Thursday, November 18, 2010

Exercising My Right Not To Forbear

I hate to restate the obvious, but I have been receiving like 15 calls a day from Sallie Mae and Access Group regarding the 2 loans my husband and I had to stop paying because the payment increased to an amount we could not afford to pay detailed here.  Now, this doesn't annoy us because we never answer our home phone anyway and with our cell phones and Google Voice, who needs a house phone anymore?  Heck, I would disconnect the home phone except that I need it in order for our doorbell to work and for the internet.  Anyway, sometimes I answer the phone just for the fun of it, with my new "I can't pay you" mentality and fun, but well-informed attitude to match.  The representative from the start is determined to get me to put this loan on forbearance, so we can get caught up or apply for the Income Based Repayment plan.  I tell, her, "no, I don't want to forbear the loan because you all will capitalize the interest and I'll end up owing more and I still won't be able to pay."  She says, "well, placing the loan in forbearance will allow you to not pay and hopefully things will turn around."  I ask her, "how much is that payment a month?" She says, its $800 something something" (soon as she said eight, I tuned her out).  I tell her, "that payment went from $200 something to $800 something, the only way something is going to turn around is if you turn around that payment back to $200 - can you do that?"  Surprisingly, she say no.  Really?  I mean really?  You can't make the payment $200 again?  I'm shocked and appalled. 

Anyway, she keeps pressing us to forbear the loan and I'm almost laughing hysterically because there is no way she is going to get me to forbear this loan.  Forbearing to not make payments and not making payments because you can't afford it is the same thing to me at this stage - so why delay the inevitable?  Plus, the interest is only being accrued at this point, not capitalized.  But hey, I'm enjoying the banter back and forth for some strange reason.  Then I ask her, "how much is passed due on this loan", she says, "two thousand something something" (again, I tune out after two thousand).  At this point, I really do bust out laughing.  She makes a final attempt to sell me on forbearance and I tell her no and to have a wonderful day!

I'm enjoying my new sense of empowerment and mental freedom.  Now, if I could only get that to manifest in the physical! 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sallie Mae = SCAM = ASSHOLE

The 2nd and final (hopefully) update to my original post Sallie Mae The Billion Dollar Scammer! No Online Principal Only Payment Option! and the 1st update Round 2: Sallie Mae's the Bitch.

Well, I'm happy to report (indifferent really) that Sallie Mae responded via snail mail 2 weeks after I sent my email.  I have to scan and upload the letter, but basically it stated that I couldn't make principal only payments online because per my loan docs accrued interest had to be paid first.  Then, Sallie Mae enclosed a copy of my loan docs for reference (THANKS!).  Now, my question is, if accrued interest gets paid first when I make my monthly payment anyway, why the hell can't I make a principal only payments online in between payment dates????  Its not like I'm paying the loan off so there will be another monthly payment (and another and another) so the interest can continue to accrue - just less of it since I paid down some of the principal.  Seriously, am I being unreasonable or is the level of corporate greed here just ridiculous and undeniable?  I have to say it again, THE BORROWER IS SLAVE TO THE LENDER!!!

My other issue is if you can make a principal only payment via the mail why doesn't Sallie Mae offer the a corresponding online option?  I already know the answer - because the interest will accrue while the payment is in the mail increasing the amount from your payment that would be applied to interest and decreasing the amount that would be applied to principal.  Geez - is this not the definition of SCAM or ASSHOLE?!!   

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Round 2: Sallie Mae's the Bitch

I'm happy to report that I received a phone call from a Brian from Sallie Mae's Office of Consumer Advocate within 24 hours of my sending a very frustrated but rational email to Sallie Mae.  Brian was very kind and said that he would look into my request for a online principal only payment option and get back to me.  Brian even gave me his phone number in case I had any additional concerns.  

