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Posts tagged with: Income Based Repayment

Increasing Minimum Payments


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.


Latest Student Loan Update


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.


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!!! : )

Oh Happy Day!


It’s such a happy day for me today, friends!

After many months of slowly chipping away at larger debts (last one paid off was in April 2015, but whose counting?) am able to finally announce that I’ve paid one (albeit small one) off in full!

TODAY, I am cleared of Navient loan 1-06.

The first time I ever broke apart my Navient loans for you was back in March 2015. At that time, loan 1-06 was sitting at $860.80.  For months now (really the whole time I’ve been blogging), I’ve only been paying minimums to this account which has only paid the interest (no reduction in principal). I paid a little extra on my unsubsidized federal student loan (which is not even listed in my Pandora’s Box spreadsheet – that spreadsheet only accounts for my Department of Education loans).

But then I’ve been having some SERIOUS drama with Navient. (mini-update:  there is no update. I was contacted by the mediation specialist who gathered some information and said it would likely be a full month before I hear back again. My loan that was transferred from ACS is still incorrectly classified as an unsubsidized loan and continues to accumulate interest when, due to my IBR status, the interest should be forgiven).

ANYWHO…..all the drama and frustration with Navient just makes me want them out of my life that much sooner! So I decided to also start chipping away at loan 1-06, as its my smallest loan (even though it is also a subsidized loan; I felt the small balance made it a good candidate to knock out quickly). So over the past few months I’ve put an extra $100 here and there toward it. Nothing huge. But then this month I logged into my account and saw the balance due was less than $500. And I just decided – I need this. Let’s go for it!

I talked to hubs (this required re-allocating some of our money a little bit differently than what we’d originally planned), and he was on board so I made the call and paid off the loan in full.

Logging in today I am THRILLED to see that big “No Payment Due” next to loan 1-06.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 7.07.25 AM

I cannot wait until they all read that way!

Just as a reminder, I’m seriously on a mission now to pay off our car. It’s our last remaining consumer debt and my goal had been to have it paid in full by December. In this previous post I admitted defeat on that goal and settled for having it paid as early in 2016 as possible. Well, friends, I take that back again. It’s going to be tough. TOUGH! And we’re planning to travel in December, which makes it twice as tough (since hubs isn’t salaried he only gets paid when he works, plus we’ll be incurring travel costs, etc.). But I’m on a mission. It’s like back when I first started blogging and I was hell-bent on paying off my credit cards. I managed to pay off over $10,000 in credit card debt in three months! I still can’t believe that was me! It’s not like we were rolling in dough and had nothing better to do with it. That came about from a lot of hard work, careful budgeting, sacrifice, extra hours, etc. etc. etc. I’m on the same mission now. We have about $10,000 left on the car. 3 months worth of debt payments between now and the end of the year. Is it likely? Probably not. Is it possible? Maybe. Just maybe. I plan to give it a hell of a shot. I’ll let you know. ; )

What an (EXPENSIVE) headache!


Argh! ((shakes fist at Navient))

I hate beating a dead horse, but here we go…..

Navient just sucks so bad. SOooooo soooo bad!

The latest way they’re trying to screw me over…

I recently mentioned that one of my ACS loans has now migrated to Navient. Only, somehow, in the migration it has switched from being categorized as a subsidized loan to an UNSUBSIDIZED loan. This is a big deal because I’m on income-based repayment and, under IBR, unpaid interest is forgiven on subsidized loans. But unsubsidized loans continue to accrue interest. Right now my minimum loan payments are really low – they don’t even cover the interest! So I’ve been strategically targeting only a couple of my loans and paying minimums on all the rest, with the knowledge that unpaid interest is forgiven and I will just live with paying interest (no reduction to principal balance) until my current target loans are paid in full and I move onto the next loan.

Well, after discovering Navient’s egregious error I gave them a call. Only, they say that their paperwork states that the loan has ALWAYS been unsubsidized. I explain that there’s no way! I carefully track my loans every month and you can clearly see that they HAVE to be subsidized because the balance has always stayed EXACTLY (to the penny) the same! That’s because I’m not even paying enough to cover interest and all unpaid interest is forgiven. Period.

They acknowledge that, yes, they can see how unpaid interest has been forgiven. But their paperwork says the loan is supposed to be unsubsidized. Their hands are tied and there’s nothing they can do. I will need to get the original master promissory note to show that the loan is subsidized. In the meantime, my loan has somehow accumulated OVER THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS in interest!? In only a few days!!!!

