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Washington

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

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Alan

I originally borrowed about $38,000 for both undergraduate, and graduate school, and earned 3 degrees in aerospace Engineering, plus 2 minors in Industrial Systems Engineering, and Philosophy from USC. After graduation, I consolidated with Sallie Mae. I got a fairly low paying job as associate Scientist at Caltech, and faithfully began repaying my loans. As an aside: I was slightly short one month. I called Sallie Mae, and was told over the phone that as long as I continued to pay in a timely matter, that the underpayment wouldn't affect me. It was over 6 months later when I realized that Sallie Mae had charged me large penalties EVERY month after that for the original underpayment. I talked to them again, and they refused to take off the fees.  I realized at that point that Sallie Mae was not part of the government, but rather a for-profit corporation.

My wage at Caltech wasn't huge, and I found that after about a year or so, It was getting harder and harder to maintain the payment schedule, despite my taking a night job as a cook. In Summer, 2001, I left my job at Caltech with the belief that I would find a higher paying job. Unfortunately, the events of September 11th put an immediate chill on the economy, particularly aerospace . I proceeded to liquidate all of my assets, which included a small retirement package, and a vehicle. I left the state, and began searching for work. There was none. I applied for a hardship deferment with Sallie Mae on December 12th, 2001. They denied it, and instead place my account into default on December 13th.  It would be about 2 years before I again found any type of full time employment. During this time, I worked as a cook on a remote island in Alaska (7 days per week, 92 hours per week, at a wage of about $5 per hour), did odd jobs, and cooked in 4 different restaurants in Tacoma, WA.

In April, 2003, I received a bill for nearly $80,000 from General Revenue Corporation (which is owned by Sallie Mae) on behalf of the guarantor, Edfund. I thought there must be a mistake, given that I had originally borrowed $38,000, and paid off approximately $4,000 of this. It turns out there was no-mistake- the federal law gave these people the right to add huge penalties and fees to my loan. Moreover, Sallie Mae - who had already profited at least $25,000 on my $38,000 loans (this doesn't include interest subsidies paid to them by the federal government while I was in school), was demanding more than double what I originally borrowed to be paid in full! Sallie Mae would have profited an additional $20,000 on my $38,000 in loans had I been able to find a way to comply with their demand.

I called Edfund and repeatedly offered to begin repayment on the original debt (what I borrowed, plus interest). I even offered to repay at a higher interest rate! They refused. I couldn't understand why a "non-profit, public benefit" corporation needed to charge so much more than the original debt.

Then, I got curious, and researched the executive salaries of Edfund. They were exploding! I dug a little deeper, and saw that there were dozens of "Edfunds" out there, all paying themselves massive increases in salaries. Then it began to make sense. I was blown away when I saw the stock bonuses that Sallie Mae executives had given themselves.

Anyhow, the loan has since been transferred to the Department of Education, who now claim that I owe about $109,000, which may as well be a million. My life has been paralyzed. My pitiful tax returns have been taken,  The job I could find, helping disadvantaged businesses at a local non-profit, utilizes none of my engineering skills, pays a fraction of what I though I would be making, and is about to be garnished by yet another collection agency holding my account.  I recently got another job as a tech writer at a defense company, but with my defaulted loans,  my initial security clearance application was denied. I received notice two weeks ago that I am being laid off.

There is no reason for the collection agencies to accept a fair amount (i.e. what was borrowed, plus interest), and so they don't. I have thought seriously about bankruptcy, and believe me- this is the last thing I would ever want to do- but even this option is not longer available to student borrowers thanks to the lobbying efforts of Sallie Mae.  

Its really funny how people who are well connected can find ways to extract more and more money from the public without actually creating anything useful for society. I'll never understand how anyone could live with themselves for doing that.  This system is rigged, and a whole bunch of already rich people are intent on getting a LOT richer from my misfortune.

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Mackay

I This is the most satanic organization on the earth. Nothing honest or Christian can touch them.

Back in 1998 I signed in to a 1 year computer trade school to try to better myself and education.