Sadly, but not surprisingly, I have not heard back from Brian or anyone else from the Office of Consumer Advocate and it will be 2 weeks on Oct. 4th. Hmm, way to freaking advocate!!!  Thank God I wasn't suffering from anything too serious like, oh say a financial crisis!!!  Of course, you all know I'm not actually saddened or surprised by anything Sallie Mae does or doesn't do.  I'm not delusional (crazy maybe, delusional definitely not), I am well aware that my single email was not going to bring down the corporate demon in a single blow.  I am puzzled however, what exactly is the point of the Office of Consumer Advocate?  You truly have to be delusional to think its to advocate on behalf of the consumer.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sallie Mae The Billion Dollar Scammer! No Online Principal Only Payment Option!

Tonight I'm LIVID!!!  I really shouldn't be but I'm really disgusted that Sallie Mae doesn't have a principal only payment option on its website.  Before I blow up, let me give you some context.  Since I'm finally wrapping my head around my student loan debt, I want to be smart about everything I do with regard to them so I can pay them off and do things like, oh, let's see - afford to have another baby, help the economy out by buying more than 1 pair of brown and 1 pair of black shoes each winter and you know, generally, HAVE A LIFE.  So I was trying to figure out how to make principal only payments to pay down the loan quicker.  


It is RIDICULOUS that multi-billion dollar company requires "customers" (i.e., its bitches) to MAIL IN a "principal only" payment with a letter.  DOES ANYONE ELSE FIND THAT FUCKING RIDICULOUS!!  Jesus, help me - they got me cussing now!!  Ugh.  Let me breathe.

This is just continued confirmation that Sallie Mae is trying to keep customers in debt.  Seriously, in this day and technological age who requires customer to send in payments via snail mail!  Hell, even my mortgage company has an option to make a principal only payment online.  Then, I was reading other blogs where Sallie Mae CONSISTENTLY misapplies the principal only payments.  Also, there have been reports of Sallie Mae taking 3-4 weeks to process such a payment (essentially eradicating any ground you gained by making a principal only payment due to all the interest that accrued)!  WTF!!!  Sallie Mae has over 10 millions customers so how smart is it for them to actually instruct that many people to mail in a damn principal only payment? 

So let me get this straight, first, you require customers/bitches to use the most antiquated form of communication known to man then you don't even apply the payment right?????  Oh, this is the definition of SCAM!!!! 

To make things worse, Sallie Mae states that additional payments made online will go to accrued interest first.  HELLO people - your loan accrues interest every damn day!!!  So your principal only payment of $50 (for example) would not all go to principal if you pay online.  Sallie Mae takes a portion of it to pay the accrued interest first, but if the entire principal only payment went to, oh, say, principal then the accrued interest would be less!!


Now, despite my present emotional state on this issue I am well aware that all the interest we bitches pay is how Sallie Mae makes its money.  So its no coincidence that Sallie Mae doesn't have a principal only payment option on their website - because they DON'T WANT YOU TO PAY THE LOAN OFF EARLY.  Sallie Mae isn't incompetent.  You don't become a multi-billion dollar company on incompetence.  Sallie Mae DELIBERATELY does not have a principal only payment option on it website and probably incorrectly processes payments and/or takes 3-4 weeks to process a principal only payment ON PURPOSE.  They want every damn cent out of you that they can get.  They don't want to help you manage your debt because managing debt ultimately means paying it off.  Anyone or company in this case, that expects you to make payments until you are well into your mid-sixties really has NO INTENTION ON HELPING YOU PAY YOUR LOAN OFF EARLY.  This is abundantly clear by Sallie Mae capitalizing interest on loans that are deferred or in forbearance, how they apply your payments (accrued interest and late fees first), advancing payment dates, and finally MAKING YOU PAY PRINCIPAL ONLY PAYMENTS VIA THE MAIL!!

I decided to conduct my own taste test.  Tomorrow my bank will mail a principal only payment in the amount of $75.00 to Sallie Mae.  The memo section of the check will clearly state "FOR PRINCIPAL ONLY" and my account number.  I'll see 1) how long it takes them to apply the payment and 2) if the payment is applied correctly.  I'll post a follow up entry on the results.

They provide all kinds of options on the timing of your payment, but not one option to make a principal only payment.  Talk about the simplest tool to provide to consumers.  Where is Congress and the American Bar Association (ABA) when you need them!!!!  Why is NO ONE talking about these simple, efficient, practical tools that would ACTUALLY WORK?  Why do I have to get to the point of bankruptcy for help???  Why don't you help me PAY the loans off - whether faster or at all by placing limits on accrued or capitalized interest?  HELP ME PLEASE!!!!!!

