Browsing posts in: Student Loans

You Told Me So

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When we were going through the process of getting a mortgage, we shopped around with a lot of different lenders and ended up with a company that we were…luke-warm about after it was all said and done.

The experience, itself, wasn’t exactly pleasurable. I know it’s stressful anytime you buy a house, etc. etc., but there were some things I didn’t share that were really frustrating. But the one GREAT thing this lender had that no one else could compete with was a stellar interest rate. We got our loan at a 2.75% APR!!!

At that time, a handful (maybe 2 or 3?) of commenters mentioned the option of perhaps rolling some of our student loan debt into the house. Our loan was for well below the appraisal price of the home, so this could have been an option (note: not for all the student loans, but a portion of it).

Hubs and I talked about it and decided against it. Ultimately, we both just felt a little “yucky” at the thought of rolling student loan debt into the house. It just didn’t sit right with us and we took that as a sign that we should probably do something different. The plan was always to look into student loan consolidation companies after the mortgage went through.

When the mortgage was finally funded in early November, I started shopping around just a couple weeks later.

First I was denied by a place. (update: the “negative mark” was, indeed, my delinquent account I’d mentioned in this post. It’s old enough that it should be off my report – and it has, indeed, fallen off of 2 of the 3 credit agencies, but it’s still sitting on the third. I’ve completed a formal dispute so hopefully this will be rectified soon).

And then I discovered that other places really couldn’t offer better rates at all! Here’s a sampling of rates that I was offered:

6.99%

6.49%

5.37%

My current student loan interest rates range from 5.8 – 6.5, so there’s not even really much of a savings compared to what I currently pay.

And now I just kind of feel foolish. I feel like I should have listened to YOU and put some of that student loan debt in with the house debt. Ugh! I guess hindsight is 20/20, right?

This has stalled plans a bit in regard to the student loan consolidation. I’m just not crazy about a 5.37% APR. Yes, it’s lower than my current interest rate. But is it low enough to go through all the paperwork hassles and the fact that I’d now have one GIANT loan instead of multiple, smaller loans to tackle?

I don’t know.

And, that must be balanced against the fact that I truly despise our current lender, Navient.

Again, I just don’t know.

I’ve been doing these balance transfers on a credit card I don’t use. It has a limit of $7,500 and allows me to do balance transfers at a 0% APR for 12 months at a 3% initiation fee (note: this is the current “deal” as of today. In the past, I’ve been able to score as low as a 2% initiation fee, but for a shorter amount of time – I believe 6 months; That “deal” isn’t showing up anymore so it may have been discontinued).

Anyway – that’s the best rate I can get. But that’s only $7,500 at a time and I still have a MOUNTAIN of debt to contend with (most recent debt update here).

So I’m kind of at a loss. Here’s what I’m thinking in terms of a plan moving forward (though I’d love to hear your thoughts, too, so please chime in!):

  • I’ll keep all the subsidized loans with Navient (I’m receiving forgiveness on unpaid interest through August). I’ll pay minimums on those to reap the interest-forgiveness benefits.
  • I’ll continue doing these balance transfers to reap the benefits of the lower interest (with the note that I’m always EXTRA CAREFUL to ensure they are fully paid off by the deadline so I don’t get hit with penalties and sky-high interest). As each balance transfer is paid in full, I plan to continue to initiate new transfers up to the $7,500 limit as allowed.
  • Finally, I’ll continue paying aggressively toward the remaining (unsubsidized) loans.

This seems like the best course of action for now. Unless someone can offer me a better interest rate on a consolidation, that is.

Thoughts?

 


My Loan Request Was DENIED!!!

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First thing’s first. Welcome, Amy! I’m so excited to have another blogger up in the mix! I was a reader long before I was a contributor here so I’m super pumped to be able to follow another blogger on their debt journey! Yay!!! I can’t wait to get to “know” Amy as we share this debt-reduction journey together!