A couple months after I graduated my school in 1999 I began to get sick with 'CHF' Congestive Heart Failure, and with in a few months I was unable to work for a living and started on Social Security at about half my working wages.

In February 2001, my Dr. told me I probally would not live to see Christmas that year. My heart only pumped 15% of what It should!
I had to file bankrupsy from my bills piling up, everything was taken care of 'except' the satanic sallie mae.

I told them of my situation, and followed their instructions for aquital of my debt, includind a letter from mr Doctor stating I most probally would not survive this setback.
They gave me a couple of their extensions while adding up more of their interest against me.

I've survived, my heart has gotten better, it's now at, and will never get better than the 50% blood flow it's presently at, which is still considered CHF. I still can't fully work or exercise like I want or need to.

At present I'm getting full payment notices of 8,700+ for the original 3,700 I had applied for in schooling.
I am unable to make much better than minimum wage and my wife has been disabled for the last year and a half, so I'm working to support two at present just to live very modestly week to week.

We need a class action suit against this vile organization with 5 million people being afflicted.

Please keep me posted as to what we can do to protect ourselves against this terrible 'blood~money' sucking machine against the American people. 

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Witheld

I am too ashamed to put my true name or anything else that would identify me. 

It was 1993 and I grauduted with a BA; could not find work to cover expenses for my young son.  (Deadbeat Dad, was of course no help.)  So, not knowing anything about money, a local University said sign here and you can get a Masters.  They never advised me that I might not be able to pay it back. Then to make matters worse, upon graduation, I did not land that dream job that paid decent, the year was 1994, and I am making about 1800.00 a year.  Sallie Mae said oh, we can defer till you can pay: well ten years later I am still deferring.  And know I owe about 60,000.00.  Actually, its over 60,000.00.  They are saying I will be paying until I am 70 years old, or die.  Yes, its true if I die the debit is forgiven. 

The Federal Government was predatory in their lending to me: they knew I might not be able to aford to pay it back but they did not care.  They should be ashamed of themselves.

My son has been warned of the evils of Sallie Mae and the Federal Governments role, he will not be a slave to their greed.

Still Alive Sallie Mae Slave

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Michelle

I borrowed $25,000 in student loans in 1996 and have gotten all the extensions i can and have not been able to pay on these with my wages and bills. now they say i owe almost forty thousand and i cannot pay still. i don't know what is going to happen, i am afraid they are going to start taking my pay check now. 

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Witheld

I borrowed roughly $25,000 from 1992 to 1997.   In early 2002 I was within $2,000 of paying this back.  I lost my job in the "dot com bust" and fell behind on my payments.   I did not go into "default" (I guess it takes a while for the loan to go into that state) and eventually paid everything off, but the late payments have really hurt my credit.

Sallie Mae reports each semester as a separate "account", even though I make all my payments to Sallie Mae (unlike a credit card, where no matter how many items you by you have only one account).   So now my credit reports show four seperate accounts I was late on -- lowering my credit score by over 80 points.   On one of these loans I only owed ~$50!

I called Sallie Mae and asked if they could report this as only one account, seeing as the loans were so small and since I've paid them all off, they refused.   A typical business will happily remove negative remarks on your credit report in exchange for payment, but since Sallie Mae is guaranteed to get paid, negotiating with them will get you nowhere.

A lower credit score has made it practically impossible for me to buy a home or get a credit card (ironically, a both of these would help build credit).   My car insurance is also more expensive, though that's a fairly minor issue. 

The government should not be supporting this kind of behavior.  There are so many ways to law could be changed to help students without "hurting" corporations.   One simple way would be to disallow reporting of paid-off student-loan debt to credit-reporting agencies.

I think I'm probably one of the lucky ones -- younger people are taking out much more in loans but new-graduate wages have not increased that much.   I did not slip into default so I avoided collection agencies and huge penalties, but if the country slips into a recession (it always does!) new graduates could easily default and be in debt for decades.   The worst effect of this all are the kids that watched 60 Minutes on Sunday and walked away thinking if they went to college they could just to end up slaving away to corporate lenders when its all over.

