The following are testimonials submitted to this site. To tell your story, please go here.
I went to college in 1991. My major was Electronic Engineering Technology. Around 1992, I changed my major and transferred to a new college and majored in Music Entertainment Management. I graduated in 1994 and married in 1995. My marriage failed and I had a son that passed away shortly after birth. I was bankrupt by 1996 but my student loans continued to accrue interest. I tell this story because today I do not have a job in my field. As a matter of fact I never had a job in my field of study. I went back to school in 2000 to get a massage certification so that I could have some type of useful skill. Since I have been out of college I have not been able to do anything but survive. I have been pay check to paycheck from day 1. It is now 2006 and I am remarried and a stay at home mom of twins. I have no means of income to pay these people back. My credit is destroyed and I feel that I can not win for losing. I went to school to get a good job but I never got the good job so how do I pay off my school loans? I pray daily to win the lottery so that I can pay this debt. That seems to be my only option at this point. My original loan was about $35,000 the other day I got a bill and it says my balance is $148,203.
My story happened before things got as bad as they
are now, back in the early 80s.
Wow, I just watched Dateline. I went back to school
at the age of 43 (1986)...my children and I were living in abject
poverty. I had gone back five years earlier and refused to take
student loans because of the potential debt. But an education offered
me a chance to raise both myself and my children up out of poverty.
Perhaps if I had stopped after my undergraduate degree, I would
have had a chance but I went on to get a PhD in a field that the
jobs are scarce...and finished my degree just before my sixty first
birthday...four years before most people of my generation plan to
retire. I was the first person in my family to have a PhD, and I
did it right...University of California Berkeley for the undergraduate,
and the University of Arizona for the PhD.
I became disabled and received Social Security Disability
benefits in 1987. I returned to college to change careers
to a less stressful occupation. When I finished my undergrad,
I could not find a job. I worked with state vocational rehabilitation.
I completed graduate school in 1994 and still could not find a job
that paid enough to support me, two children and student loan.
I became ill nearly each year with my disability, but state vocational
rehab did not assist me with work, moving, nothing. My original
loan was for $26,045. Although I have not defaulted on my
loan because of frequent illnesses and unemployment my loan is now
over $50000. Sallie Mae holds my loan. I have written
my congressman and senator, but they only offered me a direct student
loan option at a higher interest called ED's William D. Ford Direct
Loan (Direct Loan) Program through Direct Loan's Income Contingent
Repayment (ICR) plan. with this plan I would pay according
to income, the loan would be forgiven after 25 years if not paid.
I am 60 years old and currently unemployed. I have been informed
that if and when I reach retirement age 15% of my social security
will go toward the student loan. I have no retirement from
any employer and my anticipated retirement benefit would be around
$800. I never realized that I would be in this situation.
I do not believe in not paying my bills, but I feel that I do not
have any options. I would like to have a life. Here
is an example of a sacrifice I did to allow for me to pay one year
steadily on my loan. After being told that loan payments were
due when I found a job to get settled in an area that helped my
disability, I moved back home to another state found another job
and was able to pay my loan for one year. However, I got laid
off my job and my illness worsened.
I have no idea Sallieman was a blood thirty parasite
until, I saw the piece at the 60 minutes. I am also a victim. Initially,
my original loan was $42,000. Today, I have paid almost the same
amount to Salliemae yet, I am still oweing them approximately $69,000.
I thought I had it bad. I hated to hear that
others also had complaints about Sallie Mae loans on 60 Minutes
but it was nice to finally hear that someone was looking into the
problem. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am soooooooo
glad someone is finally trying to help the students. I also
have Sallie Mae loans and have had my share of hard times with their
kindness. After graduating from graduate school, I could not
find a job because I had to take my bar exam. Unfortunately,
I did not pass my bar exam yet my loans came due. I postponed
as long as I could yet the loans still added up, even faster when
you postpone and don't pay on the interest. For three months
I could not find a job. I was overqualified for most jobs
(law degree, JD) and underqualified for better paying jobs.
Living in a small town like Augusta, GA, it is hard to find a job
that pays more than $28,000 with benefits and still be able to pay
living expenses, food, insurance, ca!
I quit high school in 1987 and got my GED in 1992.
After talking with a few collegs (including UGA) I realized that
I wouldn't likely pass admissions given my situation. So I
went to the only other college in my area, a private Christian 2-year
school. There, I was welcomed and shown the financial aide
forms without further delay.
I went back to school at the age of 43 because i had
suffered a back injury from a rear end collision (not my fault).
I had previously worked in the medical industry as an EEG Tech.