Clearly my cries are falling on deaf ears.  Well, since Sallie Mae wants us to mail shit in to them, let's do just that.  Imagine if millions of Sallie Mae bitches actually wrote to the CEO Albert L. Lord and any other member of senior management at Sallie Mae and demanded that they include a principal only payment option on the website (that actually applied your entire payment to the loan's principal balance).  Conveniently, Sallie Mae has an Office of Customer Advocate (how effective they are at actually advocating for the customer remains to be seen, because with the plethora of complaints online I fail to see their results) that you can email as well.  I was so livid I sent the following email to the Office of Customer Advocate tonight.  I hope you will do the same.  
I want to know why Sallie Mae doesn't have a "principal only" payment option to allow customers to make principal only payments electronically.  I find it truly antiquated that a multi-billion dollar company requires consumers to MAIL IN a principal only payment along with a letter.  THIS PRACTICE IS TRULY RIDICULOUS.  Additionally, there are MANY reports of customers doing as Sallie Mae instructed and their payments are REPEATEDLY misapplied.

It is clear that Sallie Mae is abusing its consumers and is deliberately trying to keep people in debt.  I request that Sallie Mae include a Principal Only electronic payment option on its website.   I am aware that this is not the first nor the last request consumers have made regarding this functionality.  The question is WHEN will Sallie Mae listen to its consumers and provide this functionality.  Thank you.
I realize its not the most legally sound letter, but hey, I was caught up in the heat of the moment.  I'm not going to stop here either.  I am going to write a letter to each member of Sallie Mae's management team and I hope you do the same as well.  I'm working a draft letter now and will post it for you all to use if you want.  I am also soliciting content for the letter should you care to contribute.  I'm going to channel this anger towards change (either that or a drinking habit).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Supernatural Debt Cancellation & Dave Ramsey

I'm back from a long and much needed staycation.  My parents came up for Labor Day and we discussed "our" student loan situation.  I'm just so glad to put that part behind me for now.  We'll see how it all plays out down the road.  Speaking of a road, I started thinking about everything I've tried just to get to this point - which is a balance of sanity and casual disregard.  I've tried everything from praying my debt away, working multiple jobs (while pregnant) and of course the most successful route I've tried, the Dave Ramsey plan.  For those of you out there looking for alternatives here's a breakdown of my various routes.

Supernatural Debt Relief
Honestly, I still practice this, because seriously, what do I have to loose except $190K?  With all the debt I have I am naturally drawn to prosperity teachers - because after all I want to be prosperous - not poor.  Oh, and as a side note, prosperity refers to all areas of my life, not just finances.  So when I found out about Supernatural debt release, I jumped on board.  Heck, maybe man is no match for Sallie Mae, but surely God can!! So here's a link to the principles for supernatural debt cancellation.  I also found practical steps for debt release as well; hmmm, you mean prayer & mediation alone won't work?  Damn.  Maybe that's why all that time practicing The Secret didn't produce much results either.  I can't believe I actually have to PAY this bill for it to be PAID!!!  Ugh.  Ok, I'm being sarcastic, I'm clearly aware that I can't wish away my debt, how in ever, that's not going to stop me from trying The Power when it comes out.  (Hey, don't judge me, I told you I've tried (and will continue to try) everything!)  Anyway, I keep a paper with the supernatural debt cancellation scriptures on my desk at work and pray to God several times (well, non-stop really) during the day to rid me of this debt.  Well, actually I pray that the Sallie Mae servers, backup servers and backup to the backup servers are all destroyed and along with them any record of my debt.  

Debt Snowball
Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I swear by Dave Ramsey.  I have learned so much from this man and he has put my entire financial picture in perspective.  He's kept me from bankruptcy, empowered me on how to handle creditors and given me the best road map to get myself out of debt.  After I discovered him, I paid off $18K in debt in one year.  I still have a LONG road to travel, but at least I have some sense of sanity because of him.  I listen to his radio show online everyday to get emotional support from other callers in similar or worse situations than mine. I disregard his political rants (which applies to every administration regardless of political affiliation) and stick to his great financial advice.  I'm sure you know the basics of the debt snowball, but for those of you who don't you can find it here.