I'm not posting my email address here for privacy reasons but I've emailed the site owner so he has it.


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Witheld

In 1992, I graduated from an expensive trade school with $15,000 in student loans and no job prospects.  Within a year I became severely clinically depressed.  I was unable to work for the next 5 years.  Thanks to medication, I am now able to work and pay back the loan, but the loan has now ballooned to almost $30,000.  I contacted SallieMae, who referred me to their debt collector "OSI Education Services, Inc." who said if I applied for a loan consolidation they would reduce the "collection costs" that were applied when I defaulted, from 24% down to 18%.  And they applied a lot of pressure, including calling my employer, to get me to agree to the consolidation.  What they didn't tell me, was that I would have to agree to capitalize all the interest to date, into the principle of the loan.  It seems like, every time I turn around, these people are trying to make more money off of my misfortune.

Although I have done nothing wrong, there are so many stigmas from having this debt, and the reason for having this debt, that I must remain anonymous.

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Connie

I went through school as a single parent of 3.  It took me 6 years to get a bachelor for computer programming. I ended up borrowing 45,000, because at the time I started, by oldest was 4, my youngest was 6 months.  I have no parents (not that they could have helped), no income other than welfare, no help.  My rent was 500 a month, day care was 900 a month.
At one point, I was taking 15 credits, and working 12 hour shifts as a cab driver, trying to make the bills, just to get through school.  When I told the welfare office that I was going to school, the first thing they did was to take away my food stamps.

When I graduated (in 1991) my youngest was 6 1/2, my oldest was 10. 
When I got my first job, I started paying back my student loan at 400 a month - a very large chunk of the paycheck.

Then I lost my job, and started doing contract work, deferring the loan, until I got a 'real' job.  I had gotten married, and eventually ended up in Virginia, doing contract work.  My (now) ex husband wasn't taking care of business, and I lost track of the loan (I ended up in Virginia for 9 months), then it went into default.  After another year of contracting, I got a 'real' job in 1997.

By this time, I have teens and preteens, a new house, and still have the regular bills.  I had already given up on the student loan, because the payments were just to high.  Something always had to be taken care of - cars breaking down, braces for the kids, whatever.  They started garnishing my wages at 10%.  I don't even remember the last time I had received a tax return.

In 2001 my ex and I split, and everything went to hell.  Due to health issues and a car wreck, I lost my job in 2003.  I also lost my house, my car, and (I think), my sanity.  I have SO given up ever being able to pay my student loan.

I have come to the realization, that, as usual, if you have enough wealth to cover your bills, you don't have bills to cover.  If you start out poor, you can never get up to even.  If I had had the money from the beginning, I wouldn't have owed anything.  Right now, I owe 116,000.  I live in a rented trailer for 550 a month.  I don't live extravagently.  I don't have credit cards, and I make my other bills fine.  I own a car.  That's the only thing I do own.  I filed bankruptcy in 2004, but as we all know, student loans are not covered. That bankruptcy covered my house, the property the house was on, the leftover balance on the car that was totalled, the catastophic medical bills, the one or two 300.00 balances on the credit cards, and other miscellaneous things left over from the divorce.  Not the student loan.

If I had had the money from the beginning, my educational expense would have been 45,000.  Since I was poor (as is anyone else who has to borrow), I have to pay a minimum of twice the amount as the others - even if I HADN'T defaulted.
I have also found out, (as my oldest got a student loan to go to Bryman), that the current interest rate is 18%.  The money that DOES get paid back doesn't go anywhere, except to the pockets of the lenders.  Financial has been cut by 20 BILLION DOLLARS.

The rich are fine.  The poor are screwed.  Always have been, and they are finding even better ways to continue the process.


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Witheld

When I graduated from high school in 1999, going to college seemed like the logical next step. Well, that was one of the worst decisions of my life! I can't even tell you how much I actually borrowed anymore. The amount has gone up that much since then. I believe my original loan amount was around $40,000. I now owe close to $68,000 and by the time I'm done re-paying, if I pay on time and don't make the terms longer, I'll pay about $103,000 (2.5 times more than borrowed). My grandparents have helped me pay $1,400 before I left school.