Telling this story is hard to do. The guilt
I feel over this loan
My story is a little different-but still involving Sallie Mae. I am a teacher and have taught for 6 years. I decided to get my Masters degree, that is the only way to get a raise when you are a teacher. So I got my masters and used Sallie Mae. Before I even started school, I MADE sure, or atleat I thought I did that I could get my loan forgiven, using the teacher loan forgiveness program. My loan was about 7,500 and the government will forgive 5,000 of it if you have taught for 5 years in a low income school, and if you dont have any outstanding loan balance as of October 1998. That is where things got fuzzy the last part b/c I did have a loan for undergrad. before 1998. But I called Sallie Mae and researched but the language on the gov. web sites is confusing. So I depended on Sallie Mae for acurate information regarding the teacher loan forgiveness. BIG MISTAKE. Everytime I called they assured me I would qualify for the loan forgiveness, so I did not apply for any other grants, time after time was told I qualified.Time for Sallie Mae to pay up, and suddenly I dont qualify, because I had a loan which I paid off, by the way befpor oct. 1998-Now it is too late for me to get any other aid, as I am done with school. I understand that is part of teh law and I am ok with that however the people who work at sallie mae are suppose to be able to expalin the laws and terms, etc...even on the gov. web site about the loan forgiveness it tells you to contact your lender for more info. So now I am stuck with the whole loan. My issue is they have incompetent people answering serious questions with wrong information. Maybe if Sallie Mae did not outsource the people who are answering their phones there would be a better line of communication with their clients. I contacted the Senator, and dept of ed. and they basically repeated the laws to me..By the way one of tehir reps. told me they have in their phone logs that they told me I qualified for the forgiveness, but when i wrote one of their big wigs and brought up the exact date the rep. told me Icalled and was told I qualified for the program, the "big wig" said there was no documentation that they ever said that....ok, so I made it all up-please
I am writing this article because of a bad experience I am right now going through with my student loans. Due to a grade dispute, I recently withdrew from an online college (AIU-Online/American Intercontinental University). I knew my loans would be due and was prepared to make my payments. I have 3 loans. (2) Stafford Loans and a Sallie Mae.
The school's financial adviser had described all 3 loans to me as "low interest government loans, which I had qualified for and was very lucky to receive". Because of this they would be easy to pay back. I had the 2 Stafford loans at 6% and the Sallie Mae at 8.25% interest. She then said 2 of the loans were unsubsidized. I asked her what that meant. She said that meant they could fluctuate up or down. I asked her which 2? She said 1 Stafford and the Sallie Mae. I asked her what of the other Stafford Loan? She said it was locked in at a fixed rate of 6%. I then told her I could not afford a loan over 9% interests. She said the way the market is going that both loans, would be going down, to maybe as low as 31/2 or 4% interest but if by some chance they did start to rise I could stop and reschedule classes for a later time or wait for the next semester to see if they go back down, then I could just pick up where I left off continuing the education. The loans are paid to us in installments. Either way it was a great opportunity for me.
My Complaint; When I finally received my statements the 2 Stafford Loans were as described but the Sallie Mae was at 18% interest and fluctuating. Since I do not understand banking terms very well I took it to a local credit union and asked their loan officer to explain it to me. She could not. She said she didn't quite understand it and asked me to go talk with a friend of hers that specializes in student loans for the Federal Government. She is a financial aid adviser at a local private college. Upon showing it to her, she turned it over to her boss. He then told me that Sallie Mae is not a Government entity, but a Private banking institution and that I had been deceived. Many people believe that because of the name Sallie Mae, like a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, that the Federal Government sponsors it. It is not, and if I were you, I would try to get this straightened out with the school. If that doesn't work then you should file a complaint with the Attorney Generals office. I thanked him and have been working excessively trying to get this matter resolved ever since.
AIU is denying everything as if they never tried to sell me the loans. They are denying ever speaking to me about the loans although I spent considerable time with their advisers on the phone prior to entering the school. Their answer, you signed a Promissory Note, and a Truth in Lending Agreement, now you have to pay it. Thus far, a signed promissory note or agreement has yet to be found on the Sallie Mae. I called Sallie Mae. They give me the same answer so I asked them for a copy of my promissory note. They said they were going to put one in the mail. That has been 3 weeks ago. I have still not seen one where I have signed it. I have received an E-mail from both places of an unsigned promissory note with no signature but just my basic information typed in which is supposed to be a copy, which anyone could have typed. They all have this information.
Since then, I have spent many sleepless nights web-searching both the school and the bank. I have read hundreds of sad and horrific stories from people's families where a family member had committed suicide. Others, losing everything they owned from the lure of more money that a college degree could provide. There have been numerous complaints filed against AIU and Sallie Mae for all types of illegal practices. One involves kickbacks from private banks to schools in cash if they can meet a quota to sell so many of their loans. I have also found that Sallie Mae being the largest loan supplier, four times larger than the nearest competitor, is also the largest provider of kickbacks to these schools. Sallie Mae uses a loophole called the School As Lender program sanctioned by Congress. It is legal. Basically, the School As Lender program allows Sallie Mae to pay universities money to help administer the Sallie Mae loans. In return the universities try to sell the Sallie Mae loan to prospective students. I asked AIU if they participated in such a program? They flatly said no.