Well, of course, getting access to the master promissory note includes several more hoop-jumping exercises not even worth going into here. Just note that it’s been a frustrating experience and I still have not even managed to get ahold of it (though I should hopefully have it this week!)

So let this be yet another in my long string of warnings about the potential pit-falls of student loan debt. And another cautionary tale of why you should be very vigilant about careful monitoring of your student loan account(s) on a monthly basis to make sure you catch these types of errors when they happen to you (notice I said WHEN, not if!)

In the meantime, why not add another task to my mile-long To Do list. I just love it when someone else’s incompetence creates more work for ME to do (can you just hear my sarcasm?)

Hope your Mondays are off to a better start!

Lackluster June 2015 Debt Update


So remember how we had a no-income month of May with hubs’ business?

That really hurt us in terms of our ability to make big debt payments. I even said at the beginning of the month that we were going to cut out some of the debt payments all together (like the car payment and balance transfer loan, which don’t have minimum payments currently due), and pay minimums on everything else.

Well, its one thing to say something and another to actually do it.

And although we really didn’t have the funds to do so (I had to tap into EF funds), I made some payments toward all of our debts for my own psychological satisfaction. That being said, it’s not like I was able to do an awesome job on debt payments this month. In fact, I believe this is our lowest debt payment since I started blogging here (back in March 2014).

And there’s one thing thats certain in regard to debt eradication. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward. There is no “stationary” option available.

So, unfortunately, I also have to tell you that our debt actually increased this month (not due to new debts, but due to accruing interest on the existing debt).

However, the additional debt has been totally puzzling to me. It’s all from my student loans and, although I have a lot of student loan debt, every single month my debt has been going down. This month I actually made a larger student loan debt payment than normal and my debt somehow went up.

I called Navient to ask about what happened.

How is it that every single month I pay (X) and my debt decreases. This month I paid (X+$67) and my debt somehow increased? It doesn’t make sense that I paid more and somehow my overall balance has gone up?

The person I spoke with had no idea. She took down some information, said she’d file a report, and someone would get back to me. That was two weeks ago and still no news.

I called back another time to try to figure it out.

This time, I was told that even though I’m on income based repayment where unpaid interest is forgiven on my subsidized loans, apparently the unpaid interest is only forgiven on a quarterly basis? Meaning, the interest continues to accrue and is only forgiven once every three months.

This makes no sense to me. Navient is a little bit trickier, but it’s clear as day from looking at all my debt updates (you can go through the archives for yourself), that my ACS loans (which are all subsidized) have had the same balance – to the penny – ever since I applied for income-based-repayment (last August). But my minimum payment doesn’t even cover the interest, so it’s clear that the unpaid interest has been forgiven every month, not just once a quarter. Otherwise, my balance would have continued to rise every month as I make my minimum payments.

My IBR status hasn’t lapsed, supposedly this policy isn’t new (in regard to only forgiving interest once per quarter), and there’s absolutely no logical reason I can think of that explains it.

But with BOTH of my student loan carriers this month (Navient and ACS), my balances have gone up.

Can anyone explain this to me? Pretty please with a cherry on top?

It’s absolutely maddening! It’s such a helpless feeling to know I owe this money, but to feel like somehow I’m getting screwed over – only no one believes me and no one seems to think anything is amiss.

To sum up…

  • I’ve made the same payment every.single.month. My balance has always decreased.
  • This month I made the same payment PLUS an extra $67 payment.  And somehow my balance increased.

Part of me still thinks maybe this is a new policy (only forgiving interest quarterly) and the representative I spoke with simply didn’t know or realize it. Otherwise, how do you explain that BOTH of my loan service providers had the same issue in the same month?

It really makes me want to knock out my car loan debt ASAP so I can start to kill these student loans. They absolutely need to die.

Now that I’ve gone on my rampage, let me show you the actual debt numbers.

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
Navient - Federal Student Loan$39088.25%$116June$4687
ACS Student Loans$214117.24%$77May$21035
Navient - Dept of Education student loans$666676.55%$307June$63254
PenFed Car Loan$146422.49%$100June$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$53370% (through April 2016)$100June$5937
Medical Bills$60860%$25June$9000
Totals$118,051 (Last month = 117,815)$725Starting Debt = $145,472

I can’t beat myself up about it too much. Next month will be better. Onward.

Seriously though – anyone else on IBR have this issue where unpaid interest was not forgiven this month? Is it a new policy to only forgive interest once per quarter? Why have I never experienced this before?



