The following are testimonials submitted to this site. To tell your story, please go here.
I finished law school in
Pennsylvania in 1998.
I had $92,000 in federally
guaranteed student loans from the mid 90's.
I defaulted after I lost my job and had to survive as
a single parent. I recently contacted Sallie
Mae who holds my loans, and they told me to contact
a company called GC Services out of Houston.
They told me that I now owe $167,000!!!
The representative at GC Services was rude and abusive
and threatened everything that she could think of!
I can't believe that these private companies are ripping
us all of with the blessings of the Federal Government.
This is outrageous and puts all of us into a bind with
the "system". In fact GC Services
told me that they would continue to ruin my credit rating,
which keeps me from applying for many positions.
This "robbery" has to be stopped.
They don't care that they ruin people's lives and get
away with practices that no other lenders are allowed
II began my program with
Union Institute and University in Washington D.C. at
UIU's "Office for Social Responsibility" (1710
Rhode Island Ave. NW #110) and at the Governor’s House
Hotel (1615 Rhode Island Ave.) which were clearly noted
as sites in their student handbook/program overview,
a book describing what they termed their "low-residency"
Doctoral program. A series of events and complaints
have transpired from the time I enrolled to this point,
so I will recap.
I have written to every agency and representative I could research.
I hope your organization
can make a difference.
In short...through a screw-up
at Virginia Commonwealth College Student Aid Dept. in
1984, caused by a new computer system, those of us who
were expecting Pell Grants never received them.
I was entering my senior year, and faced with the dilemma
of accepting 4-5 student loans to cover my very expensive
Art History curriculum, I was forced to either accept
private loans or drop out. I don't recall the
amounts of the loans but I believe they were each $2500.00.
My story may not fit the
stereotype, but is interesting just the same.
I was a Vietnam Era servicemember, and as such, was
under the impression I would have all education benefits
paid with no questions asked. I went to a Semi-truck
driving course in Texas in 1987, after getting out of
the military. At first, I believed I had no obligation
to pay this, after over 10 years of active duty service.
Mine is a somewhat different story -- a story of a greedy company that doesn't want to let one of its paying customers go.
I am not in default. In fact, I have paid off my most recent student loans -- FFLEP loans for $18,500 for additional post-graduate ecudation -- TWICE according to my original loan agreement, my disclosure and repayment schedules (2 of them), and Sallie Mae's own payment history records.
Nonetheless, Sallie Mae has been insisting -- without any serious investigation, analysis, or explanation -- for over 6 months that I continue to owe them over $1,400. Their approach to resolve the dispute is to consciously ignore my letters and attached proof of satisfaction of my loans, not to mention their own records, and ramp up their abusive debt collection practices. Their interim replies say keep making payments while they investigate; and they won't cease the collection tactics unless I sign a forebearance agreement . . . i.e., admit that I owe a debt that I cannot pay at this time. . . neither of which is true.
I paid my debt in full according to my loan agreement, each of the 2 separate repayment schedules, and their annual letters adjusting the payment amount. But, since April of 2006 - that's when the 120th payment automatically came out of my account under the original repayment schedule -- when I stopped automatic paymets toward my loan, I have been stuck in a surreal situation, a virtual "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" with Sallie Mae. They keep shooting me bills, tacking on late fees, unleashing the loan guarantor, and most recently a collection agency . . . all for a debt I don't owe.
I shoot back letters with my original loan agreement, the 2 repayment schedules, my 10-year payment history from their own records, all proving that I have paid my loan under each repayment schedule and that Sallie Mae actually owes me money. Their failure to seriously review and understand these documents and their aggressive collection tactics all the while, is Sallie Mae's way of saying "Agreements? . . . We don't need no agreements. We don't have to pay attention to any of your stinking agrements, payment schedules, or payment histories. We're Sallie Mae."
In short, I began paying the above loans back, to Edu Serv at the time, in April 1996 per a repayment schedule that called for 120 payments of $240.54 for a total amount of $28,864.80. The first payment due under this schedule was due on 05/01/1996. I made all payments early to on-time with payments on average being about 25 days early.
Then, in December 2006 I received a revised repayment schedule from EduServ. The revised schedule called for 107 payments of 248.96 beginning on 01/10/1997 for a new total amount of $26,638.72. I made all 107 payments under this schedule. Under this schedule, my loan should have been paid off in October 2005. Sallie Mae kept taking monthly payments out of my account (another $925) until I stopped payments in April 2006.
After 10 years of 120 consecutive payments under these repayment schedules, Sallie Mae claims I still owe them money. They -- per their internal Ombudsman -- also claim they cannot turn off the collection process while they take months to figure out what went wrong. They will only do so If I sign a forebearance agreement.
The latest word from the Ombudsman is they've figured out their mistakes, they're going to remove late fees and credit me for interest they over charged me, but (according to them) I still owe them money. I told the Ombudsman that I want it explained in writing, but to inform Sallie Mae's management that this is unacceptable. Sallie Mae needs to hold itself accountable for any mistakes it may have made, not the customer who made all payments (all 107 and/or 120) as they instructed.