There are a lot of things that have complicated this situation even more, and makes it harder for me to get to the truth.
1. FAFSA is the government department that determines if you qualify for a government loan. Like most government programs, they want all of your personal information to process your qualifications but they do not give you the results. FAFSA only says I am eligible for Federal Aid. All I received was a code that said my Extended Family Contribution (EFC) was 7101, whatever that means. I can not get any more answers from FAFSA. They will not tell me what types of loans I did actually qualify for such as a Stafford or Pell Grant, etc. They said the university financial aid office would do this. Therefore I was sold 3 low interest government backed loans that I was lucky to have qualified for, for lower income people, although one was really private. I had just gotten over an extended illness and was unemployed at the time of the loans.
2. I asked the school, since I qualified for low interest, low income loans. Why would I sign a paper for a loan of 18% and why would you attempt to sell me such a loan knowing my financial situation, extended illness, and unemployment status, and also after I had told you specifically that I could not afford a loan over 9%? I have 3 statements. If you lay them side by side, they say 6%, 6%, and then one 18%. Their Reply: You signed the note, you have to pay it.
3. I told Sallie Mae that I would be willing to pay the loan at the previously agreed upon 8.25%. But I will not make one single payment on an 18% loan that was brought about by fraud and deceit and misrepresented to me. They responded that since the loan was private and not federal it fell under the auspices of the 1965 Higher Education Act and I have no choice but to pay. Although I was led to believe it was Federal.
4. The way I had decided not to receive a loan over 9% was with the help of the financial aid adviser at the school. She sent me to the Sallie Mae website to use their calculator. This would give me an idea of how much my loan would be and what my payments would cost to see what I could afford. You can still do this. Sallie Mae list's no other fees that could possibly be connected with the loan on this sight.
5. My Statement: It reads, The Current Index is 8.25%. The current margin is 9.85% therefore my current interest rate is 18.125%. I also have what is called an Accrued Unpaid Interest of $860.53 that began the day I received the loan. It has never stopped growing. Is this an extra interest payment being added to my already high 18.125% interest? So now I have 2 interest payments to make to Sallie Mae.
6. My Loan: Loan Balance $5,996.38. Accrued Unpaid Interest $860.53. Total Amount Financed $6, 826.91. Finance Charge $13,096.21. Number of payments 179 months at $110.70 a month for a total cost of $19,923.82. (NOTE) This is for this loan. I still have the 2 Stafford Loans to pay.
7. The Promissory note describing the 2 Stafford Loans is on 1 page each. The Sallie Mae Promissory Note includes 10 pages of confusing fine print that I had the financial aid adviser explain to me in English because I did not understand the first word of it. The main objective was a loan not over 9%. That is what I thought I had achieved.
8. I have since been told by Sallie Mae my loan can go as high as 21%. I have been reading reports and complaints of people having to pay as much as 28% interest. Sallie Mae has told me they have different rates, that it is determined by the laws of each individual state. They are able to sell my loan to another banking institution in another state with a higher interest rate without my knowledge.
9. Public, Private Non-Profit, Private For-Profit: Before initial
enrollment I did the stats and projections for the student drop-out
rates in colleges. All of the stats I could find were done on
Public Schools and Private Non-Profit Schools. I had never heard
of a Private For-Profit school. There is no accurate data whatsoever
to show the actual graduation rate of Private For- Profit schools.
Any school that tells you they have a 80-90% graduation rate is
lying. There are many different ways to compute this, the school
of course is going to show you the best. According to Department
Of Education, and the Digest of Education Statistics only about
50% of all students end up graduating from Public and Private
Non-Profit Schools who have attempted a 4-year degree. That is
about a 50% dropout rate. Statistics show if you are attempting
to go back to school after the age of 25, your chances of graduating
becomes more difficult. You have a 12% chance of graduating!
10. Go to your bank and attempt to get a $2,500 loan for anything. First even if you bank there, you still have to prove you can pay back the loan, or put up some type of collateral to cover the loan. There is no such collateral to provide for a student loan. You can be broke, unemployed, on disability, on social security, no home, no car, no nothing and still receive a loan for education. The only guarantee is you will graduate and then and only then be able to pay the bank back if you succeed to get a good paying job. The bank knows the government will compensate them for their losses, their collection fees, etc. This is your tax money. Some students have loans over $100,000 dollars.
11. An easier way to put this is go to your bank, and try to get a loan of any kind with nothing to back you up. You won't get one period. Especially a signature loan of any value.
12. Why should a bank, or financial institution have the right to try to collect on a loan that the chances of being paid back, statistics show is less than 7% as in my case? They never should have made such a loan?