That was my immediate thought when I opened my email inbox to discover THIS message waiting for me inside.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 7.17.53 AM

So there’s that. ACS (with whom I’ve never ever had a single issue) has sold my loans to Navient (with whom I’ve had multiple and ongoing issues). So that’s good.

I’ve got a couple months until the transition is complete, but I’m really contemplating what to do regarding my loans.

I’m still set on my current plan: focusing predominantly on my car loan, while also paying aggressively on my balance-transfer student loan. But, ugh! My passionate hatred for my student loan company makes me wish I could just write a check, pay them all off, and never deal with them again.

My Income Based Repayment (IBR) renewal is on the horizon as well, and once I submit our 2014 tax information I’m anticipating that my monthly payments will be going up a bit. I’m really not sure by how much (side note: one good thing is that they take into consideration income AND expenses…although our income went up in 2014 compared to 2013, so did our childcare expenses. We were paying $600/month when I initially applied for IBR, but we currently pay nearly double that, so hopefully that will help offset the increased income a bit in determining our monthly payment obligations).

Random question (I’m sure I could call and ask but thought I’d throw it out here)… for anyone else who has done IBR payments, when you renew does your payment immediately change or does it not change until the end of the year? I ask because I don’t have to renew until August, but I’m getting emails to renew now. Just wondered if I went ahead and renewed now if my payment would immediately change or if the change wouldn’t go into effect until August.

Ashley’s August Debt Update


It’s been awhile since my last debt update! (See previous from 1.5 months ago here)

Updating all the numbers really makes me feel at peace with my decision to switch my student loans from deferment into income based repayment (IBR). We’ve been putting so much money toward debt, and yet the overall figure of money owed has barely dented because the student loan balances have been continuing to rise (since they continue accumulating interest). My ACS loan IBR went into effect in July, but August will be the first month of IBR for my Sallie Mae loans. So hopefully this will put an end to the climbing balances since unpaid interest will be forgiven (on the subsidized loans).

With that said, let’s look at my big debt picture. Note that the balances reflect the amount owed at the end of July/beginning of August (after July payments had been made, before any August payments have been made).

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRMinimum DueJuly Payment Made 
Capital One CC$017.9%--
Mattress Firm$00%--
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%--
BoA CC$07.24%--
License Fees$40152.7%551069
PenFed Car Loan$223772.49%411411
Sallie Mae - Federal Student Loans$44598.25%6262
Sallie Mae - Dept of Ed$56668.5%00
ACS Student Loans$211647.24%246247
Sallie Mae - Dept of Ed$661147%00
Medical Bills$69310%150150

*Note: The “July payment made” in the license fee category only reflects the regular snowball payment for July. An additional $500 was put toward license fees from June’s surplus funds that are not included in the monthly payment figure.

I asked for your feedback regarding focusing my snowball toward my car loan (what I’m calling my “race to 20K“) or my higher-interest Sallie Mae student loans. Although there were advocates of each, I think most people were advocates of focusing on the student loan debt first. However, ALL said that whatever I decide to focus on (either the car or the student loans), that I should not split my causes (and try to pay money toward each). Everyone was pretty much in agreement that I should pay minimums of whatever is the non-focus and put all extra money toward the one current priority.

I think I still prefer to pay the car off first (and be free of consumer debt forever!!!!!!!). I mentioned that I have been making minimum payments toward 3 different medical entities for bills incurred during my husband’s mystery illness (from back in Nov-Dec 2013 timeframe). Two should be paid in full within about another 4-ish months and will free up $150 in payments. Instead of snowballing that toward the car, I may move that money toward the student loans. That way I’m not putting extra money toward the student loans, but its like I’m just moving my minimum payment from one entity to another. I’m not married to this idea, but its something I’ve been batting around.

But before I can turn my attention to the next debt down the list (either the car or the student loans), we first have to eradicate the license fees. Husband and I are having a budget meeting tonight to see where we’re at financially after such a painfully expensive month of July. I plan to have a budget update up by Monday.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Let me know what you think if you haven’t chimed in yet – focus on student loans or on the car? I keep going back-and-forth (obviously), but I’m still leaning toward tackling the car. I know its a higher amount and lower APR, but it just feels like something tangible that, once paid, we can say is OURS (as opposed to student loans….which I pay and feel like nothing has changed since I’ve got my degree either way). I think the psychological boost of crossing another debt off the list is nice, but I also think the car is a much more rewarding goal. Decisions, decisions…