(Side Note:  I’ve also seen many people ask about Hope in recent comments. I don’t have any updates, but I’ll send her a quick email today just to pass along our warm thoughts and kind regards. I honestly don’t have any additional information at this time but I wanted to address it because I know lots of have asked about her recently).

I hope all our American readers had a lovely Thanksgiving this past week! It was JUST what I needed! Quiet, low-key, relaxing, etc. We spent a solid 3 days in a row at home (we had friends over for play dates on Friday & Saturday so we weren’t all alone), and it was GLORIOUS to just hang out and relax. This was our first Thanksgiving in a very long time where we were just at home – we didn’t go anywhere and we didn’t have any guests here, either. I used it as an excuse to go super easy for Thanksgiving. We just had meat, 2 sides, and a single dessert. That’s it. I have to admit that I kind of missed not having a ton of Thanksgiving leftovers (my favorite is a thanksgiving sandwich with cranberry sauce, stuffing, and turkey – but we didn’t even do ANY of those foods this year! Our main was ham and our sides were green beans & sweet potato casserole). We did buy a mini (2 lb) butterball turkey that I’ll probably cook sometime this week, but hubs had specifically requested ham for our main meat for Thanksgiving so that’s what we had.

And then I applied for a student loan consolidation….and I was DENIED!!!!!

I couldn’t even believe it.

According to Credit Karma, my credit is in the “excellent” range. They have my credit at a 760 or 785, depending on the site (Equifax & Transunion, respectively).

What possible reason would they have for denying me a line of credit?

An outstanding collection.

That’s what they said. The thing is, I’ve literally only had one “derogatory” mark on my credit in my life. It was from when I was 18 or 19 (nearly 15 years ago now) for not paying for those 10 DVD’s for 1 penny thing (mine was via Columbia House, but surely you’re familiar with those programs – there were several in that time-frame). It was a legitimate debt that I owed and, funny thing is, I even tried to pay for it a few years after-the-fact, but I couldn’t get the creditor to send me a letter stating that the debt would be settled in full after payment, so I never sent the payment. It aged until it fell off my credit and I haven’t even thought about it in years.

According to Credit Karma, I have no derogatory marks/late payments/etc (like I said, due to its age, this one negative mark long-ago fell off my credit report). I’m telling you, I’m kind of a stellar client from a lender’s perspective. I’m conscientious, pay on time, more than the minimum, etc. etc. Plus the lender who denied me also had me link my different bank accounts so they could see that I had lots of assets available (not only from my EF, but also my retirement, and I’m listed as a joint account holder on my Dad’s account, too, so although  I don’t consider his money “mine”, its a lot of additional liquid assets that are mine from a legal perspective since it’s a joint account). Soooo…what the heck? I don’t get it. But that’s that.

So this lender is out. I still have other options, but I was just shocked about this denial. Truly, genuinely shocked.

Have you ever been caught off-guard about an unexpected credit denial?

How did you spend your Thanksgiving holiday? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?


Student Loan Refinance

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I’m sure I sound like a total flake after just saying (in my most recent post) that I likely would NOT be refinancing all of my student loans at this time….but now I’m leaning the other way again.

Here’s the deal – Navient just won’t get their act together and stop pissing me off! It’s just such a terrible company to do business with. I hate them so much I’m really considering giving up my interest-forgiveness just so I can get rid of working with them as a lender!!!

Remember my most recent Navient snafu? As a quick catch-up, they overcharged me for 2 months over the summer (to the tune of about $500 each month). I called to have the money re-allocated toward the correct loans (I want the money to all go toward my unsubsidized loans – as currently dispersed the over-payment was spread equally across all loans). I was told this problem was being resolved (second time I called about it). On call #3 I’m basically told it’s just not going to happen. They claim that my initial Income-Based-Repayment plan application was denied.

This, in spite of the fact that I have NEVER received any documentation from the company saying anything about a denial. In fact, quite the opposite, I have documentation showing my IBR renewal was approved.