I know some readers have the perspective that those of us saddled with massive amounts of student loan debt just want to get over by not paying our back our loans.  As I've shared many times before, this is the furthest thing from the truth.  I actually had 4 jobs while I was pregnant to pay down my debt and thanks to Dave Ramsey I was quite successful at it.  But since I've had my child, I don't have the time or energy to work all those jobs and care for my child. 

Hmm, now that I look back at what I wrote, I wonder really what other routes are there?  If you know of any others, please share.  In the meantime, I'll be over here commanding the universe to submit to my will.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Student Loan Debt: ABA Concern, Action & Relevancy

While researching student loan repayment and forgiveness options, I was surprised to see the abundance of resources that the American Bar Association had on this topic. Talk about irrelevance, here I am along with thousands of other lawyers in the midst of the greatest issue of our legal careers and I didn’t even bother to see what the Guardian of the Legal Profession – the ABA had to say. So I decided to venture further into what the ABA’s position is on the issue of overwhelming student loan debt and what resources they are providing to the profession.

I was surprised to see that former ABA President, Carolyn Lamm, wrote a letter to Congress  about the staggering student loan debt and pushing Congressional Bills S. 3219 - Fairness for Struggling Students Act of 2010 and H.R. 5043 Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2010. What peaked my interest the most however, was her statement, “relaxing the criteria and provisions of income-based repayment (IBR) and other federal loan programs so more may qualify are all options that would assist students and graduates” found in the second to last paragraph. All that bankruptcy stuff is cool, but I’m really not trying to declare bankruptcy. But I am open to any and all levels of practical assistance to ease my student loan debt burden. If I could qualify for IBR without having to have 6 kids that would be a plus for all involved – me, my husband, child welfare, you and every other taxpayer.

It was sobering to read her statement: “In 2009, the United States' largest law firms suffered the deepest cuts in their attorney numbers in more than 30 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the twelve months ending in November 2009, the legal industry as a whole lost approximately 42,000 jobs. The current job market makes it difficult for many borrowers to find gainful employment to enable them to pay back their student loans; the number of associates in large firms shrank by almost nine percent last year, and forty-two percent of incoming first-year associates had deferred start dates.” It puts some realistic and depressing numerical context around a profession that has historically been touted for its economic weathering power and high salary prowess. All of that has vanished. POOF! Gone. Lawyers working at Starbucks, moving back home with mom & dad and being unable to pay their student loan bills is becoming the norm not just for new lawyers, but for mid-level and seasoned lawyers as well.

The ABA’s Law Student Division mentioned Lamm’s letter as well in one of their monthly newsletters. Nothing earth-shattering which made me wonder if law students are paying close attention to this issue? Or are they still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about their ability to repay their student loans and their job prospects. I also wonder if the Law Student Division or the Young Lawyer’s Division is doing anything proactive to build awareness in this area? Seems like student loan repayment is a topic that goes hand-in-hand with employment; both of which are super relevant to both law students and young lawyers. A lot of people talk about the ABA not being relevant, but then I found out that Carolyn Lamm created the Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Profession and Legal Needs. Ugh. “Commission” that means a “talk about it tank” which is just one rung below a “think tank” on the Do Nothing Hierarchy.  The members of the Commission can be found in this press release, but I wonder if any of them are law students, young lawyers, recently unemployed lawyers or employed lawyers with over $150K in student loan debt like myself. It seemed sooo promising. Hmmm, I wonder how effective and relevant this Commission will be going forward especially since Stephen Zack has taken over the presidency; perhaps it will be downgraded to a “think tank”.

