Sallie Mae Student Loans – The Heart of the Crisis

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While members of both political parties are patting themselves on the back after lowering the student loan rates, they still haven’t addressed the heart of the problem. The largest provider of those loans, Sallie Mae, still has extremely close ties to the federal government and absolutely no interest in helping students keep their loans on track and out of default.

This isn’t a problem that just appeared in the last four years. It’s been 35 years since the Federal government first started interfering with the student loan programs and bankruptcy laws that now has students and their families crushed under a loan debt that topped $1.2 Trillion this year. That is now larger than even the credit debt of the U.S. and is squarely on the shoulders of the people we depend on to expand the economy.

When Student Loan Borrowers Lost Their Rights

backruptcy actIn 1978, the Bankruptcy Reform Act was passed to prevent students from filing bankruptcy for five years after graduation. The law was passed after a handful of doctors and lawyers fraudulently filed to avoid repayment of their student loans. Instead of applying the existing bankruptcy laws to a handful of people trying to scam the student loan system (less than one percent of all loan holders), the Bankruptcy Reform Act took a hammer to them and set a precedent that eventually turned student loans into a protected financial product; protected for the benefit of Sallie Mae. In 1990, this non-discharge period was extended to seven years.

For those of you who don’t know the origin of it, the Student Loan Marketing Association (Sallie Mae) was created in 1972. It began as a Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) designed to manage the federal loan programs created by the Higher Education Act of 1965. It continued in this function until 1997, when then CEO, Albert Lord led the charge to privatize all operations. This was completed in 2004 and all official ties to the U.S. government were supposedly severed.

Post Privatization of Sallie Mae & Further Loss of Rights for Borrowers

Right after privatization began Congress passed, and President Clinton signed into law in 1998, legislation that completely eliminated the ability to discharge Sallie Mae student loan debt in bankruptcy proceedings. This makes student loans the only type of loan that has this restriction. Student debt holders now are in the same situation as people who commit murder and are then sued by the family of their victims.

Then, in 2005, further amendments to the Bankruptcy Code provided this same protection to private student loan providers. The same legislation also removed five consumer protection regulations for student loan holders. These protections were:

  1. Adherence to State Usury Laws
  2. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
  3. Right to Refinance
  4. Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection
  5. The Truth in Lending Act

Thanks to these changes, the harshest debt collection methods can be used on people who miss just a few payments. These same methods were previously reserved for ex-spouses who try to dodge child support payments and people found guilty in civil court such as O.J. Simpson. They include garnishing wages without a court order, garnishing social security and disability income, suspension of state professional licenses to include practicing medicine and withholding IRS Tax Refunds.

60 Minutes Investigates Sallie Mae

salle mae investigation

In a very short time, the negative attention Sallie Mae earned its self went public. In 2006, the now supposedly private organization came under the scrutiny of no less than “60 minutes”. Leslie Stahl made a main point of her piece that despite being separated from the government for only two years, then company chairman Albert Lord had already been so well compensated that he was constructing his own private golf course.

Sallie Mae’s response did not help their case or serve to convince anyone of their good intentions. First, they refused to be recorded in an interview and only provided answers on paper. Prior to the story being aired, Sallie Mae also sent out a memo to colleges nationwide with the answers they provided as well as their opinion on the story itself.

“With nine million borrowers, it is disappointing that ’60 Minutes’ chose to spotlight three of our former customers who have not repaid their taxpayer funded loans. It certainly does not reflect the experiences of the vast majority of our customers, who have had the opportunity to attend your schools and fulfill their dreams of obtaining a college education,” said the letter from Sallie Mae to its clients.

Sallie Mae’s statement added that, “60 Minutes appear to accept without question that the government can administer and manager the student loan program more efficiently and less expensively than private lenders. This is not the case and, in fact, we believe that the competition and choice that schools have enjoyed … have expanded and improved college access and fueled vast improvements in the delivery of student loans.”

Now you’re thinking “OK, this all happened under George Bush or the Presidents before him, right? The student loan program was streamlined earlier this year and the loan rates are back where they belong.” That is true, but the only item that helps students is the lower rates.

Obamas Attempt to Help Backfiring

obamaStudents and their families still do not have the consumer protections returned to them taken away in 2005. What President Obama’s streamlining did reduce interest rates that had risen on federal student loans, and implemented the pay as you go plan. Sallie Mae still has zero risk on a defaulted federal loan as its backed by the government. Sallie Mae is going to turn a higher profit when student loans go into default and fees begin to accrue.

When a student defaults on his or her loan, Sallie Mae loses nothing. The federal government fully guarantees the complete loan amount. It even pays the interest that would have been paid to Sallie Mae over the lifetime of the loan.

Sallie Mae Interest In Collections Agencies & Defaulted Loans

Next, the government sends the loan to a collection agency. In the late 90s, just after Sallie Mae started severing its government ties, the company also began buying up collection agencies. It now owns two of the U.S.’s largest collection agencies, General Revenue Corporation (GRC) and USA Funds. These agencies and others are allowed to add a 25 percent collection fee to the loans they recover as well as receive a commission of up to 28 percent of the loan. It is the student loan holder who has to pay the fee and commission.

In case you haven’t been counting, that means Sallie Mae only gets paid once for every loan that stays in good standing. They get paid three times on every loan in default. It is impossible for Sallie Mae to lose money on any loan, no matter how small. The only losers in this situation are the students who are unable to keep their original, scheduled payments and the taxpayers who have to provide more every year to Sallie Mae because the government still guarantees every loan just as when Sallie Mae was a GSE.

Universities Interest In The Swindle

The nation’s universities and colleges are also in on the act. Since defaulted loans result in no penalties to anyone except the students and co-signers; the government, Sallie Mae and their collection agencies have no interest to actually lower the cost of tuition. In fact, lower tuition will cut into their profits when it comes to interest, collection fees and commission rates. Higher tuition means higher pay for professors, bigger buildings and course curriculums that “lead to nowhere”. How else could college tuition rise at twice the rate of inflation and four times the rate of wages over the last twenty years?

Defaults are at an all time high so the money is flowing. The last studies showed that one in four students who had attended four year universities were defaulting on their loans. For students attending two year programs, the rate of default is 40 percent; almost half.

It’s these numbers that are beginning to frighten a lot of people. When the sub-prime mortgage rate crisis turned into a housing collapse, defaulted loans were at these numbers. However, it’s not the banks handling the loans now. It’s Sallie Mae and the government is not going to bailout what is, for them, a no loss situation.