I’m told that it was initially denied due to over-payment on my loans (go figure). Then when I called in early October about the discrepancy, somehow they went ahead and approved the IBR, which went into effect in October. Essentially meaning that during the previous two months (August & September) I was not on IBR and, therefore, was not overcharged on my monthly payment. There would be no payment re-allocation, I am told.

That’s it.

I have no fight left in me. I’ve been down this road before – I’ve written my legislatures, I’ve involved a third party conflict-resolution group, I’ve jumped through all the hoops and taken all the necessary steps, spending hours of time, attention, and never-ending phone calls and ultimately I lost. I’m not even going to fight it this time. I haven’t the time.

So I kind of feel defeated. But at the same time, I feel like I absolutely cannot stand to do business with Navient any longer.

And so, perhaps a little sooner than I’d thought just one week ago, I’m going to start researching student loan consolidation programs.

I’ve already received lots of great comments on what many readers have done, but this time around I want more specifics. If any of you have refer-a-friend codes, please leave them in the comments. I’m going to look into at least a few different loan consolidation programs/places to check for interest rates. I’ll probably do a consolidation in December. I’m still not sure if it will be a full or partial consolidation (I still may opt to only consolidate unsubsidized loans initially – I want to look into different options). Just any tips or suggestions would be appreciated. I’ll certainly report back on what I’ve found when I am done with all my research, too!


Grin and Bear It!

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Hi all!

I hope your weeks are off to a nice start! It’s still stifling hot here in Tucson (mid 90’s over the weekend), but we’ve been packing in lots of fun fall activities! This weekend we went to a pumpkin patch and the kids had an absolute blast! As they get older it’s so fun to really celebrate and enjoy the holidays together!

Today I just wanted to give you the latest on my Navient grievance that I aired last week. Basically….it’s gotten worse (is that possible? yes, yes it is).

My payment due date is the 10th. Recall I was being overcharged by $500/month and was told they would not have it resolved by my October payment, but it should be shortly thereafter. So I logged into my account like a fun little game – how much have I been charged???

Only I see a long line of red exclamation marks and this message:

PAST DUE!

PAST DUE!

PAST DUE!

PAST DUE!

PAST DUE!

On every one of my Department of Education loans (strangly, the federal loans were fine).

Ummmmm…..how can that be? I’ve been on auto-pay for over 2 years!

I call up to Navient and am informed that – somehow that no one can quite explain – my auto payment withdrawal has been removed from my Department of Education account. ALL of those loans are past due.

I asked if this was related to their overcharging me to the tune of $500/month?

They don’t know.

I asked if this would affect my income based repayment?

They don’t think so.

I asked if the monthly debit has been corrected?

They don’t know.

Then they ask if there’s anything else they can help me with.

Ummmm…..you didn’t really help me with anything, now did you???

(Ultimately, I was instructed to make a one-time payment for the month of October, then wait a week and call back again to see if everything has been fixed. Yeah, won’t be holding my breath holding out hope for anything positive to come of this).

And as if Navient’s nonsense isn’t enough to make me rip out my hair – our house closing has been pushed back. After the inspection we’d negotiated for some additional repairs to be done and I guess it’s taking longer than expected. So our closing has been pushed from the 14th to the 28th, pending everything getting done in time. Bummer.

On my last Navient post a couple people commented and asked about private student loan consolidation companies. Just to reiterate – I’m not doing anything until the house deal is closed. But I’ve been researching and looking at SoFi. They’ve got good user reviews and seem to be a reputable company. But we have such a broad readership here, I’d love to ask for your opinions!

Have you ever done a student loan consolidation through a private company? What were your experiences like? Good, bad, ugly, etc??? Would you recommend your company? Why or why not? I’d love any info you can provide!

And, just for fun, do you have any fun Fall plans on the docket this month?? I wish we lived closer to an orchard! There’s one about 90 minutes away, but our weekends are pretty full. Maybe in November we could make it out there – I’d love to take the girls to pick apples and just enjoy the experience! Do you have any annual Fall traditions as a family?


Navient is Back At It Again

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Just the latest in my long, long history of grievances with Navient.

