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Latest Student Loan Update

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I hate student loans. Like, with a fiery passion. I guess they serve a purpose (I would not have been able to get my degrees without them; at least not in the timeframe I did), but there’s just so much wrong with the student loan industry I can’t even start….

*Deep breaths*

Okay. Like I was saying. I hate student loans.

Where does this come from?

Well, my own foolishness, really. I graduated in August 2013. At that time, my loans began accumulating interest. I buried my head in the sand and worked on paying down my credit cards and other consumer debts but didn’t so much as touch the student loans.

And the balances grew, and grew, and grew some more.

It’s disgusting really. When I look at my student loan balances at the end of February 2014 to today, even though I’ve recently started paying more toward the dang things, the overall balance is still up. Of course it is. How could I touch nearly $100,000 of student loan debt when I was so focused on paying down other debts?

I’m not saying I was wrong in doing this. I needed to be consumer debt-free. Needed it.

It was just the motivation necessary to really focus and recommit to get rid of the student loans to begin with.

Let’s back up.

For any new readers, I have a long history of being screwed around by Navient (formerly Sallie Mae). I’ve documented it in what has now become basically a mini-series (see here, here, here). When I last left off, Navient had bought a large student loan I had with ACS. When it transferred over, Navient switched it from a subsidized loan to an unsubsidized loan. This is a HUGE deal to me because I’m on income-based repayment (IBR) and, under this plan, unpaid interest is forgiven on subsidized loans (but NOT for unsubsidized loans). All the electronic records at ACS disappeared and Navient claimed they were unavailable due to the transfer. I had NO proof (besides this little old bloggy) to show that the loans had, indeed, been subsidized the entire time I’ve had them (thus, why the balances had never grown in spite of my measley not-large-enough-to-cover-interest payments. I never even chipped into the principal balance, but since unpaid interest was forgiven, the balances remained exactly the same month after month).

Now Navient is charging me money for interest, claiming the loan was always unsubsidized (definitely not true).

You guys. It makes me so angry that my blood just boils! It’s hard to talk about without losing composure.

I got a third party group involved, the Ombudsman Group. In the meantime I also wrote all my legislatures about my experiences. I’ve spoken with several representatives inside Navient. I’ve jumped through hoops to try to prove these loans were subsidized. Navient had me call the loan guarantor, I had to track down an original master promissory note from my old university (this was a loan from my Master’s degree back in Florida). The list of things goes on, and on, and on. But all of it was pointless, as even the original promissory note does NOT list the type of loan (i.e., subsidized versus unsubsidized).

Ombudsman Group conducted an investigation and after literal months, I got the call. They are siding with Navient. Because apparently the loan on the government’s website is called Loan 07 Unsubsidized.

Let me repeat.

THE NAME OF THE FREAKING LOAN IS ‘UNSUBSIDIZED.’

To me, this is proof of nothing. Any dummy could have labeled or misnamed the loan. Where is any paperwork proving that the loan was unsubsidized? Why can Navient not furnish any of the past paperwork and history of this loan (that was originally through ACS)? Why does ACS simply delete every trace of the loan as if it never existed so I cannot retrieve old records from them either? I’ll mention, also, that I do have some old ACS statements, but they ONLY provide the payment due. They say nothing about subsidized versus unsubsidized, nor do they even provide the loan balance. It literally only gives the payment due amount.

Because of the name that someone typed up for this loan I’m now out hundreds of dollars in interest. The name, which I don’t trust, nor do I believe, lest the government has screwed itself out of interest from me for the entire time the loan was housed through ACS and I’m SURE they’re not just giving me free interest for over half a decade – the loan is from 2009 – unless the loan REALLY IS A SUBSIDIZED LOAN. Only I can’t prove it.

So there you have it. Chapter closed.

The loan is too high of a balance for me to do a full balance transfer on (my limit for the transfer is $7500 and the loan is nearly $18,000). But I’m seriously considering halving the loan by doing a balance transfer on half. This one specific loan (out of my long, long list of student loans) is EATING ME ALIVE. I want to slam my head into a wall over the injustice that is occurring to me and, undoubtedly, countless others in the student loan world. The scary thing is that this could be happening all the time. Before I really started getting out of debt I didn’t monitor my student loans AT ALL. I had a budget for day-to-day/routine spending, but student loans were not a part of that discussion. They were buried away until the day I wrote my first debt update here (that was literally the first time I’d added it all up, as naive as that sounds).

Suffice it to say, I’m awake now. My head is out from under the sand. But I’m still partially buried beneath the mountain of student loan debt. Luckily, I’ve just received a battery re-charge (from becoming consumer debt-free) and I’m furiously clawing and pulling my way up from the depths of the debt-hole.