Lesson Learned for those
paying their loans diligently: Don't just accept their
written word each year regarding the amount of your
new monthly payments. Make them show you how they figured
your new payment each year and how it correlates to
your repayment schedule and, particularly, the total
number of payments due under that schedule. They make
mistakes, and they'll do their darndest to hold you
responsible and accountable for them, so hold
their feet to the fire first. Make them get every detail
right up front!
After reading all these
stories, I see that I am in good company. I grew
up in WV and was the first of my family to go to college.
I thought that in our great country all our offered
an education and if you are smart enough and work hard
enough, college is available to all. It is, but
at a huge cost. Unfortunately, I thought I could
borrow the money and I could pay it back. My balance
has grown since I have been out of school since I have
qualified for financial hardship deferments. I
am in my forties now and have never defaulted.
I hold on to the thought that when I die, these loans
are forgiven. That makes me happy. This
huge amount will hound me till the day I die and I will
keep paying---like I said, until I absolutely cannot.
I have never been in default; though I have often qualified
for deferments. But as you know, when in deferment,the
loan keeps going up and up and up. Like I said,
some day I will not owe the Student Loan Lender---that
will be when I die. I just thought though, I guess
I will have to die before I get Social Security since
they will take the student loan payment out of that,
and then there will be nothingto live on. I am
working class and not wealthy at all. No savings.
Maybe we were fooled into going to college after all---though
I thank God for my knowledge--I am smarter, though there
is not a direct corrolation between education and high
My story isn't any different
than the others here. I borrowed a little over $20,000
from Sallie Mae (when I am done paying back my loans
I will have paid nearly triple that amount) to get an
education which I was sure would guarantee that I obtained
a decent paying job right out of college. Boy was I
living in a dream world. Soon after graduation Sallie
Mae started sending the letters. Hence my hell on Earth
began. It's really sad when you have to choose between
grocery shopping and paying back student loans. I've
been late twice and both times my parents were at the
receiving end of Sallie Mae's nasty calls and letters.
One time they even called my grandmother to "find
out where I was" (as if they hadn't just called
me AT WORK to harass me the day before). This has got
to stop. There has to be something we can do. I have
a loan thru another company (NelNet) and they are not
nearly as bad as Sallie Mae.
I made it through undergrad college without problems. I took out federal loans, did work-study jobs on campus and worked a part-time job. I paid off about $2,000 in debt when I graduated from my state school in 1982.
In 1987, I decided to go to graduate school. It was the biggest mistake of my life. I expected my "business" degree would allow me to enter into a nice job with a good salary. Using primarily private loans, I racked up about $90,000 in debt. I was horrified at how much money I owed. But in the midst of school, I decided to finish and try to deal with my situation. My debt was over $100,000 when I finished.
I graduated in 1990, into one of the worst job markets in decades, and could not find a job in my field. I obtained a deferment but the debt just kept growing. I was earning about $3,000 a month, but the loan payments the borrowers wanted was more than half of that. Faced with either having an apartment and food or paying the loans, I chose shelter and food.
As I fell further and further behind, the letters and calls from the debtors became overwhelming. My debt kept rising - closer to $125,000 with penalties and interest. And my job search did not go well. Finally, in 1992, I declared bankruptcy. While some of my student debt was wiped out, the law at that time did not permit student debt to be discharged unless you had already been paying for seven years. I hadn't, so I was stuck.
Then, the banks began selling and reassigning my notes all over the country. I could not even keep track of who I owed, how much or what the payments were.
The worst of the lot was HEMAR in South Dakota. They were relentless, threatening, demanding and nasty. I had bill collectors call me and threaten to sue me if I didn't come up with a $10,000 payment in 10 days. Others threatened to take away my driver's license or any professional license I held. None of this was true, of course.
So, by 1994, my credit was ruined and I had a debt of more than $150,000. I had found work by then, but was earning about $40,000. After taxes, again, I barely had enough to pay my own living expenses. I didn't even own a car for 3 years. And the demand letters keep coming.
Recently, Sallie Mae has created a new debt collection group called Arrow Financial and they have been calling daily, sometimes three times a day, since April or May. The collectors are like robots, they read scripts and demand payments but have no flexibility nor inclination to hear anything I have to say.
I live in an apartment, I cannot buy a house. I have a 1990 car. And I have a $150,000 debt still hanging over my head. It cannot be discharged, it cannot be removed and I cannot pay it.
I have become resigned that I will probably die with this debt still on my name. Taking out those loans was the worst mistake in my life. If there was a do-over, I would have much rather stayed in other careers without an advanced degree or gone to state schools, worked and paid my way as I went.
But in the 80s, everyone said you should get the additional degree and worry about paying later. Sign the papers.
So I did.
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