When I realized I’d missed that extra debt payment in September, I was carefully reviewing my account history and something jumped out at me that caught me off-guard:  I’m being over-charged roughly $500 per month.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t noticed the egregious error earlier. I blame it on my busy schedule, but really there’s no excuse to have not noticed such a HUGE discrepancy.

Here’s the short of it (I’m trying to run out the door for work, so sorry this is a little rushed)….

My minimum payment is about $130/month. When I re-did my paperwork for Income-Based-Repayment over the summer I was notified it would go up a little bit (like $20 or $40….I can’t remember now, but not much). Only, that’s not what happened. For the past two months (August & September), my auto-debit withdrawal has been over $650. I  always make extra debt payments on top of the minimum and pay – in total – over $1,000 each month. So it didn’t make a big difference in terms of actual money spent because I always put well extra into Navient anyway. But what it did is take my money and mis-appropriate how it was spent. Instead of putting all the extra (over and above my true minimum of about $150-ish) toward the unsubsidized loans, it was being equally distributed across all loans. That’s not at all how I would appropriate it myself.

So I called up there to ask what the deal was. And I was told that apparently there was some issue. The system “shows” that my payment should only be the $150-ish payment, but the auto-debits are actually around $650ish (yes, I know. That’s why I called). It was a total error on their part. They would put in paperwork to get it fixed. It probably won’t be fixed by the October debit, but then it will go back to normal in November.

The representative was all happy with herself for putting in whatever notes to bring it to their internal auditor’s attention. Happy that she had resolved the problem.

 

Ummmm……lady. You get this means you’ve been overcharging me to the tune of $500-ish per month for what will now be 3 months. That’s an extra $1500 you have basically stolen from me. Illegally. You think that’s just going to fly??? (yes, I would have given them that extra money anyway with my extra payments but, again, I would appropriate it completely differently than they have done; also, with the way they’ve done it, a great deal of that money has gone straight to interest instead of toward principal reduction).

The best I could get out of the representative was a promise that after the situation has been resolved, I can call back and they will allow me to re-allocate those extra funds toward the loans of my choice. Doesn’t really make me feel to warm and fuzzy inside. I also have about zero hope that this actually gets resolved as promised. I mean, Navient has quite a long history of lying to me. Repeatedly. All the time.

So there’s that.

Today, though, I’m going to choose to focus on the positives. I’m thankful that we have that extra money. that the extra $500 Navient is literally stealing from me does not force us to go without food, housing, or utilities. That we have the money to spare.

I’m going to try to let it go. I’ll call back toward the end of the month as they’ve requested and see if it makes a difference at that time. In the meantime, I just have to let go of the anger and the frustration. I don’t have any space or time for that negativity in my life.

But you better believe…..as SOON as the house stuff is done (currently set to close on Oct 14th! EEEK!!!), I’m consolidating with a private company as fast as humanly possible. I’m SO STINKING SICK of Navient and their absolute incompetence (at best) and downright illegal activities (at worst). Sick of it. Also, my last ACS loan has notified me that it’s going to be migrated to Navient, too. Fabulous. Last time that happened my loan “switched” from being subsidized to being unsubsidized. An issue that I spent months dealing with and countless hours (and even wrote my legislatures and involved a 3rd party group for problem resolution) and, ultimately, nothing happened. They just f-ed me. And they got away with it. So I’m pretty excited to rid Navient from my life once and for all. As SOON as the closing is behind us, I’m done with them.

Have you ever experienced serious over-charging by a student loan company? Trying to focus on the positives, what’s something good that’s happened recently or something fun you’re looking forward to this week? To share one of mine, we had an awesome weekend! Saturday was packed full of fun stuff – two different kids’ birthday parties. Sunday was full of relaxation. A nice mix of fun/activities and family time/relaxation. The perfect weekend balance!


Increasing Minimum Payments

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My student loans are on income-based repayment (just entering my 3rd year; the final year where my subsidized loans are still eligible for interest forgiveness).

