(interest included) from school.
I'm a single mother of two trying
to pay back a loan from college thats now over 100,000-starting
at 55,000. I don't know what to do..Sallie Mae refuses
to lower my $550 payments. I make about about $4890
gross. But what I'm confused about is what about
taxes, healthcare? I bring home less than $3200
month. Rent being $1800 month (Dc area not cheap!)
With two children and one in college after all my
bills I have only $400 month not including- gas,
child care, groceries!
I come from a middle class family of 5 who lived from paycheck to paycheck. I managed to get out of undergrad in the early nineties without debt because affirmative action scholarships, church/community scholarships, and summer work helped a bit.
I incurred $67,000 in debt for 1 year of master's study and 3 years of doctoral study. My first job in 1996 gave me $33,000. I didn't graduate with the Ph.D. until 1999. I consolidated my loans in 2000 which reduced them from $930 to $530 per month. I still couldn't afford that, being a single woman paying life's expenses. I used up my forbearances. I was supposed to get married in 2004 and the plan was that I would pay only my car note and student loans for the first year. I used the last of my deferment while planning this "freedom" wedding that would finally permit me the luxury of a two person household income. The wedding fell through 2.5 months before the date, and I ended up moving 3 times in a year and a half period as recovery for giving up my cheap apartment.
I finally reached a salary where I
could pay my loans in late 2005, occasionally being
late, but able to catch up. However, the glitch
was that with my forbearance used up, although I
was making a monthly payment of $533.60, I couldn't
pay off the past due amount, which was alway 60
days or so away from default. So, I got tenure as
a professor, was finally able to afford the loan
(for the most part), but getting one, two, or three
months behind, put me in default range. So now the
loan companies are demanding $3200 by next month
or else my loan goes officially into default. The
problem is that they never give us all the information
we need earlier enough to offset. Did you know that
if you are in the default/pre-official paperwork
filed default (beyond 270 days past due, but not
yet in the system as a formal default) they switch
the rules and require you to make payments brining
you only 180 days past due, rather than the 269
days past dues--which is the standard definition
of default. So, I could muster $1500 or so by next
month, but that will not help me because now the
rules have shifted that I have to make 6 months
worth of payment at a time. Needless to say, my
loan in $6900 past due; I owe $87.000 now ($20,000
more than before), and they will increase my debt
by 18% on the current principal + interest amount
of $87,000 if I default. That 18% (plus collection
fees) is insane. That will increase my debt to over
$100,000 (which is practically $40,000 more than
the original loan). That's such extortion. I would
love to advocate if I knew how and to whom to cry
to get help. Good luck to all. This website is encouraging.
I can't believe we are being extorted. I'm planning
a defense to America's extortion systems. Soon,
I'm going to live like I'm in poverty just to save
my money and withdraw from America's economic system.
Power to the people. I'm so sorry everyone is going
thorugh this. My salary just reached $63,000 this
year,so I will be able to get out of this, even
though the increased debt is a chore.
The principal on my Citibank student loan is $40,000.
At the time I signed up, I felt that I would pay maybe $10,000 on top of the principal I was taking out. The important thing was getting an education and altough I knew that I had to finance much of it, I truthfully wasn't worried. My parents had set some money aside, but I quickly went through it as tuition and expenses were easily $30,000+ a year.
Today, as I am finally starting to understand what I have signed away, I am paying graduated payments at about $300 a month. Not even 1/4 of this is towards the principal. When I do consolidate, I will end up paying $132,000 dollars over 30 years; more than three times what I have borrowed.
I feel like I should have been more cautious but truthfully, my options were limited and I didn't know what I was getting into. Should I have been so encouraged to go to college?
I currently have a decent job that I wouldn't have without a degree. Between rent, living expenses and my loans, I have a few hundred dollars that I can save a year, if I am lucky. I feel like I will be climbing out of debt until the day I die and I am realizing how factual a reality this actually is. If I could have gone in another direction when I was 18, I can honestly say that I would have taken a long look at other options.
What is happening to students in the United States is disheartening. The question that I have is, what can I do to change it? The sad truth is, there is very little I can do other than slowly pay off my loans and attempt to maintain my credit. Graduate school is a dream. I simply cannot afford taking out additional private loans to fund the next several years of my life. I have learned that the institutions that issue these loans cannot be trusted and if things remain the same, I will encourage my children to explore different avenues.
I graduated from a law school in 1993 that was "affordable" if not prestigious. I work in public interest, improving the justice system in a bipartisan way. I'm making a difference for a 30th %-ile salary in the non-profit sector. My job satisfaction is terrific. My story is isn't.
I locked in my qualifying loans in consolidation at 9% in the early 90's. I have never been in default status, though I have fallen 1 and 2 months behind at different times of my life, following a divorce and another big event. To help, I got deferments of 6-months to a year on the loans for which I could. The result is that after 12 years of making payments in excess of $500, I owed $52,000. The problem is that I started with $49,000.
The inability to refinance is a killer that even some Republicans favor. But a story I don't see anyone covering is how such loans are front-loaded with interest, even though student loan interest no longer qualifies for the write-off that mortgages still do. (the 1,000 benefit that I pretty much missed entirely doesn't make up for what you would qualify for if that write-off were reinstated). To have repaid more than $50000, be in good standing, and yet to have lost money, is unconscionable to me.
In the 108th Congress, I remember Education and Workforce Chair John Boehner shutting down his Republican colleague Hoekstra in a hearing. Hoekstra was interested borrowers being able to shop for better rates, like borrowers do in mortgage lending. Boehner's explanation: "It violates the sanctity of the contract that borrowers sign with their lenders."
Forget the fact that *lenders* are buying and selling student loans regularly for profit. Forget the fact that we allow homeowners to "violate" the sanctity of their contracts with banks. Forget Republican ideals on the marketplace setting the price, or on individual's autonomy. Just a neo-con sell-out.
Another situation -- I underpaid my loan by about $50. The next month I did the same, so I was $100 under, but had a tax refund coming. But before I got it, I got a note saying I was 60 days late on the original $50 (they only apply payments in excess of your monthly payment to outstanding balances). So on their suggestion, I applied for a six month deferment just to clear everything up and start over. They said it would take about a week to go into effect. That week took it a couple of days into the next pay period. So what happened was that I lost a full month under the deferment to cover the month from which the first $50 was late, I lost another month for the second $50 was due, and because I was 2 days into the next period when the deferment started, that was another month. So the 6-month deferment was only for three. How is this consistent with the policies behind the deferment?
At least I know I'm not alone. Thanks
for your work that stops any of these practices.
I took out several plus loans (parent for student) for my four daughters several years ago. I still owe a balance of nearly $60,000 and pay a monthly payment of nearly $500.00 at 8% interest. If I did'nt have direct deposit my rate would be 8.25% per year. I made the mistake of consolidating my loans when 8.25% looked pretty good and I'm not allowed to consolidate again. I'm stuck. I consider 8% excessive, higher than most credit cards. I feel that these lenders should make some interest for loaning us their money, but 8% is unreasonable and over the top.
I'm now retired on a fixed income.
I just wish that Congress would allow some form
of reconsolidation. I'm willing to pay my fair share.
This whole scheme smells like an Enron scam as excutives
steal under the disguise of government legislation
vast amounts of revenue for their own benefit.
To tell your story, please go here.