What I found most disappointing was the ABA Journal’s podcast How Law Schools Can Help Next Gen Lawyers Take Gamble Out of Hefty Tuition.  I think the title just misled me into believing it had to do with reducing law school tuition…hmmm, don’t know why I thought that. It’s really a couple of academics’ views of how law school tuition got to be the way it is and the incorrect and misleading employment statistics that law schools post. Useless to me and my plight nonetheless. The ABA Journal did have some other articles that detailed the ABA’s “concern” in this area.
  1. President Lamm Hopes Full ABA Backing Will Help Win Loan Breaks for Law Grads
  2. ABA Lobbies for Student Loan Relief for Unemployed Attorneys
  3. Leadership When It’s Needed Most
Damn, does that add up to only 3 articles on this topic???  That is some level of concern. (Disclaimer: this is all I could find, hopefully there is more on the ABA website and if you find it let me know) I read the first article and I had to wonder whether the ABA really has a grasp on the bigger and more subtle issue like CAPITALIZED INTEREST!!!A true alternative is passing legislation that caps capitalized interest on deferred or forborne loans at a percentage of the of the loan like 5%.  Another alternative is to put a cap on accrued interest.

I’ve exasperated my research in this area and conclude that just like my student loan payments, there are no viable options for me – a working, underemployed attorney. That is, other than to find another job that pays more and well, have you seen the job market lately? I also concluded that the ABA has to go deeper and not just talk about surface of an issue if it wants to be relevant to the profession and its constituents – seriously, go hard or go home isn’t that what I pay my membership dues for? (Well, used to pay b/c now that payment goes to student loans).

Monday, August 30, 2010

30 something and in Default

I rode the emotional roller coaster with all of my student loan lenders today. Since I started taking stock of all my loans including their balances and monthly payment amounts, I said to myself “why stop there?” So I called Sallie Mae and found out what type of loans I had – private or federal.  I had a slight glimmer of hope in my tone as I had read about extended repayment terms being able to lower payments.  So I asked the rep if any of the loans qualified for extended repayment terms. The rotten fruits of my labor are in the chart below.

Ugh. Now, I’m even more depressed. Two of the loans don’t have a cosigner and are already at the max repayment term so I have no choice but to default on those loans. Not because I don’t want to pay, but because I can’t afford to pay. Unfortunately, those 2 loans are also federal loans so they’ll probably end up garnishing my wages and my professional license could be in jeopardy (seems ridiculous b/c I need my license to make money and if I don't have it I can't pay you anyway). But right now, my focus has to turn to the loans that my parents are cosigners on. I absolutely can’t default on those and those are the loans with the highest payment amounts. The only loan I’m not worried about is Access Group as that balance is reasonable and I can afford the $60 a month payment even if I end up working at Target. I'll see what I can do about paying that balance off in the next 9 months (270 days) – which coincidentally is how long it will take for the two federal loans to be considered “in default.”

I stumbled upon some decent resources so I could know what to expect during the default process: The US Department of Education Debt Collection Service publishes a guide called Guide to Defaulted Student Loans and Defaulting on Student Loans on also has information on Student Loan Debt Settlements. I was quite surprised to find Student Loan Borrower Assistance as it provided the most useful information. Definitely bookmarked that site. I also have to say I was super excited when I stumbled upon was created by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Project on Student Debt to help student loan borrowers learn about two new federal loan programs: Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Like the tension build up before the slaughter in a horror-film, I ecstatically filled out IBRinfo's web-based calculator. I put in all the information, which I conveniently had at my finger-tips thanks to my nifty spreadsheet (softly play music from Jaws). I eagerly pressed calculate and awaited my fate (volume of Jaws music increases). Then suddenly, the fatal bite from the unyielding student loan beast – “Based on the information you have provided, you would probably not qualify for IBR.” Damn! Damn! Damn James! On a whim, I kept increasing the number of dependents to see how many kids I would have to have in order to qualify. 3? No. 4? No. 5? No. 6 – Ding! Ding! Ding! Correct!! I would have to have 6 kids in order to qualify for a payment of $640!!! Does this reinforce a welfare mentality or what? Because if I had 6 kids I certainly would not be able to have a job other than my own reality show about having 6 kids and not being able to afford anything (I must note that reality shows pay WAAAAAYYYY more than any career in the legal profession so this is now a viable option for me; I wonder if I can get my husband drunk enough).