Time for Change

Since Sallie Mae is the largest lender of student loans in the U.S., they certainly bear the largest share of responsibility in fixing this situation. With the current bankruptcy laws benefiting them and the government underwriting their bottom-line, they have no need to do so. No matter what their customers do, Sallie Mae WILL turn a profit. The only way to end this is for you to have your Representatives and Senators stop financing Sallie Mae’s operations, put back the basic consumer protections into student loans that everyone enjoys for every other type of loan and to stop treating citizens who are having trouble meeting their responsibilities like criminals.

Comments

  1. Sue says

    I love this article! It has opened up my eyes to Sallie Mae and explains a lot! I have been going round and round with SM for some time now trying to keep my son out of default now I understand why they don’t really want to work with us BECAUSE THEY WILL GET THEIR MONEY ANYWAY! It’s so sad that things are this way in a country you can’t pay your bills and with the way the economy is going (part time jobs thanks OBAMA CARE), how do they expect people to pay. I think they don’t really want you too!

    Thanks for the story it has helped so much!

      • Cathy says

        Here is a question for you. I paid on my student loans for over many years; however in 2008 i went through a divorce. My husband walked out and walked out on paying any of our debt, after about 1 year of staying afloat, I filed chapter 13; however, one of my requests was to no include my student loans – my attorney had indicated I did not have a choice. I asked my attorney if these loans would be charged any interest, he indicated no. 2-1/2 years later, I paid my chapter 13 in full and received my student loan payment back but this time I was charged another $17000 in interest and my payment went from $244 per month to $715 per month. Seriously, SALLIE MAE and my Attorney ****** me. I have been paying the $715 for two years and my loan balance which started at $32,000 when I graduated is not principal balance of $75,000 – so for 2 years making $715 per month payment which is $17,168 in payments, my principal loan balance is now at $72,000 per year. SERIOUSLY, this country likes to screw their own people and as far as Obama helping anyone , he helps himself and those that can’t take care of themselves… I have tried everything. I can’t consolidate to lower the interest rate, I can’t get loan forgiveness because of the type of loans I have, I don’t have enough equity in my home to get a loan to lower the interest rate, and I have absolutely no desire to go back to school so the government can screw me more… so, if I continue to pay this amount which is crazy until the end of the term which keep in mind is only 15 years I will have paid back for $32,000 student loan a total of $120,000 dollars. SERIOUSLY, any suggestions – those where I won’t get further screwed?

        • Brook Priest says

          You can get on an Income-Based repayment plan based on family size & income. After you pay it for 25 yrs, any remaining balance is forgiven.

          • Lucy Day says

            I just found out due to my disability my student loans are discharged. Now I have to pay taxes and not sure where to go because I cant afford an accountant and cant reach the IRS. I just traded one nightmare for another. I have never been able to pay the loans back and have been in forbearance for years before filing the discharge. All I get is Disability under 1,000 a month and there is no extra money to pay this tax. I am scared of losing my home which is under not only my name but my parents and my daughter and I live here and its our only home. What can I do if I cant afford accountants and cant get the IRS to answer their lines? Oh my daughter is also on Disability so she cant help me pay this off?
            Thank you

  2. Robyn Traywick says

    Over the last 6 months I have repeatedly gone round with Sallie Mae over my loans. They routinely apply the monies I send in to my federal loan and do not apply it to my private loans. So my federal loan is paid months in advance, meanwhile my private loans are overdue. I call and ask for it to be applied correctly. I have changed the routining number the payment address etc as per Sallie Mae instructions. This month even thought I have paid more than the amount due for all my loans, my private loans have still not been paid and are listed as overdue.I called Sallie Mae and asked to have the funds applied correctly, and was told it was taken care of. Then I started getting collection calls from a place in Indiana. These callers will not give me their names, employee ID numbers or transfer me to a supervisor without me giving them my DOB and SSN, even though they are the ones calling me. I have called back to the main Sallie Mae number and asked for the collections call to cease. They told me it would take 10-14 days for the funds to be reallotted and for my accounts to be corrected, and that they had changed it so I would not get the calls. 24 hours later the calls started again. Again I have called back and asked for the calls to stop. I am so fed up with this company.

    • Michelle says

      In response to Robyn Traywick’s comment, I recently had a similar issue with Sallie Mae but was able to resolve it.

      I recommend you call The Office of the Customer Advocate, this is the executive customer service department at sallie mae, at (888) 545-4199 or send an e-mail advocate@salliemae.com. You’ll deal with one point of contact who will provide his/her full name and direct telephone number.

      Good luck to you!!!

    • Kristen Hicks says

      I’m probably way too late to the game for you to see this, but they did the exact same thing with me for the first 9 months I was paying off my loans.

      The way I finally got them to correct the issue was filing a complaint with the BBB. Give it a try?

    • Anon says

      Have Sallie Mae put your loans in different billing groups. You will have multiple payments each month but they should be applied correctly. If you pay on your private loans billing group it should only apply to the private loans and the same for the federal loans.

  3. C. Smith says

    There are several stories circulating about the public service forgiveness program and how so many in the US are not taking advantage of it. The catch that seems to escape the articles is that without 120 qualifying (read standard payments) payments borrowers do not qualify for the program. The catch: If you make standard payments then there is nothing left to forgive so why would you even bother with the paperwork. The program is set up to look good on paper until you actually look at the details.

    My husband and I both work in public service positions but make just enough to NEVER qualify for any of the programs which would help us become financially stable and able to finally save towards a house and retirement. It is frustrating to see people who scam the system receive help time and again but others who worked their way through under-grad and graduate school, pay their bills on time and have middle income jobs always get stuck with little discretionary income at the end of the month to save for down payments or anything else. It will be another 20 years before our student loans are paid off (all federal) and we have already been paying for 10 years, where is the relief for the average, responsible citizen?

    • says

      Its not only standard payments that qualify, but also income based, income contingent, and pay as you earn. The catch with the standard payments is that its only if you are in the Standard 10 year repayment which would be paid off regardless at the end of ten years. The only benefit there would be if for some of those years you lose your job, you could move over into an IBR payment and continue working to the 120 months even if you aren’t making a payments anymore.