13. Why should a bank, or financial institution have the right to hurt a person's credit when they are the one's that made a bad loan to start with?
14. Why should a bank or financial institution have the right
to hurt your credit, go through the collections process, make
harassing phone calls during all hours of the day or night, and
send out letters of harassment for collection when no collateral
was put up to start with and it was a very, very, very, high risk
loan? Do they get to bust our knee caps too, is it government
Since investigating this practice I have learned 60 minutes just did a special on it. There has also been a report on CNN. There are several websites that people have reported this and other problems to on both AIU and Sallie Mae. Some Sites to read some horrific stories and place your own story or complaint. 1. studentloanjustice.org 2. ripoffreport.com 3. community.lawyers.com 4. consumeraffairs.com.
It is interesting to note that on ripoffreport.com of all the thousands of Schools and Universities in the United States over half of the complaints belong to 2 schools. These 2 schools are AIU-Online aka: American Intercontinental University and The University of Phoenix that I always receive pop-up ads from. There are hundreds of complaints on the site against these 2 schools. (NOTE) I have no connection with the Phoenix school. I am just listing the facts.
There are numerous complaints against Sallie Mae aka: SLM Corporation on all of these sites also. According to a report in CBS News since 2002, the company has paid Congressman and Political Action Committees nearly 3 million dollars including more than $200,000 to House Majority Leader John Boehner and his PAC. The collusion between Sallie Mae and the Federal Government seems to be a win, win situation for both institutions, but not such a good situation for students. Sallie Mae has lobbied consistently and successfully in the government circle. Each time legislation has been brought up to help students the bill is quickly killed by Sallie Mae's powerful lobby.
The collusion between Sallie Mae and the Federal Government has put thousands if not millions of people in debt in this country. It has made Sallie Mae one of the most profitable companies in the world, and has left people committing suicide, losing everything they own, going homicidal, and giving all of them bad credit, and putting them and their families forever in a sea of debt. Something needs to change. I don't know if it's the laws themselves, or the way they are handled. Why the complication?
When I was given my loan. Why didn't they just say? Mr. Liles, here is a loan offer from Sallie Mae. It is 18% interest. We know you can't afford anything over 9% interests, so let's look somewhere else. This never happened.
Working together, AIU and Sallie Mae make a good team conning people and misrepresenting the facts committing fraud and possibly even racketeering against unknowing prospective students.
If anyone can help me with this situation, I am willing to sue the %#@& out of either party. I am already receiving notices on how they are going to start by killing my credit. This is going to destroy me and put hardship on every financial decision I will have to make with my family from providing my kid's with a decent school lunch, involving them in any extra curricular activities or sports, wondering how I can buy a used or new vehicle with a shot credit report and even payments at the pump. Thank You.
PS. To Prospective Students,
I went to cosemotology school in 2002-03 of December to January. As I work for the government I return in January. I only attended 3 weeks of this cschool. but they are sharging me the entire amount of the student laon i borrowed. Wasn't I suppose to pay just for that 3 weeks as you are given a grace period of 60 days I think to leave if you no onger want to stay at that school? They call me all the time and at present I am not working to pay anything on this loan. I thought all I would owe was for the books and the time period that I stayed in the class, but Direct Loans are sticking to saying I owe them the entire amount. I need an investigation as I am unable to pay for a school that I did not receive a degree or job from.
I borrowed a total of $123,000 for my M.A. and Ph.D. I entered a field in academia that is very low-paying (humanities), so between my mortgage and other credit card debt, I had very little extra money to spare to reduce the principal on this student loan. I was encouraged to consolidate my student loan debt, which I did...at 8.25% interest. I then entered the income contingent repayment plan. The interest on my loan (being negatively amortized) continued to capitalize...and the total balance on the loan now stands at $151,000. The interest that accrues on the loan monthly is over $1,100 dollars. I have been working two full-time jobs for two years to reduce debt, but I cannot battle the interest even with two incomes as a single person...the interest accrual alone amounts to approximately 1/4 of my take-home pay monthly. My loan payments have just increased to $2,000 per month now because I made more money in 2006 from working the two jobs...and despite numerous pleas to Direct Loans and the U.S. Department of Education for some sort of relief, I cannot make any headway whatsoever and have become just about as despondent as a human being can be. I have every intention of repaying the principal of my loan...but I am frustrated and angry and depressed that NO OPTIONS are available to me whatsoever to reduce my interest rate, to file bankruptcy on the accumulated interest...and learning that self-serving Republicans have conspired to manipulate student loan debt for personal gain and profit has depressed me all the more. My entire life has been reduced to work...with no time for friends, family, leisure...and the lack of options available to persons in my situation who overborrowed just to survive during school in their irresponsible twenties is unbearable. Please help...I wish I had money to contribute to your PAC, but I am barely surviving.
To tell your story, please go here.