To date, I have not been able to make payments towards my loans. Oh, but good old Sallie Mae gets $150 from me every 6 months so that they can be put in forebearance. Mind you, not a penny of that $150 goes towards the loans - it's all "fees." Each time I call them, I tell them that I can't afford the $580/month that they want. I've asked for help numerous times, but to no avail. I have one loan re-consolidated, but that's one of six. They tell me "there are ways to re-consolidate, but we don't know how." I know that's a load of you-know-what! Oh yeah, Sallie Mae can't consolidate my loans either, because they're "student signature loans." Each time I put my loans in forebearance, they make $150 AND they get to charge me interest while the loans are in forebearance. By the end of the 6 months, I just paid for a quarter in interest alone (aprox. $1,200).

The only company I've dealt with is Sallie Mae. I've made it so they can't call me anymore. All I have is a cell phone and I am not about to waste my minutes on them. However, they do harass my mom, dad, grandparents and aunt via mail when I miss a payment. They each get a letter to the effect of "we need an updated address" as if I don't get their stupid bills - which by the way look like statements. Last time I called to put them in forebearance, they wanted a payment. I told them I had to borrow the $150 for the forebearance, because I didn't have that. They didn't want to wait for my mom and I to call in, so they had me bother her at work for the payment. This same lady offered to mail me info on graduated and income sensitive re-payment options. This only took a month to get to me. Oh, did I mention she put all but one loan in forebearance? They tend to mess something up every time I call - or give me incorrect information.

The loans are out of forebearance in August 2006. At that point they want $580/month. I can't afford that. I am living at home (with mom and dad) temporarily to save up for deposits on a new apartment. I'll be paying aprox $600/month in rent and that's half of my income. The other half covers my car (which is cheap), car insurance, health insurance, food, cell bill, gas and the power bill. I have no cable/dish or internet to save money. How do they expect people to spend half of their income on these loans? And I agree with a previous statment I saw - you think they'd want your money, even if you couldn't pay in full. Now that I've learned more about Sallie Mae (that they get paid no matter what) I can understand why they don't offer help or care. I can also see why they don't help make it feasible. There is nowhere else to cut back. There are no better paying jobs.

Speaking of better paying jobs, I don't even have a degree to show for all of this! That's right - no degree. Somewhere along the line, my student loans started arriving AFTER the semester was over. So, I had numerous credit cards that were almost maxed out, because that was my only money for food. The school I went to had no job market. And I had rent to pay. I don't know exactly what happened but at the end of 2002, I had enough and left the school. Ultimately, I filed bankruptcy in 2005, which just discharged in January 2006. Where I had perfect credit when I was younger, it's now 100% shot and I am not likely to ever be able to re-build with Sallie Mae's existence. This site is helpful and I hope it helps me find ways to make Sallie Mae pay for what they are doing to people.

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Roxanne

Ten years ago after I graduated from high school, I attended ITT Technical Institute for Computer Aided Drafting. I was receiving loans and grants from CitiBank. Eighteen months later I graduated with an Associates of Applied Science Degree. It took me four months to find a job. I started working for an Engineering/Architecture firm and loved it. One of the other employees that worked there with me went to the same school I did and was having trouble with her loans. I thought that I wouldn't because I was making $11 an hour. The financial aid people at the school said that I could make monthly payments as low as $50 a month. So I thought that I could do that. But once I started getting my paperwork in the mail to repay, it was different from what they told me. The payments were really high and I knew I wouldn't be able to make them. I was living by myself, paying my own bills. It was then that I knew that I was in the same boat as my co-worker.