  4. Becca says

    My husband and i have not been able to have children by choice. This is because we already have one, and her name is Sallie Mae. We fork out $700 a month of interest only payments, of which our income is only about 2200 a month. We are not able to save, invest, buy a new vehicle, or even prepare ourselves for a family. He has been paying his sallie mae since 2007. The original loan amount was about 38,000.00, but with a deferrment interest rate for a year, fees, etc, the loan is now at 69,000.00. We are looking at never paying this off, with the current income we have, nor does it look like our income may ever increase much. I have exhausted almost every avenue of options, only to find that there really is no option for private student loan borrowers. We have luckily never defaulted, and we choose only to keep paying because his gracious aunt and uncle are cosigners on the loan. It is not that we want to just discharge what we owe, we take full responsibility for what we borrowed, but the interest and fees seem to be unlawful and definitely ethically and economically terrible for this country. I want to see a forseeable end, but that just doesn’t seem possible making interest only payments. How is our government not addressing this issue? I have read articles and feeds on sallie mae, and people have talked depression and suicide! We have been addressing so many other issues in the government, i don’t understand why this is not being addressed or even put at the forefront of our media? This looks to me like history repeating itself in a terrible way… does anyone remember the housing market crash? Ignoring this issue sounds like insanity to me.

    • Gwen G. says

      I am in the same boat…. my heart is with you and your husband!! I’m going through the same thing… It’s terrifying when you reach this point to where you are bankrupted. And even if you claim bankruptcy, Sallie Mae will never go away. And Banks don’t want to lend you a loan to pay it off because your credit is so bad…. Another reason debt in this nation, greedy companies.

    • lmb says

      It is commendable that you are making the payments as promised.
      I have a similar situation, but can not say the same as far as keeping up on my payments. I admit, I have gotten frustrated at certain points and put my head in the sand. My original loan amount of $16k is now up to 30k.
      The last time I had paid the approx. $400 a month payment to get it back on track, I got to the end of a year only to realize I owed an additional $5k on top of my original loan amount and had not touched the principal. (anger led to head back in sand)
      I do accept responsibility for the debt, I borrowed the money, I have to pay it back. It just seems crazy that a “non-profit” government agency is able to shuffle a debt around and add such large fees and percentages.
      Now at Standard payments I will have it paid off in about 20 years if I can support my family and keep it together.

      Keep doing what you are doing, it only gets worse if you let it go!
      We would be better of borrowing from the mob, it would certainly be cheaper!

    • Nadine says

      IMB,
      I just read your 2013 post, but I want reply to your comment anyway. The very same thing is happening to me. right now. I cannot get SM to straighten out my payments…even after several phone calls. I keep getting the promise that everything will be corrected. Never happens. I too have paid the payments to put me back right, only to find out my loan has almost doubled now.

  5. Gwen G. says

    I CANNOT stand Saillie Mae!!! They told me when i first received my loans i could consolidate, that is the other reason i accepted. And I was able, to pay for a while. Then i got behind due to health issues and change of jobs…. And well to say the least SALLIE MAE WANTS ME TO PAY THEM TO DEFER MY LOANS…. HOW ABSURD IS THAT!?!?! If I am asking for a deferment due to health issues etc… where on gods green earth do they get the impression I can afford to pay them 150 a month. If anyone is going to pay for a deferment wouldn’t you think they would just pay the student loan???
    Makes no sense to me!!! I can argue with them until I’m hoarse… nothing ever changes. So i’m in default, as the entire ordeal create a very bad spiral effect. and my credit score is horrible…. I’ve been complaint and writing to the government… Sallie Mae is a seriously over monopolized company that NEEDS TO BE LOOKED INTO!!! It’s hurting the Americans they say they are trying to help… NO ONE should have to pay 4 different interest rates because the company doesnot want to help….
    Good bye dreams for a house, good bye dreams for getting out of this whole. Seriously there feels like there is no way out unless I win the lottery. :-( I always tell people NOT TO USE SALLIE MAE…

      • Becca says

        If her loans are private, IBR payments help in no way. Chances are, that’s what she has. My husband and I have 4 different interest rates we are paying and Sallie Mae refuses to consolidate (for private). If they are federal then they offer the Income Based Repayment… otherwise the rest of us are left to drown.

        • James says

          Ridiculous, I am in the same boat. $700 but will go up to about 800-900 in about 8 months as my pay as you earn will change. This is half of my salary.

    • lee says

      Gwen, i am in the same boat! i tried to defer the loan as well because of economic status. it was either put food on the table or pay Sallie Mae. They have no heart and just want their money. They told me the only way to defer the loan was to pay them money just like you said … i told them that made no sense…why would i hand them money to defer a loan? why not just put that money on my loan… so at this point im in default…. no way to pay it and not sure what to do. this is a nightmare and i wish the government would shut down this company. They are not willing to work with you.

  6. Gracie says

    My mother co-signed a loan through Sallie Mae for my brother who is now in prison. Could they garnish or could she lose her social security check to Sallie Mae for repayment?

    • Joy Blakeslee says

      I believe if they did garnish, they can only take up to 25% of what she gets from S.S. that is above $750.00. And they may not take the full 25%.

  7. James says

    I have nothing but issues with Sallie Mae. After switching banks and assuming I had made the change to auto-debit. Nowhere on the website did they state I had to cancel. They over-drafted $175 from my account and I have yet to be compensated for those funds. I have faxed in the proper forms and after being on the phone for 45 minutes yesterday trying to fix the situation, as it was my planning period as a teacher, I had to leave. For the most part Sallie Mae’s website is very user friendly but my rates with my federal loans are $700 a month. I live on my own. As a teacher making a whopping 34K. It is a struggle every month. Do not use Sallie Mae if you can avoid it, 10% loans are horrific.

  8. bethany says

    i don’t even know how much i owe. all i know is i set up a payment for one loan and it means nothing because i have 4 other loans with them. they call my phone 10 times, a day 7 days a week, as well as my fathers cell, my mothers cell, and my parents home phone because they cosigned. I will never be able to pay back my loans. its so depressing and stressful. all i can think is that i will never be able to have a family because sallie mae will be raping my bank account forever. i will never have a house or be able to go on vacation or work less then 3 jobs. i feel like this is my life forever. ugh we should make a “victoms of sallie mae support group”

    • lmb says

      Hey there, I know how you feel!
      Look at me as a glimpse into your future!
      It can and WILL get worse if you do not deal with it.
      I only wish I could turn back the clock.
      My loan amounts have literally DOUBLED in a matter of 2 1/2 years. You can only rehab your loan once.