I know better now. And I’ll pass it on to all who will hear me.

Don’t go into student loan debt. If at all humanly possible, just don’t do it. I wrote about ways to avoid student debt here.

I’ve had a couple people ask about what’s happened with the student loans, so this is the answer. Nothing good, that’s for sure. Time to go into attack mode. I’m still trying to build our savings a little more, but very soon I will be WAGING WAR against my student loans. That’s really how it feels, too. Like I’m about to walk into battle. I hate these things that much. So let me build up my reserves. There’s never been a better time for a relaxing vacation (see: Cruise 2016). Upon my return….I just hope Navient is ready to take the figurative beating I’m about to impart. I want them out of my life and gone. It’s about to go down. Join me on my quest to kill my student loans? While we’re at it, lets kill yours too!

Anyone else have student loans that have been hanging around for a half decade or longer? Anyone else with nearly triple-digit student loan debt? I know I’m not the only one. Let’s join forces (figuratively speaking) and beat down on our loans together! Strength in numbers!!! : )

Ashley

Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!

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36 Comments

  • Reply Cad |

    What about your school? My undergrad/grad school keeps the records of what they award you- which should show sub/unsub

    • Reply Ashley |

      Nope. They were some of the first people I called. They had the original master promissory note, but due to the age of the loan, that is the only remaining record they have of it. I guess they dump other records after some “X” period of time.

    • Reply Linda Susan |

      This is all making me ill….. Asley I feel like I know you……I feel like i know all of you……Its like a family of the never ending unconscionable stories….. My loan in the blink of an eye of a year just went up one day $80,000 by Navient…… What the heck is this? My God why hasn’t this ridiculous president who helps prisoners first, done something about this, and especially about Navient. Navient has had so many complaints…… To see my own loan go up $80,000 in one day after a year. What did they do, go shopping and send me the bill? ..It is unconscionable …….We have to do something …… Im 65 years old. I swear to God, if they touch my SS, I will go public as I walk with the damn cane to Washington… We should all do that……… We have to do something……. There has to be a way to magnify an urgency of fairness. Im upset………take care Asley and all of you……..stay well… Linda Susan

  • Reply Jen |

    My student loans are like a weight on my head… keeping me from rising to the surface level – I feel like I am drowning beneath the weight of them. I hate them. I couldn’t have received an education without them but I definitely resent the hell out of the costs of education and the lack of education about student loans. It is just so damn depressing to look at my student loan balance. DO NOT TAKE OUT STUDENT LOANS!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Amen! It’s my opinion that they’re really taking advantage of young adults who are legally old enough to take out the loans, but are not mentally capable of understanding the long-term consequences of such monstrous sized debt. It’d be damn tough for an 18-year-old to get a mortgage. But we’ll saddle them down with mortgage-sized student loans without batting an eye. It’s not right.

  • Reply Ms. Mintly @ MintlyBlog |

    Oh, Ashley, I feel for you! I’ve had battles with Navient (nee Sallie Mae) for a long time now. They try to make it as difficult as possible to simply pay down your principal with additional payments (as I know you’ve experienced) and done other crap, but your story really takes the cake! The fact that any company somehow deleted all records once a transfer occurred is RIDICULOUS. I actually thought that kind of thing couldn’t happen. (Naive!) Kudos to you for reaching out to officials to let them know about these issues – I know that’s time consuming, but how wonderful that you are sharing your experiences so that they will know and hopefully vote differently.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I hope so! I haven’t heard back from a single representative and I contacted multiple people. : /

  • Reply Marzey doats |

    How much money are we talking here? I imagine that given the change in your employment status, you won’t be on income based repayment for much longer, right? If the amount of interest that should have been forgiven is less than 3,500, you can go after them in small claims court.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I haven’t calculated the actual interest (it makes me sick), but I’m sure it’s less than $3500. The loan balance is $18,000 at 6.5% APR. I can’t recall off the top of my head when the transfer occurred (which is when the internet started accumulating), but I’d guesstimate it was about October of last year?? I’d have to go back and review my records to see.

  • Reply scarr |

    This is such an awful experience. I had a few incidents with Navient: my monthly payment fell on a Saturday one month and when I went to check the balance on Sunday it said I was late. I was enrolled in auto-pay so I didn’t understand why it would say I was late. I called them and they didn’t really explain it to me either but they removed the “late payment” notice. That always stuck with me, what happens to people who don’t pay attention? How much are they charged for fees when their payment date falls on a weekend?

