Wow! If ever there was a cautionary tale for staying out of student loan debt, this is it!
First, former blogger Adam explained his issues with his loan service provider, Great Lakes.
Next, I talked about my ongoing issues with my service provider, Navient (formerly Sallie Mae).
Now I’ve got a new grievance to add to the list – directly with the central hub of government-backed student loans: studentloans.gov
For new readers, my student loans are currently on Income Based Repayment (IBR). I talked a little about the decision here.
Well for any old school borrowers, you’ll know that to access any documents through studentloans.gov (such as filing for IBR, or filling out the required annual paperwork to keep IBR), you used to need a PIN that was assigned by them. Apparently as of March 1st, they have done away with the PIN system. Instead, you now get to pick your own login ID and password.
Seems easy enough, right?
No. Just no.
I created my new ID and password and verified the information by answering security questions about myself. According to FSAid.ed.gov everything is good. Now I can go back to studentloans.gov to actually fill out my IBR paperwork. Right?
Studentloans.gov keeps saying my account is currently locked. I go back to FSAid.ed.gov and unlock my account (by going through the same steps of verifying my account information by answering security questions, etc.) and go back to studentloans.gov. Account Locked.
I literally do this back-and-forth for about 45 minutes, thinking surely I’m making a mistake somehow.
It’s past business hours at this point, so I send an email to the help department explaining the problem. The next day I get a reply saying:
“You can no longer use your PIN, you have to create a new FSA ID and password.”
Yes, geniuses. I know this. I did this. Your site won’t let me in! GRRRR!!!!
I let it go for a few days but came back to it today. Same endless loop of verifying my information on the FSA ID website, only to go to the studentloans.gov website and be told my account is locked.
I call the FSA ID number.
It rings. And rings. And rings. Then *click*
I try again. And again. And again. Five times in total. Every time ends with being disconnected before even speaking with a human being.
So then I call the number listed on the studentloans.gov website. They actually answer but basically say there’s nothing they can do, that they only help with issues once you’re already logged in. For login issues, I have to call the FSA ID people. And I’m given the same number I’d already tried. I explained that no one answers. I’ve called several times and keep being disconnected.
And I kind of get a “tough shit” reply. There’s nothing they can do. The woman assumes that their system is overwhelmed by call volume and simply disconnects after a period of time. Keep trying, she says.
SOOOOOOOO, I have no option but to keep trying. THANK GOODNESS I didn’t put this off until last minute (my IBR doesn’t actually expire until August). If I’d waited until last minute and was unable to log in and get my IBR paperwork submitted, then when my current IBR expires my minimum payments would skyrocket – nearly a thousand a month (instead of the $350ish current minimum).
So for anyone else in the same boat that will need to reapply for IBR or anything else related to student loans (deferment, forbearance, etc.), BE SURE TO START EARLY!
But if you have the option….just avoid student loans all together.
Work for free as an intern somewhere in exchange for paid college tuition. Work nights and weekends as a waiter to cover your tuition. Go to community college so its more affordable for the first couple years. Stay in-state so you don’t have to pay out-of-state tuition. Get a job on campus in exchange for reduced tuition. WHATEVER IT TAKES – STAY AWAY FROM STUDENT LOANS!!!!!!!!!!!!
There’s your little public service announcement and another student loan cautionary tale.
Have a great day! ; )
Any student loan cautionary tales of your own? Leave me a comment!