      It’s hard, but take care of it now, communicate with them (I had them in my phone as “pain in the a**” because they literally called 4-6 times a day if I was late.
      When they stop calling, you are in trouble. They will win. :'(

      Sadly, rather than doing a vocational school (I wanted to be a nurse) I let a salesperson from AIU talk me into online school, so I am dealing with this for NOTHING. For a worthless “education” that gave me ZERO benefit in life and funds that were not dispersed entirely and not returned to the school.

      excuse me, I need to go put my head in the sand!

    • jspencer says

      i totally know how you feel i am going through the same thing. i am currenetly trying to work out a settlement with Sallie Mae. I have someone very special to me willing to let me borrow the money to pay off my federal student loans but Sallie Mae seems to not want to budge on the payoff amount. All i want is for them to do what is fair seeings how all of my monthly payments which i have paid on time every month for the last 4 years have gone to late fees and interest that i was unaware of untill recently. Sallie Mae is has taken over my life, to the point of cant eat, sleep or think. No more will i be there victim, i am going to get a handle on this somehow. I will let you know how it goes but dont give up you are not alone

    • Scott says

      Maybe you should first find out how much you owe. Then get on a written budget, on paper, on purpose at the being of each month. Look up Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps to get put of debt for assistance. It will not be easy but you can do it.

  9. Jessica says

    This is so frustrating. I pay 2000.00 per month in taxes. I would love goto be able to wooly some if that to my loans. Any ideas about a tax break for someone making large payments on their loans each month? I feel like I could pay 1300 or more each month if there was some type of leeway with the taxes for those in our situation.

  10. jim says

    i took a Sallie Mae student loan out about 6 years ago, while in school i became totally and permanently disabled, according to the Sallie Mae web site if this happens i can fill out there forms and not have to pay back the loan, the Stafford federal loan forgave my debt but Sallie Mae said this isn’t a federal loan so i still have to pay it back, so i filed bankruptcy, seeing i became disabled and didn’t have any money and the bankruptcy judge said i cant file on student loans…..ive tried seeking a lawyer and suing Sallie Mae for this but no one will touch it,,,guess in 10 years it will fall off my credit report and they cant garnish my social security disability but definatley isn’t fair that’s for sure

    • Les says

      Jim I have some sad news for you I got loans back in ’89 payed and paid, then they would stop taking payments and clam my loan had been sold to some one else. Next thing I knew it was in default . Still I paid the amount they wanted. In 2004 I became disabled, in 2006 I started drawing a social security disability check, so they garnished it. Ever since if I get a raise on my check, they raise the amount they hold out. I got in touch with them last year and wanted to know what they had did with all the money they had already took from me cause I knew it was more than I owed. They claimed it was all used for interest now the amount was doubled what it was to start with. I have decided the only way you get away from this debt is die!!!

    • Glenda Skinner says

      Send an Email to Obudsman in Washington DC. also look at your promissory note and see what kind of loan it is. I would also look into Loan forgiveness through the Department of Education and file as permanently disabled.

  11. Stephen says

    Leave the country! Stop letting them control your lives and leave the country! Force them to face the problem they have created, that is unmanageable debt! Go to Mexico or Canada! Go anywhere and leave it all behind.

      • connie says

        my plan is to avoid default as best i can. I am a social worker. i didnt worry about borrowing money because I knew (I thought) that as a social worker i would be appreciated for doing such a serviceable and needed job for the crap salary that I knew i would make. (worse than any teacher i assure you.) well i get my BA only to discover that the damn loan forgiveness program ONLY applies if you work children primarily in your job. Well i have no desire to work in HEAD START or Child protective services (because I would want to hurt someone lol and they suffer huge stress levels and burn out.) Im a veteran and I want to work with veterans. Right now I am a medical case manager for Ryan White or HIV patients.. this includes children. NOOO but that isnt good enough. according to my university and the wording of the law your job must be dealing solely with children. Plus I work for a nonprofit, cover 12 parishes (counties) in my OWN vehicle at my expense and only receive .45 a mile for my gas. Plus my agency gave every one their first raise since 98 in ohhhh 2011. F…..k sallie mae. my plan is to take this damn money with me when i die. my job doesnt pay me enough to buy a home or pay rent and a car note together. have to live in new car. lol so im fighting to keep this out of default. have no hopes of retiring. be nice to take them with me when i die also.

          • says

            My husband and I co sign for my daughter on two of her loans. Now we both are on disability. We cannot help our daughter. She has a large payment from sallie Mae and they keep raising the interest.No matter what she’s tells them they don’t want to help her at all. Now they wonder why she won’t talk to them. They also broke the privacy act that we signed when she took the loan 5yrs ago. They are calling people she knew from school in Washington and they are calling people in our family. We signed a privacy act for a reason. And they are breaking it. I would like to speak to someone for some legal advise.

          • says

            Jeanette, have you looked into the income based repayment program? If she cannot afford her payments than she may qualify for a payment much less than what they are asking her for. Also if she is in default, she may be eligible to consolidate into the direct loan program to get out of default and get collections to stop calling her. If you need help give us a call.

  12. cassandra says

    I have a salliemae private loan with an interest rate of 11.75 they charge me 300 in interest rates every month making it impossible to pay the loan down. my loan amount is 32,000 but will be 86,000 after the life of the loan. The only bank that consolidates private loans is Wells fargo and I have to have a co-signer which I can not find. I have been everywhere looking for another place to consolidate this private loan without having to have my school listed. Do you know any organization that may consolidate private loans?

    • Glenda Skinner says

      Get a lawyer. It will be less expensive in the long run. Especially if you can find others in the same situation whom Sallie Mae has extorted money from.

  13. says

    Sallie Mae and those who benefit from its unconscionable rewards from student defaults on loans should be ashamed for taking advantage of students who were relying on honest financial assistance during their young lives. In my opinion, consumer rights organizations, Congress and the Senate, should take Sallie Mae to task for their exploitation of young students who trusted them. It has taken a toll on students who made education a priority so they could better themselves and their families both financially and economically via purchasing power.

    Sallie Mae at one point was part of a Government entity to help provide students with funding for education. They then became a “for profit” organization and throughout the years have led in legislation to prevent students from filing for bankruptcy, having their wages, social security and pensions garnished, and treated like criminals. Sallie Mae officials need to ask for forgiveness because they are wrong and need to pay a penalty.