    I am guilty of not paying attention – I never paid attention to my loans until I started paying them off. I was able to pay off the loans in February 2016, which is great for me, but since then so many friends have said how they don’t even know how much their loans are or that they will never be able to pay them off. I know that feeling of helplessness. I feel like the main thing I have learned paying off these loans is, like you, don’t take out student loans. Find a way to postpone taking out loans for as long as possible!

    • Reply Ashley |

      YES! Congrats on getting rid of yours! That’s recent, too! What a great feeling of accomplishment! I 100% believe that the big student loan companies (at least Navient, probably others too) are consistently screwing people over on a regular basis. The example you gave (late notice) is a perfect example. A quick google shows Navient has been sued for similar injustices many, many times. The fact that this is allowed to continue just blows my mind. And the fact that many people probably have no idea that they’re being screwed over (if they don’t carefully monitor) makes me sick.

  • Reply anon |

    I’m sorry you’re going through this! But, everything I’ve read about IBR states that it only forgives that interest for three years. After that, you continue making your minimum regular payments and after 25 years all of your unpaid balance (principle and interest) is forgiven. I guess it would slightly affect your taxes in 25 years (forgiving a larger amount), but how long have you been on IBR? Also, I have a feeling you wouldn’t qualify for it much longer anyway given your increased income. Silver linings! Finally if you feel you want extra help, contact the CFPB (consumer finance.org). They’re a govt agency that handles complaints against loan providers and they helped me with an issue I was having with Navient in about a week!

    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s true, but I haven’t been on IBR for 3 years yet. I applied for it after I started blogging here. My renewal comes up in August (that will be the 2-year mark). We’ll see if I can stay on it or not at that point, given our increased income.
      Thanks for the tip about CFPB. I’ll definitely reach out to them!!!

  • Reply Jay |

    Im concerned that the IBR will end up hurting more folks than it helps. That is because it the focus is the low payments now – when in reality lots of interest is actually accruing. I would not want to increase the size of my loans under the premise that I would continue to make a low enough salary for 25 straight years to get the enticement at the end. Plus you know with the government the rules will constantly change(or be an administrative nightmare as you can attest).

    Just knock ’em out!

  • Reply Cathy D |

    I have to congratulate you on your efforts and your desire to pay back your student loans. So many young people consider them free money and do not plan to ever pay them back. That will eventually be a major problem for our country, like the mortgage crisis was. I know many parents that are drowning in debt over loans they took out to put their kids through college and now they wonder how they will ever retire. Fortunately you have wisdom to pass down to your children and they will never have the financial debt that you have been through. You should get some kind of bonus points or something for all your efforts.

  • Reply Maureen |

    Yeah! for waging the war on student loan debt. Poof, be gone! If it was only that easy. I have shared comments before on my student loan debt journey. I started with over $180,000 from just law loans and part of my grad loans. I was able to pay cash for my undergrad loans (only took out a small $2500 loan for a study abroad program but paid back in a year). I paid cash for half of my grad school and took out loans for the remaining portion (about 20K of the $180K is from grad school).

    Then, I decided it was a good idea to go get a law degree. I have paid enough in interest in the last 7 years to buy a luxury SUV (argh!). I have been out of school for 7 years and still owe $116K. For the first year I put my loans in forbearance and then for another 3 years I paid only the minimum payments which started as high as $1100/month (on a graduated 25 year repayment plan but not IBR-I do not qualify for IBR because of my spouse’s income). I make less than I made as a K-12 educator (my first career), but with my spouse’s good income and what I do make, in the last 2 years I have been waging WAR on my student loans. I have paid off more than 50K in principal in the last 2 years and want to pay off more than $30K this year. I hope to eradicate the remaining $116K in the next 3 years (or less!). I have been lucky though, that all my student loans when transferred/sold were sent to ACS. They make overpaying my loans easy. I can choose what loan, how much, and it’s credited in 1-2 business days. Never had a problem. With that said, I am working on a $32K loan @ 6.75% right now. I hope to have it paid off by October. Saving the $2500 in interest on that loan each year is what keeps me motivated. LET’S GET RID OF THE STUDENT LOAN DEBT!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Heck yeah! Congrats on the major payments so far! Let’s continue to kick some student loan booty!

  • Reply Irene Haidner |

    Wow sounds like you are having lots of fun but as soon as you said government I am only too familiar with that ring tone. Hope you have luck. Glad I found your blog I’m curious as to what happens next. Take care

  • Reply RRR |

    You should have paid this student loan prior to paying off your car. It had a higher interest rate. Many people tried to reason with you but you wanted to have a paid for car.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Yep, and I don’t regret it at all. Like I said above, I needed that mental boost. To each his/her own.