I would almost be better off with 6 kids and taking a lesser paying job (but seriously, is $86K a lot these days? That’s before taxes and deductions – after all that is taken out I’m bringing home about $57K THEN all the bills start). Just another reason why I can’t afford to be middle class.  I am living the statement that Today's generation will most likely NOT be  better off than their parents.  Forget the 20 somethings - what about the 30 somethings!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cosigner Nightmare and Plan C

Many parents dread having "the talk" you know, about S-E-X, with their kids.  But trust me, nothing is more dreaded by the kid than having "the talk" with their parents about you know, the student loan debt that they can no longer afford to pay that their parents cosigned.  Well, I just had "the talk" with my parents last night followed by a 6:30 am continuation phone call by my father which ended in me crying, talking about suicide, and dropping F-Bombs (soooo out of my character, well at least in front of my parents).

I thought I was being smart by calling my Mom on Tuesday and letting her know that I would call her later (meaning 2-3 days) to discuss a strategy for paying the student loans since the payments increased so drastically.  I completely had my business professional hat on and was focused on laying out the issues and developing a plan of attack.  I was being proactive for a change by attempting to get out in front of the problem before the next bill was due instead of hiding the unopened bills in a shoe box like I usually do.  Well my mom, being the awesome parent she is was one step in front of me.  She called me last night while I was playing with my son on the porch and said, "Is now a good time?"  I really didn't have a good reason to delay any longer so I promptly emailed her the spreadsheet I created. 

I diligently explained my personal budget and how the increased student loan payments weren't going to work (I had been paying them regularly until the increase occurred).  I empathized with them and expressed that I understood that their credit was important and that I could care less about mine at this juncture.  I was purposely being stoic so as not to bust out crying as the whole situation frustrates me when it comes to my parents involvement in this hellish matter.  Then she drops it on me...she tells me that the reason why their credit is so important is because the loan on their home is reviewed periodically and if their credit is bad, their rate increases.  Now couple a new higher mortgage payment along with these high ass Sallie Mae payments and not only is my life ruined, but so are the lives of my retired 60 year old parents.  Shit, I was counting on moving in with them after Sallie Mae takes my house and now they may not have a roof over their own heads! Damn you Massa Sallie Mae - Damn you!!!! How do you fuck up my Plan A life and my Plan B life in one fell swoop! Not to mention my parents' lives as well!  This company is definitely the Devil's Spawn!! Dave Ramsey's voice and the scripture "Borrower is Slave to the Lender" keep replaying in my head.  There is no way the birds and bees talk is more difficult than this discussion because at least you don't have to explain taking it up the butt!

The conversation concludes when I restate the obvious, "So where are we if we can't default and we can't afford to pay the bill?"  An unsettling silence follows and my mother states, "Well, that's the end of that conversation."  We both hang up.  Three minutes pass.  Then a flash of brilliance.  My mother calls back and says, "How many loans are we the cosignors on?"  I tell her I think all of them, but that I would call in the morning to confirm.

The next morning arrives with a phone call from my father at 6:24 am first my cell phone, then my house phone where he leaves a message to call him back as soon as I get the message.  Clearly, I ignore it and go back to sleep.  He calls me again at 7:09, same scenario - cell phone followed by house phone.  I ignore it again.  I finally get up and get dressed and call him back.  He tells me that he didn't sleep at all and that he and my mother walked through the house after the conversation last night trying to figure out what they could sell.  My heart drops.  Then he says that he was even thinking about finding a job and coming out of retirement.  My heart stops.  NOW MY WHOLE FAMILY IS SALLIE MAE'S BITCH!!!  He then chastises me for not apologizing for this situation and not sounding remorseful.  I understood his point, but I'm $190K past remorse.  Plus, remember I had my business professional hat on so I could focus on a solution so all my emotions were checked at the door.  Anyway, I told him I did say I was sorry, but honestly, I can't remember if I said it or not.  He backhandedly berates me by saying I'm a smart girl and I should have kept better tabs on this loan situation.  I try to be my stoic self and appease him by cheerfully saying, "Yes, you're right." (Um, not sure if I should feel bad about not being smart enough when there is a whole movement and thousands of articles and web comments about predatory lending practices of Sallie Mae and other lenders.)  Then it happens.  I lose it.  I go off talking about I have no F-ing life whether I'm dead or alive b/c of this shit and that no one signed up for this and F-this and F-that.  Damn, the one thing I didn't want to happen - I didn't want to lose my cool.  I feel like Sallie Mae takes even more from me when I do that.  My father is clearly not moved by any movement or other people's situations no matter how similar to ours because none of that is going to help him keep his house.  I quickly gather myself and say, "yes, you're right" to his remaining statements.  I end by telling him I'm glad he was able to get it off his chest (it being "shit" which is now all over my face, but hey, at least one of us feels better).