One of the stipulations of IBR is that I have to re-apply every year. The re-application deadline for me falls in August. Its probably not surprising that, due to my increased income, my minimum payments are going up.

At first when I saw the email which notified me of the increasing minimum payments, I was bummed. “Dang it, that sucks” I thought.

But then it hit me – I’m paying like 10x the minimum payments right now (this is definitely hyperbole, but I still pay WAY over my minimums). So the tiny increase in minimum payments (I think it increased about $40/month) does not even come close to affecting me. After the realization, I laughed a little to myself.

Obviously no one likes when minimum payments increase. Thats what sucks so bad about adjustable rate mortgages! But at this stage in our debt payoff game, we’re focusing on the student loan payments. If we were still paying minimums on them in order to put more money toward a different loan, then this change might affect us. But given the massive sized student loan payments that we make, it literally doesn’t make an iota of difference to me if the payments increased $5 or $50. Who cares?! I pay way over the minimum anyway. I’m ready for them to be GONE!!!

Also, as just a random tidbit, when we first met with our mortgage broker with all our documents, he made a comment along the lines of “wow, I’ve never seen anyone with this much student loan debt!” I kind of chuckled (ummm…have you never done a mortgage for a doctor before??).  But not just because I was genuinely surprised by his inexperience with large student loan debts….I also chuckled because had I visited him 2 years ago, we would have been carting around an additional $50,000+ of miscellaneous debts, too! We’re in much better shape now than we were then! But, yes. I have a disgusting amount of student loan debt. Can’t wait to kick it all to the curb!!!

Just for fun – what are your minimum payments on your student loan debt? My Navient loan minimum payments are about $600/month. A ton of money, for sure. But when I’m paying thousands per month on the loans, a $40 increase doesn’t make a big difference.

 


Hope – Debt Update – April, 2016

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Yikes!  Ya’ll are right, I have not done a debt update in quite a while.  So I’ll make this short and sweet. The last update I found when I looked was this one from  August, 2015 Debt Update which was a couple of months before my whole world/plan blew up with the loss of my largest on-going client.

Here are my new debt numbers:

Debt NameCurrent BalanceInterest RateMin. Mo. PymtOriginal BalanceStatus
TOTALS$????$433?$97,934
Student Loan$33,3452.875%$99$31,687IBRP effective Aug, 2015
Yukon$9820% (6 months)$104$3568Ex pays $246 mo. towards this debt
Orthodontist$????0%$230?$10,800Working on plan April, 2016
Begins Sept, 2015
Checking Account$00%--$741Paid Off - Jan 2015!
CC Intro Rate - Retail #2$03.99%--$3500Paid Off - May, 2015
Personal Loan - Car$012%--$5000Paid Off - July, 2015
Credit Card - Consumer$013.90%--$4,974Paid Off - June, 2015
Credit Card - Retail$025.99%--$2,265Refinanced - Dec, 2015
Car Loan - Accord$00%--$1,900Paid Off - Dec, 2015
Car Loan - NV$06.79%--$31,138Sold - Dec, 2015
Line of Credit$015.95%--$1,248Paid Off
Credit Card - Retail #1$00%--$413Paid Off
Property Tax$00%--$700Paid Off

Just a couple of notes:

Student Loans – Needless to say, the income based repayment plan, while I am SO grateful for it, does not even cover the interest, thus the increase balance since last fall.  So this definitely needs to be on my radar as I get back on my feet.

Ex Husband’s Car Loan – You can see from the balance that both of us have been making payments on this one.  He is super motivated to get it paid off so he can get the title and do whatever.  I am super motivated to get it off my shoulders.  Hoping this one will be gone in the next month or so.  It’s still my number one goal.

Orthodontics – I have just finished negotiating with them after months of trying.  And we have reached an agreement.   So I will update the total now owed with the next update since I’m still waiting on the documentation, etc.

If you have been following the last couple of weeks, you will remember my choice to delay paying my last month’s rent in my apartment to cover the needed expenses for the month we moved.  I have not included that rent payment in my debt because it will be paid in full within the week.

So that is where I stand right now…