  14. TrulyScrewed says

    I called SallieMae and spoke with the supervisor and asked if SallieMae ever received a bailout and he immediately replied that he was ending the call. He then transferred me to a representative.

    I thought I worked my ass off at college so hopefully someday I could afford a house, a car, and a family. I can barely afford food! All my money goes to covering my student loan. Did I mention I finished school in 3 years with 2 degrees and borrowed as little as possible? I have been making interest-only and more than that amount when possible for the past 5 years and in those 5 years my loan principal has doubled to $80,000. Now I know why the site salliemaesuicide.com exists…

  15. Crystal says

    I took out a loan with US Department of Education for a $800 class. I paid them off in 2007 but, 2 years later, they started hasseling me for a $2000 and a $3000 loan! I called their bluff when they said they would take my tax refund, I had proof on my credit report that I did not owe them any money. But just today, I recieved a notice saying that my tax refund was siezed to cover this debt! I don’t get it!? How could this have happened? I am not a wealthy woman.. the money they took from me is peanuts to them, but to me… It’s heart-wrenching. What’s worse than losing this money was the fact that I didnt owe them this money in the first place. I need advice.. Can anyone tell me where to take the first step to correcting this mess?

  16. Jeremy B says

    I had open heart surgery in 12/2012, requiring 5 grafts or bypasses. Since I’ve missed week or several months in work every year due to acute chronic bronchitis, COPD. I also have Coronary Heart Disease and degenerative Spinal Disease. I went on a FMLA medical leave from work in 2012. My last day of work was 12/31/12 and I won’t ever be able to return to work, not even part time sitting at a desk for half a day. I have a parents loan through Student Assistance Corp, guaranteed by Sallie Mae and over the past couple of years, I’ve sent more emails and letters explaining my circumstances than I can count. They don’t do the written response…..leaves a paper trail. They want only phone calls. I have exhausted all the deferments and reduced payments that are available. I hadn’t planned on becoming disabled but now draw just over $1000/month and have no property or other income. I was just notified that the loan is going into default. Typically, Sallie Mae can garnish 15% of your income, take your state/fed tax refund, put leans against property and go to extremes to destroy your credit. I have been on Social Security Disability, finding myself applying for food stamps and Section 8 housing just because of my health, which the outcome will be death. After reading all the horror stories about how they deal and my history dealing with them over the past years makes me think there is but one escape…….one I wish not to consider but then again, I don’t know how much time I have left with my diseases. America has become Amerika and the freedoms and rights we once had are gone…..it’s wake up time folks! If anyone has a clue about this, my only income is the SSD for $1090/month….my rent alone is $632/mth. If they take anything, I’m on the street and that is the end……..

    • says

      Jeremy give us a call we can assist you. There are options available to you. Try to do some research on the Income Based Payment. If you want assistance, give us a call we can help you get into a zero payment, and apply for the loans to be discharged.

      • Dora says

        What if I am a single mother of a disabled child and can not afford my private loans now because of a divorce? What can I do to stop Sallie Mae? If they garnish my wages I will be out on the streets with not only my disabled kid but his sister as well. Help??

        • says

          Dora there is not too much you can do to stop a wage garnishment. The one thing that you should know is that they must abide by certain laws in regards to how much they can garnish. I suggest you take a look at this page and read the calculations section this way you know if they are holding the correct amount or too much. Also, if your circumstances are real you can apply for a hearing which takes place over the phone to have the garnishment lifted. You would need to prove that the garnishment puts an undue hardship on you and your family. You can find the form here, complete it then you would need to print it out and mail it in.

          Good luck

      • connie says

        paying on ibr is great but it is just pissing your money down a hole because it isn’t paying even the interest. and if i live long enough to hit that 30 year life of loan repayment status. then i’m told the balance is forgiven. but it’s not really forgiven, the f…ers just turn the bal. into income and then tax it. then u have a whole new debt to add to all that interest. THEN if you cant pay THIS you get to take your tired aged ass to jail for not being able to pay taxes on an income of over 100,000 my guess on the bal. of my loan amount in 20 yrs.

          • Derek says

            Demetrios, I don’t think she’s referring to the public service forgiveness. She’s referring to the 25 years of IBR or Pay As You Earn. In 20 plus years from now, a lot of us are going to be hit with a massive tax on the ‘income’ of the balance forgiveness. That’s the worst thing in the world as then the IRS takes over and they make Sallie Mae look pansy.

      • Joy Blakeslee says

        To have federal loans cancelled, you have to prove that you are ill and not work for three years. But I do not believe that is retroactive. You will have to first apply. You can call the U.S. Dept. of Education and ask them to send you an application for Total and Permanent Disability Loan Cancellation. If your loans are federal do this. You deserve to be relieved of this loan.

        If your loans are private – I have copied this from Michelle, who posted it above to help someone else. You may be able to at least get your payments lowered.

        I recommend you call The Office of the Customer Advocate, this is the executive customer service department at sallie mae, at (888) 545-4199 or send an e-mail advocate@salliemae.com. You’ll deal with one point of contact who will provide his/her full name and direct telephone number.

        If it did come down to your S.S.D check getting garnished, remember that they cannot touch the first $750.00, then can only garnish a portion of what is left. They don’t usually go all the way to 25%. Of course, they try to scare people. But I don’t think they can really take more $30.00 – $50.00.

  17. Jason says

    Although a lot of us Americans may dislike our State Rep s, your best bet, to all that have problems with Sallie Mae, is to contact them. I never in my wildest dreams thought that my State Rep, after receiving my email, would actually step in. He did!! Thanks John Micca!!

  18. Lynda says

    I am a co-signer for my daughter student loan, I don’t know how much I paid out of pocket however I am aware that the debt is mine, what I don’t understand is the “charge off” If Sallie Mae has been paid through their insurance company, why would they still snatch my federal tax and continue taking my money somewhere along the line me or the insurance company is being defrauded…can someone please explain to me how this works, I seriously plan to look into this matter until it is resolved…like Sallie Mae I am not going anywhere.

  19. eve says

    Just received a Sallie Mae double post card. Front states,
    …”This spring, the SALLIE MAE you know is changing, but our commitment to help you save, plan, and pay for college will continue.”
    Open the card up and, “As you may have heard, SALLIE MAE is becoming two separate companies: SALLIE MAE and NAVIENT(sm), etc, etc.