Today I received the best news I've ever heard from my lenders - matter of fact, its the only good news I've ever gotten from them.  It almost tops when the doctor told me I was pregnant!  My parents are cosigners on only two of my loans!!!!!  Default city here I come!!!  I am smiling ear to ear!  Go Mommy for making me check!!!  My parents are cosigners on the smallest loan which is $6,889 and has a reasonable payment of $60 a month.  They are also cosigners on the 2nd largest loan of $63,760 which payment increased to $506.65 from $282.40.  (I want to reiterate that Sallie Mae added $17,596.00 worth of capitalized interest to this loan that's 36% of the original loan amount - THE DEFINITION OF PREDATORY LENDING.)  Now I have a new outlook, a second wind and fresh perspective!!  I will reprioritize my payments to make these 2 loans the most important and default on everything else. Now, that's a strategy!!  My parents get to keep their home and I'll have a place to live when they come for my house!!  If I can execute this strategy for the next 14 years which is how long it will take to pay this Sallie Mae loan off then I will be able to pick up a payment on another loan.  Oh, by the way, in 14 years I'll be 48 years old.  Thank ya Massa Sallie Mae for my freedom! Boy, am I feeling good and riding high!  Now, I just need to figure out how much money I can scrounge up to help make this payment for the next 14 years.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dead or Alive

I finally counted up the cost.  The complete and total cost for my education to date.  And neither my education nor I am worth $190,461.02!! 

Now, I am grateful for my education but as the cliche goes...had I known then what I know now about finances, payments, interest, capitalized interest and life in general there is NO WAY IN HELL I would have made the same decisions.  And this gets to one of the points of my blog - taking advantage of 21-22 year olds who only want to go to school and have no concept or any real life experience with anything other than school and saddling them with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt.  I can't even afford the payments every month of $2,340.12 ($28,081.44so I know I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO PAY THESE STUDENT LOANS OFF.

So yes, I was happy to take loans because I was happy to go to school.  But my issue is that I feel I was taken advantage of.  I wasn't informed about  capitalized interest and how it could equal the amount of the loan (who the hell would think that was even possible!!!).  Additionally, when you are unemployed and you need to defer or forbear the loan, that's when lenders capitalize the interest.  Talk about beating me with a nail studded baseball bat while I'm down.  The only other option you have is to default.  I was speaking to a rep at Sallie Mae and I told her I couldn't make the payments.  She told me that I could forbear the loan.  I said, "why would I do that, if I can't afford the payments now, I won't be able to afford them in six months." Sallie Mae however, would make more money off of me because they would capitalize the interest on my loan while it is in forbearance - so its not surprising that the representative offered me this option. She then suggested I get a part-time job.  I told her I already had 2.

Where do I go from here?  Look at that amount owed one more time.  No part-time job (let alone more than one) is going to put a dent in those numbers.  Do you actually think Sallie Mae is going to see any significant amount of the loan repaid? (Well, I actually know that they won't)I see why people commit suicide over debt because they really have no hope for a life when they are already behind 150K+ when they are just starting out!

For me, suicide is not and will never be the answer.  It won't change anything with Sallie Mae as I am just another delinquent account number to them.  And if I'm going to kill myself to get out of paying them, I might as well stay alive and just not pay them - the end result is still the same:

Sallie Mae}  $0    |    SM's Bitch}  No Life

So is the cost of my education really $190,461.02 or is it my life - whether dead or alive?    