After about nine months of working at the engineering firm, I was fired. I tried for five months to find another job, but I couldn't. So I decided to go back to school. A big mistake. I went back to ITT Technical Institute for a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Visualization Technology. School was going really well until we had to take a class I felt that I would never need. So I didn't try and I kept failing the class. Finally it came to graduation for my classmates, but not me. I had to wait for about 16 months for the new starting class to get to where I needed to be to take that class. So I said forget it and didn't come back. That time came and went and that class graduated and they offered that program no more. So even if I wanted to finish, I couldn't because they don't have that program at that school anymore.

So, I cut my losses and moved on. I could only find jobs like working at the local sports arenas and stadiums in the concession stands. My education was worthless. I couldn't go back to working for any engineering/architecture firms because I had forgotten all of what I had learned. So I decided to try a different school and a different program all together. Not really realizing that my loans are getting really high. I just kept deferring them, and filling out economic hardship forms, so that I could delay making payments for as long as I could.

I went to the Art Institute of Seattle and at that school I was receiving loans and grants from Sallie Mae. It was there that I learned that I would be maxed out on my borrowing. So I would have to make monthly payments to stay in class. I did really well there until again, I failed a class. I failed because the instructor was just going too fast and I couldn't keep up. So after that my gpa went down and stayed down. After awhile they sent me a letter stating that I could not attend there unless my grades went up and I would have to attend a community college to bring them up. I couldn't take anymore loans out and so I gave up on that school as well.

I started working in retail. I would go on interviews for office positions, but I just could not get hired anywhere. Just recently I've been receiving harrassing phone calls from a company named GRC (General Revenue Corp.)saying that they work with my loans and they want me to make payments to them, because I am now in default. But I don't want to do that because I feel that my education is not worth paying for. They kept calling me at work even when I had told them not to. They would repeatedly call my cell phone, and my home phone. So, I told them to stop calling and so far they have. I changed my home phone and cell phone numbers. When I did talk with them, they told me so much conflicting information. In one phone call, I think I talked with 4 differnt people. It was very confusing. They were saying that they understood my situation, but there was nothing they could do to and that I needed to pay them or else I would get garnished.

They kept telling me (almost threatening) that they would garnish my wages. I don't make much, just barely above minimum. So if they did do that I wouldn't be able to survive on what I would bring home from my paycheck. They also told me that if the company that I work for won't garnish my wages, then the company would have to go to court and pay my loans. I have been looking for a new job because with my current job, the hours have gone down significantly, and I'm beginning to hate my job. I'm at a loss as to what I should do. I can't get a job in the field that I went to school for, I can only get retail positions. I want to go back to school, to learn something different, but I can't because of my loans.

Having to deal with these loans and not finding a good job make me feel like a failure. If I could go back in time, I wouldn't have gone to the schools that I did. I tell my friends and family never take out loans no matter what. You will be paying them for the rest of your life, and they will mess up your credit.

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Daniele

I have been dealing with student loans since 1996, my credit other than those has been ok, yet I have had no available credit to get housing, buy a car or get credit cards with out huge fees.  I had thought I paid off the loans when I got out of school I received a payment book and paid off the book, only to find out the book was for only 1 loan of 4.  My credit has suffered from not being able to pay medical expenses from lack of credit since I found out about the default loans.  I did the 1 year automatic withdraw payments to regain status, then lost my job.  I am not sure how much I have paid into the laon, yet the balance has not seamed to change.  the amount is not unfathomable, yet the lack of credit makes me live from check to check without being able to plan for retirement.  I am also disabled, with a hearing loss, I saw on 60 minutes that sallie mae or the collection agency who already get my tax returns, can get disability if something should happen scares me.  My dealings with the collection agencies has been demoralizing, I have been told to borrow money from friends or family, I recently faxed a copy of application for deferment, yet I still receive mail and phone calls that threaten to put me in default status again. 


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Mark

You may or may not be interested in highlighting specific policies or corporations, but I've found a "mistake" with Citibank's online student loan repayment system that is not well reported on their site. I had a long conversation with a Citi customer service rep who she said she gets 3-4 calls a week about this.