    But look at THE FINE PRINT at the bottom of the card…………..

    “The Sallie Mae logo and Sallie Mae are registered service marks of Sallie Mae, INC. SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries (my emphasis here) ARE NOT SPONSORED BY OR AGENCIES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. (WHOA?!?) 2014 Sallie Mae, INC. All rights reserved. MKT8614BC0114″ VERBATIM
    Now that is rather interesting, does SM stand for Sadistic Moochers?

  20. Rick Lund says

    I graduated in 1990 with $24k in Fed Loans. They allowed me to forbearance for almost 18 yrs. accruing interest at 9% all the while. My fault of course for letting that happen, but what bank or any other financial house would allow a debtor to be delinquent for 18 yrs, then demand pymt in full. My balance now is north of $200k. I pay $1200/mo and will be for the rest of my life. An indentured servant to the US Government. Somehow this just doesn’t seem right.

  21. Joy Rowe says

    I, too, am struggling with Sallie Mae. My income based repayment was processed incorrectly for the third time. Representatives have told me I owe, $0 then $912 then $150 next $250 and now $314. All of this since the first of the year. Today I told the representative that I would like to switch loan providers. She gave me a number and told me that the department of education could help. This number lead nowhere….Not to my surprise. I would love some advice.

  22. shell says

    I have a question I don’t know if anyone will be able to answer but I am going to a Cosmetology School for which I took out a 9,000 dollar loan out . I was under the impression my loan was through Fed loans I even have a letter from them stating that they were the ones my school selected for service of my student loan . Well today I tried to contact them to see how much I owed and to set up payments basically I just wanted to see what was going on with my loan and when I called I was no where to be found in there system so they told me to go to the NSLDS so I did they also gave me a number to call when I got someone on the phone they finally told me no your loan is through Sallie Mae . I just don’t know how this can be if I never filed anything out for a sallie mae loan I though I had a Fed loan I’m not sure what I need to do but isn’t this fraud on my schools part ? just wondering

    • says

      When you apply for a federal student loan your loan can be sent to any one of the servicers, Sallie is one of them. You may be able to change them if you wish by consolidating into the Direct Loan program and choosing a new lender.

  23. Jen says

    The most significant problem is that you are “stuck” with Sallie Mae as the only administrator of Federal Student Loans. Direct Loans was so much easier (and friendlier) to deal with. I never had missing payments, never had a representative with a bad attitude and NEVER had the run around that Sallie Mae provides.

    Sallie Mae started harassing me for payment when I was in my last semester of school as a full time student. They knew I was not working, but had job prospects on graduation. They told me to take a penalty on a 401K to pay them “or else”.

    A call to the ombudsman to have them explain why I was being asked for payment while a full time student straightened that out.

    Sallie Mae reneged on the 6 month grace period post-graduation. They wanted $600 a month, but my income from part time work was $500 a month while in school. I was increasing my hours at my part time job until I found a position that paid more. I applied for IBR and was rejected claiming I was “too old” to apply. I was forced to take an unemployment deferment.

    As the deferment came to a close, I applied for IBR again. This time I was accepted with a given payment. An hour later, I get another email saying I was rejected for IBR and they gave a different amount (still much lower and affordable than the original payment schedule so I keep quiet). I pay that amount, and the next month they double it. It is a stretch, but I make the payment. Now for June they are increasing the payment again based on a letter they sent, but refuse to tell me at this time how much they are raising the payment.

    Sallie Mae ONLY starts their campaign of email letters when their offices are closed. They like causing you stress, negatively impacting the quality of your life and keeping you in a constant state of worry about how your going to pay them and how much do they want this month?

    If Sallie Mae was not the only game in town, I would switch in a minute just to have consistency in the payments. In my opinion, the IBR is a joke and does not bring stability so a recent graduate can get back on their feet making a decent wage. The system is designed for students to default so they can charge their extortionist fees.

    • says

      By consolidating into the Direct Loan program you can actually choose between Sallie, Nelnet, Fedloans, or Great Lakes to service your loans so you don’t have to be stuck with Sallie anymore.

      • Jen says

        Not true. I consolidated through the fed site and was told I’d be assigned a servicer. They assigned me to Sallie Mae. Surprise surprise.

        I’m current, but that didn’t stop them from double dipping my account this month and causing my checking account to go negative. And apparently, the burden is on me to wait the 3-4 weeks for the DoE to refund the over payment…even though it was 100% their mistake.

        • says

          If you consolidate through Direct Loans then you will not be able to choose a lender. You do not have to use Direct Loans, you can submit an application directly to any lender you wish and have them service your loans. This also is only the case since around March of this year. Previous to that you could not choose the servicer.

  24. TakeAStand says

    America needs to take a stand against this! I also am trying to find a way to deal with the loans I have received myself and one that I *stupidly* co-signed on! Plus, I want to go back to school, but I will never get another SM loan again! WHAT can we do as citizens to stand up against this tyranny!? I think a petition needs to be started to be taken to Congress to re-draw the lines they have so cleverly etched in stone! I know just about every last one of SM’s customers would sign it, plus all the parents and relatives–It is just absolutely absurd that we have no voice! Where are you, down-to-earth Lawyers, Senators, and Congressmen that want to be a part of this petition!? I think everyone who is against this absurdity–including Lawyers, Senators, Congressman and the general public need to step up and take control back of the student loan situation in America!

  25. says

    SallieMae debt student loan practices were declared fraudulent long ago. They were swallowed up by Bank of America , so Bank of America put me in default for not having a phone. The usurious interest soared as a result. I gave up because they simply priced me out of the usury game. Then Bank of America lied to America filed for a bailout for my loan, for Sallie Mae’s crimes. If money is extorted from an American citizen by fraud such as usury, manipulated default interest, and consolidation meant to overwhelm the students financial resources, it is a crime and financial terrorism. No debt obtained by fraud has to be paid back. I cannot sign my civil rights away so how can George W. Bush sign my civil rights away to protection from usury and the right that no entity can take even $20 from me without due process in the courts and by the right for me to be before the judge too.