  • Reply Mary |

    As much as I would love to go back and get a Masters degree, thinking about student loans stops me in my tracks. It took me 7 years to pay back my undergrad loans and it was only $20,000. I don’t think it’s worth taking out $40,000-$60,000 and have to go through that hot mess of repayment again.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Amen! You could always try to find other ways to pay for the degree if you’re really passionate about it, but student loans are not the answer!

  • Reply cad |

    the other thing to keep in mind, which i believe i have mentioned here before, is if you work for a university (among other qualifying institutions) your student loans are forgiven after 10 years of qualifying payments. i would investigate whether these past years you have worked at the online school and now university can meet these!! (if you are still paying them in 10 years..)

    • Reply Ashley |

      Pretty sure they don’t retroactively apply the Public Service loan forgiveness thing. My plan is to pay them off before 10 years anyway. I’m just suspicious of any government forgiveness programs, in general, and Maureen is right that taxes are still owed on any forgiven debt (it basically counts like income).

  • Reply Angie |

    I’m nearing the 10 year anniversary of my graduation. I was hoping to payoff our loans by that date. Currently we have 8k left out of the 220k we’ve started with. Last time I tallied it up we paid well over 300k to student loans. Its been a LONG journey for sure. Luckily I’ve never once had an issue with my loan companies regarding interest calculations or how they applied extra payments!

    However, I always knew DH’s parents took out loans on his behalf. Although I don’t understand how they managed to take out loans on top of the 95k he took out. Finally manned up and asked them for the payment info so we could help them tackle that too. I was astonished to find out they had taken out nearly 40k in loans for him… How? I have no freaking clue. So I guess my student loan payoff journey will not be ending anytime soon as I anticipated… Ugh… I feel they will never go away! Student loans are slavery.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Wow, that’s crazy! Are you guys doctors? Lawyers? It makes me sick to think about how much I’ll actually pay toward student loans by the time everything is said and done (including interest, etc.) Ick!

      • Reply Angie |

        Nope, 95% was undergraduate loans. I actually paid for most of my Master’s out of pocket. Just chose an expensive school and no one advised me otherwise. Although I really wish they had! I wish I had the salary of a doctor or lawyer instead, after a long stint of unemployment a few years ago, and a move I just now am making the salary I did directly out of school. Almost there….

        • Reply Angie |

          Also, another major factor was a lot of it was private loans during the time when interest rates were 7-9%. So the entire time I was in school it was accruing interest at that rate! This added a lot to the total balance for both of us. There weren’t any private loan refinance companies available in that time that would work with us either.

  • Reply Leah |

    I feel your pain! I finished grad school in December 2013 and started paying on my loans during summer 2014. I was fortunate that I walked away with only a few thousand in undergrad loans from a very expensive private school, HOWEVER my master’s program was also very expensive and I racked up almost $70,000 in loans over only 3 semesters! It makes me sick! Even though I am chipping away at the principal balance now with my payments (about a 50/50 split between principal and interest), I’ve only paid off a few thousand dollars over the past 2 years! Right now I’m focused on paying off the rest of my consumer debt (~$7,500) and then I’m kicking some major student loan booty!

    • Reply Ashley |

      I can definitely relate to this! I think your Master’s cost about the same as mine (I think mine was in the neighborhood of 50-60k), but then I went on with the doctorate which is where the rest of my student loans come from. I switched schools though, which helped, because my Masters cost way more $ and was a shorter period of time.
      Good luck wrapping up the rest of your consumer debt! Not too far to go!

  • Reply DD @ DoubleDebtSingleWoman |

    Ashley, I can sooo relate to your frustration and anger. After years of struggle I just paid off over $30k in credit card debt and can FINALLY start attacking my student loan debt, now $110,000+.
    (Almost all of it from grad school where I lost way too many years of my life that I can’t get back.) I have 12 loans handled by one servicer and have managed to keep them at bay by making minimum payments on time. I fear the circus that may happen when I try to pay them down like the crazy-making you are having to deal with. Ugh!! I have learned my lesson about debt! Never EVER again!

    I am looking into refinancing my student loans with one of the newer loan startups (SoFi, CommonBond, etc) to lower my interest rate and to get everything simplified. I think it will be a good move for me. Let me know if I can help answer any questions about the process.

    I’m with you in the mission to destroy student loan debt!! Let’s do it!

  • Reply Jay S. Fleischman, Esq. |

    Ashley, the interest is subsidized only for the first 3 years you’re in IBR. Doesn’t change the issue of mischaracterizing the loan, but it does limit the downside in the long-term.

So, what do you think ?