If you're enrolled in automatic debit reduction (EZ Pay), and you attempt to pay additional off of your principle online, even when you check "DO NOT ADVANCE NEXT PAYMENT" it "accidentally" cancels all of your next auto debit payment that would be covered by the extra you paid. The website is vague on this, citing paying extra online "may" cause your EZ Pay to reschedule, but doesn't notify you if it does or does not. I only found it because I watch my debit acct like a hawk.

It's nickel-and-diming students, but if 3-4 students per service rep (probably more unreporting or don't ever catch this) are out a month or more on the interest they would have saved keeping their regularly scheduled payments, Citibank is making a TON of money off this "glitch."

Thanks, and I admire the work you do at SLJ.

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R. G.

I attended college too early following HS graduation because I lived in an area where it was difficult to find a job.  From 1981-1985 I took out 10,000 in various NDSL and Stafford Loans to attend college to become a music teacher. I continued to be unable to find and or sustain gainful employment.  I tried a second time to get a teaching certificate, and failed. 

Meanwhile, my loan was sold and traded from Sallie Mae to NELA and I received a lot of harrassing phone calls--callers would ask me to make mandatory payments of about $500 a month and to "stop seeing little green men", they would tell me.  Also I had others who told me  "It is people like you that is what is wrong with this country".  I also was accused of using my student loan money to buy cars or TVs or personal items not intended for educational loans--and I NEVER did ANY such thing as THAT.  So....with a mental condition.....THIS is how I was being treated by phone collectors.  Meanhwile I had to drop out of nursing college, again, with a 3.7 gpa.

Mind you, I lived on  $349.00 a month with rent of $250 a month, utilities of $30 a month, only $90.00 a month in foodstamps and it was a neighbor who fed me every weekend and the foodbank that made ends meet.  What little money I had left over, if any, went into the constant bicycle maintenance to get me to school or the bus pass in the winter.  I didn't have any--not ANY spare money for loan repayment, and the funny thing is I and I still can't figure this out---how do you justify recieving GAU or SSI and using GOVERNMENT MONEY TO REPAY A STUDENT LOAN?  THIS IS INSANE AND UNDIGNIFIED.

 I finally earned an LPN and was cut off from DVR to complete my RN, where I NEED TO BE, because without the RN, how am I going to be able to pay for the original loan at $10,000 that has now become $44,000.00????????   Why was it defaulted?  Because one, I could not pay the payments they demanded, I was out of medical deferment time allowable.  

Now I earn $13.78 an hour--this is MUCH more than what MANY, MANY, MANY
people earn, but it does NOT reflect a BA or a BS degree.  In order to afford to pay my loans and still live and make my medical payments and pay for a car and save for old age.

But right now, I still have to pay for that RN school.  I still have to pay for medical care.  I still have to repair a 1986 Ford Taurus to get to work and to have any kind of social life.  And about that--haha...try to get a date when you owe student loans in the amount of $45,000 and your debt to income ratio is as sad as mine....how about laughing from the mirror to the armpit on that thought...just try to get a date.  Just TRY.  Try to look for a soulmate or a companion or a lover or even a sugardaddy or best friend when NELLA and GC services send you mail to remind you that "action will be taken against you and your marital partner to collect the total amount owed on this loan."

My car is falling apart.  My teeth are rotting out of my head  my social life has never been able to fall together and what of it I can find falls apart as I only have associated with the poor, I've always BEEN poor, and you know what?

You go through this kind of crap.  It cuts into your mind and your heart and it severs your sanity.  I'm on antidepressants and I am STILL suicidal.  Because after they "rehabilitate the loan" they are going to raise the payments due, and I am BROKE MONTH TO MONTH. I can't repair my car.  I can't eat.  I can't fix my teeth?   But I CAN pay $45,000.00 immediately or face "tough action?"

I can tell you this is the truth--it is how I FEEL.  I would like to leave the country.  I really would.  At least I would be able to start over if I could renounce my citizenship.


So $10,000.00 turns to $45,000.00 so I can repay my suffering and poverty and sickness, either that or I have one hell of a MIDAS TOUCH and never knew that, either.

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