  26. ForgetIT says

    I managed to pay off a nearly half of my student loan with SM. Then, the games started. I live overseas and was sending money over using money orders sent by registered mail. One payment arrived a few days early and they took away my discount, added a late fee and demanded another payment to make up my so called late payment! They said as my payment came a few days early it was considered just an extra payment. I appealed and naturally, I lost. So, I kept paying and paying. Then, my income went down as I was pregnant and on leave. I was told my income would be taken into account. However, the cost of living is much higher along with the wages than where they were considering. They decided I should be able to make higher payments than previously. I offered to make lower payments and this was refused. Then, I was threatened with wage garnishment, tax refund, bad credit and so on. I just laughed because SM does not know where I live and good luck in trying to chase the debt in a country that would consider their practices grossly unfair. So, I said forget it. Have not looked back.

    Have no plans on returning to the U.S. in my lifetime and no one cosigned for me. Sorry it is with the tax payers, but until the government wakes up and stops giving this company the powers a mafia boss could just dream of, people will continue to default. If i kept on paying and getting nailed with the penalties they were putting on because I was supposedly late when I was a few days early, I would be paying it off long after my retirement! Even a mortgage does not take that long! So, SM can kiss my tail. For others, look to leaving the country. Best thing I ever did.

    • says

      Sounds like you have a plan for yourself with the loans, but if I could offer one suggestion.. Since you are not in the country, just file a tax return that shows you have no taxable income in the USA. Then apply for the direct loan program into an income based repayment plan. This will give you a $0.00 payment on your student loans, and unless you return to the USA and start working, it will remain as a zero payment. After 25 years the balance of your loan would be forgiven. This way at least the loans will go away with time rather than always being there.

  27. Pat J says

    We’ve been paying on my husband’s loans since 1994 and still are not done. Isn’t there anything we can do to get loan forgiveness since it’s been 20 years and we’ve not missed a payment?

  28. says

    some one in the white house need to help us with this problem about sallie mae loan i live on 751 a mo.income sallie mae has beening takeing my money every mo.$140.00 FOR NINE YEARSON A 5 thousand dollars loan you tell me when will i get through with it you know and i know that is a lie .how can the gov. let them take my money that long they look at your check every mo. before they send it to you. my disability check do not cover all my bills like the other man said i guess they will stop when i die.one day they will pay for the wrong that they are doing .this battle is not mine it belong to God.

  29. says

    My son in law many years ago defaulted on his Sallie Mae loans and there was a government claim put on his credit report. The loans have since been transferred to a different agency and the debts paid in full to Sallie Mae ….and the new agency payments have been up to date and never late. However, there is still a government claim and Sallie Mae claim showing on the credit report. Sallie Mae says they don’t show any thing in their systems. How does a person get a government claim off a credit report? It is holding them back from getting a VA loan to buy a house. Is Sallie Mae responsible for that claim?

  30. Deborah says

    Thank you for this informative article! Especially for the office of customer advocate phone number. I graduated 18 years ago, and have paid perfectly for 15 years over $75,000 which was the original amount borrowed, and now still owe another $75,000 in interest and had consolidated with my spouse. I finished a divorce 4 years ago, and have been on income based repayment. This year they have denied me doing income based repayment and denied me getting a forbearance because they realized the last 4 years they have made a mistake. They now require the ex spouse’s financial information annually in order to approve any of their programs!!! He will not cooperate. The court order states, and I agree, that I should be solely responsible for these loans. But Sallie Mae refuses to acknowledge the court order and states since he co-signed, he is liable for the loans. So they wont approve a reduced payment option unless I get him to submit his financials. I cannot force another human being to do something and do not want to spend money to pursue it in court. Your article has really helped me to understand that SM actually profits from “squeezing” their customers into default. If anyone has ANY ideas or programs they can think of that I would be eligible for in this situation, I would appreciate it!

  31. Billy Ryder says

    No one seems to realize that Sallie Mae was part and partial to the so-called (PIPP) program after the 2008 financial crash. Private loans were essentially mixed in with public loans–then further combined with other toxic products such as manipulated commodities, defaulted mortgages, credit card debt, and foreign debt. Then the whole house of sand was bundled and hedged into special purpose entities—further combined with municipal bonds, mortgage backed securities, and state pension fund futures—AND SOLD TO SAPPY INVESTORS AS ASSETS. I have successfully sued several student loan entities, many of whom have since gone under. 1- I have exposed the fact that their records are virtually non-existent, 2-That the literal psychopathic coke snorting hedge fund criminals running the house of sand could care less about their investors, 3-That the student loan financial crisis is 10,000 fold worse then the limited mortgage backed security crisis in 2008, 4-That these criminals have been caught using robotic signatures and (dead people) as affiants to debt affidavits in court. the only way to expose this house of cards is to respond in court. if you are sued by any student loan entity, respond immediately to the pleadings, and request all information on the hedge funds (special purpose entities and other toxic products) used regarding your loan. Don’t only ask for your original promissory note, but also, all assignments, and all investment products created with your loan, which have violated privacy laws. You will win, as this nest of vipers are soulless, and will go after easier prey, rather than pay the exorbitant legal fees involved and the public exposure that will result from dissemination of court documents.

    • Candi Dircks says

      Billy Ryder, I am an attorney looking to deal with my 20 years of student loans for which I owe double what I ever borrowed, and for which my monthly payments never seem to actually pay down at all. Is there any way you could share your litigation strategies in a little more detail? I would really love some direction on this!

  32. Glenda Skinner says

    I think the best thing to do is all of us get together and do a class action suit against the government/department of education and Sallie Mae. Couldn’t hurt. I’m fed up with my monthly payments of $165./month being applied to interest only when I have been making faithful payments for years. This loan was taken out in 1988. Went from 10 thousand to almost 20 since then and I continue to make payments. Maybe if we hit them where their pockets are by forcing them to use some of that money on legal defense they will realize they work for us, not the other way round.

  33. Amanda says

    Someone please help me. My mother made the biggest mistake by cosigning on my sister’s student loan. My sister makes thousands of dollars a month and her husband makes over $100k a year. She told my mother she had been paying the loan and then we lost contact with her completely about four years ago. Now, Sallie Mae is telling my mom they are going to pursue legal action against her since my sister has not made A SINGLE PAYMENT. My mom and I have given Sallie Mae my sisters phone numbers, home, work, and her husbands work addresses. They continue to threaten my mother. My mother has already filed bankruptcy recently and can hardly survive as is. Im only 18 and am working two jobs to barely help make ends meet. I would like to go to school some day but i cant living like this. I cant do anything!!! Im looking for a 3rd job!!!!. I have to take time off off work to get surgery too which is going to make this even harder!!!! Someone please help me. Is there any way my mom can get them to go after my sister? Sallie Mae told my mom that my sister took a class in January to get deferred from making payments. How can she do that? Why aren’t they going after her RICH husband?!?!?! I’ll take any help or advice I can get PLEASE :'(

  34. Cindy says

    I been struggle the day I graduate with this loan they sign me up, sallie mae. I try so hard to paid it off each month but interest rate it is insane. It keep rising up month by month. I’m not very happy about it. If anyone out there if their possible way to transfer out Sallie mae company into another company that help lower the interest rate. I do not want to deal with Sallie Mae any further debt then it should be.

    • says

      Cindy we can help get you away from Sallie Mae. When you consolidate your loans you can change the lender if you desire, but the interest rate would not change it would just be weighted average of your current rates. If you don’t know where to begin and need help give us a call we can assist you.

      • cindy says

        I really want to get out sallie mae but I have another loan from Nelnet. I was thinking if sallie mae can transfer the loan into Nelnet? I really want to paid just one full bill. what is your contact number?

  35. Ingrid says

    I hate Sallie Mae. They’re liars. They told me my loans were in good standing meanwhile I was working with NelNet to have my student loans disability forgiveness. I startef the process back in January 2014; as of March 2014, Sallie Mae has garnished my disability check. When I spoke to a rep wanting to know why they’re ignoring the process of my application getting approved for me being TPD (Total Permanent Disability), the guy had the gall to flat out lie to me “oh Sallie Mae doesn’t do that. The Department of Education is the one garnishing your check”; I had the paper from the Treasury department clearly stating that it is Sallie Mae who’s garnishing my check.
    July 27, 2014 The Department of Education approved my application and now all of my loans are being turned over to them. Again, Sallie Mae garnished my check. Even though I will be getting a refund Sallie Mae should not be allowed to ignore policies if other departments that are truly trying to help students with their loans. I’m beyond livid with these pompous morons that I have filed a complaint with the FTC, my local Represenitive and Senator.

  36. Dee says

    Now the FATCA is trying to control US citizens info overseas by requiring other countries to abide by reporting US citizens and their info when they open a bank account, get insurance or work there. When you go overseas now do not open a bank account or get insurance using your US citizenship passport or legal fiction name provided. Get your partner to add them to your account or a friend or family member there until you get citizenship or a passport from another country. Unfortunately people in those countries who do not like Americans can use this tactic as a racial weapon so be very careful…do not say much to anyone. Also they are requiring the Gov in those countries to report you now thru social security or tax info. so they can try to track you that way. These international laws have been enforced just recently June 2014. Tread carefully- the smartest thing to do is to register with the unemployment office in USA and then keep deferring your loans via unemployment or economic hardship for 3-4 years as long as you can until you can get citizenship in that country. You can also reconsolidate your loan and get another 3-4 years of deferment to buy yourself time. You must not give them your overseas info but use a USA address of friend or family member and get a PO box if you can. It can take 5-7 years to get citizenship in another country. This is also a hard one- if you file your tax info from overseas or provide any info. they can track you. The IRS can get you for tax evasion. If you have more than 10K in your account overseas in your name as a US citizen account holder now the IRS wants to take 30% of your money assets for having US citizenship as they passed a law to require banks to audit all US citizens and the amounts they hold or make, including their partners. Your husband, wife or partner of non-USA citizenship can also have their assets or wages garnished if they find out you are married so be very careful. Once you get citizenship in that country stop using your US passport and no longer consider yourself or claim yourself to be a US citizen- if you renunciate your US citizenship they will try to track you – the IRS or FATCA as they require you pay taxes 10 years after renunciation of Citizenship. So far, America is the only country of this kind doing this as the banking system is just too powerful and changes laws and policies to go after people for any money they can- the IRS is also in on this. Be careful do not wave a red flag. Not paying you student debt in USA is not a crime- remember that but in some other countries such as in Down-under it can be now and prevent you from getting in and out of the country… Make a careful decision today as of 2014 laws have come into place in other countries that make things even harder for people esp with disclosing info to USA about US citizens. Sallie Mae is a corp and so is our Federal Gov so remember that too. The US has placed pressure on foreign countries to comply so they will cut their banking privileges so they have also been coerced but some have placed a hand w/ US and complied very easily so they can go after their citizens in US for student debt too.

  37. David says

    My son went to school and racked up $40,000 without getting a degree. The 40,000 is split between sallie Mae and wells fargo as private loans. since the loans have become due I became permanently disabled, Can I get removed the 1 loan that I am a co-signer? also is there a good source to have him consolidate the 3 private loans. He has ADD and can’t keep track of 3 loans. Thanks

  38. Vic TImOfFraud says

    Sallie Mae is a cancer in this country. Student loans will be the downfall of the US Economy in the next couple years. If you thought the Mortgage collapse caused problems in this country, wait for the student loan crisis and watch the economy and jobs go down the toilet 10 fold compared to what happened with mortgages. Sallie Mae uses deception, fraud, lies, harrasment, intimidation and unethical business practices to get a maximum return on their investment. Its basically legalized loan sharking with the help of the federal government and the courts.

  39. Lindsey says

    THREE WORDS:
    Rate Reduction Program –

    I know these posts are old but i’l throw this in there. I’ve got over $250,000 in private loans. They have over doubled since I graduated and I can’t find steady work. My parents co-signed so I can not default without ruining their lives as well.

    After years of begging for solutions from them, exhausting my forbearances, and then paying” interest only for 2 years,” all of the sudden someone on the other end asked if a financial anyalysis of my parents would find they “theorectically” would be able to afford to pay the loans. Apparently if Sallie Mae thinks you can actually afford the min afford payment they will enroll you in what’s called the “rate reduction program,” there are only 9 people in this department. Make a friend and only deal with the one person, make sure everything is ‘noted’ in your account and that you keep records of everything they say.

    Although realistically it would kill my parents to pay my loans they had enough financial standing for Sallie May to allow me to enter the Rate Reduction Program. My monthly minimum was almost exactly the same as it had been with the interest only except now 99% of my payment is actually going twards the principle. The biggest issue with the program is that if you still can’t make the payments they kick you out of the program.

    Took me the last 6 years to figure this out… and an extra $150,000, hope you can do something sooner than I did!

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