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sallie Mae's Bitch

I finally added up my new Sallie Mae student loan payments since I was on the graduated plan and they just adjusted after 2 years.  Note: this is just my Sallie Mae payments, I have other student loans not subject to the Sallie Mae's Devil's capitalized interest antics.  Below are my before and after payments.

My total payments increased by 152%!!  From $778.00 to $1,967.91.  That is another mortgage and since I already have one mortgage (and daycare which is like a mortgage) it is clear to me that I will be in default very soon (or putting my child on the black market). 

What's sad is that I actually have to call my parents to discuss a plan of attack because they were helping me pay Sallie Mae 2 and they can no longer afford to help with the increased payment.  And if I default on the loan then their credit will be adversely affected.  Now, I could care less about my credit being screwed up because thanks to the teachings of Dave Ramsey, Christian Finacial Counselor, I have freed myself from the mentality that I am my credit score and pay for everything in cash now anyway.  My parents however, live and die by their credit score since they are on a fixed income (which I don't understand because if you are on a fixed income then you don't have any new income coming in therefore you shouldn't be incurring any additional debt since you have no new income to pay for it; hence why does your credit score matter?). 

Seriously, do you think millionaires worry about their credit score?  Nope, they have something called a Positive Net Worth.  The rest of us underlings, I mean everyday people, scurry back and forth frantic over our credit score instead of worrying about our net worth.  As the Bible says, the borrower is slave to the lender and as you can see I'm clearly Sallie Mae's Bitch.      

What's pathetic is that after speaking to Sallie Mae I may have more options if I actually go into default!  Hello!!! Does anyone see the issue with that besides me??  I mean isn't that EXACTLY what the issue is in the mortgage lending industry????  Help me out BEFORE I go into default!! Hell, I'm trying to pay you, I may even want to pay you (well, that's just a blantant lie, but you get my point) so why won't you help me out before I stop paying you??  Forget logic, Sallie Mae just doesn't have common sense.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Maintenance Woman

As a self-labeled anonymous blogger (to protect the innocent - like my spouse and the fact that I would like to procure a job that pays waaaaaay more than I'm making now so that I can actually get out of debt and with companies googling candidates now I doubt they would take to kindly to blog about a $190K+ student loan debt load as apparently it would be perceived as a major character flaw and could be an indicator that I'm more likely to embezzle - at least that's always what is insinuated on Law & Order) I still want to develop a personal connection with my readers, so here's some background about me.

I am in my mid-30's, married with a son who is almost 2.  I have a B.S. degree in Business and a J.D.   My husband has been working for the same company for 13 years (which is unheard of from our generation) and has a B.A. degree.  We've been married for 5 wonderful years.  My parents are still married and are retired. My husband's parents are still married and his mother is retired and his father was laid off this year.  My husband and I both have 2 siblings a piece.  I had a pretty normal upbringing as far as I can tell, which is pretty much not the norm these days. 

I worked full-time and paid for college so thankfully, I don't have any undergrad student loan debt.  I also worked a part-time internship during law school, but $10 and hour usually only covers your transportation and a meal or two.  I am no stranger to hard work as I started working at age 15 at the McDonald's by my house.  Since then I've always had a job, sometimes 2-3 and even as many as 4 (like when I was pregnant).  Since having my child though, mommyhood is first on my priority list so I'm purposely limiting my jobs to 2 (I need to be around so I can drill into him that student loans are from the devil).

I enjoy my current job where I run a very profitable department at a non-profit.  And thankfully, I've survived about 4 rounds of layoffs there.  I have great friends, many of whom I'm discovering are in the same situation as me but no one wants to talk about just how much student loan debt they have and degree of frustration or depression its causing them.  My answer to the "describe yourself in one word" question is Maintaining.  Not progressing; not going backwards; just maintaining.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ridiculousness @ $202,453.48

Damn!! Did you see that number!! $202,453.48 - ARE YOU SERIOUS???  94% of that is student loans!!!  And the worst part is, is that that is just today's number.  With "capitalized interest" tomorrow it will be a new higher number.  Too bad interest on my bank account doesn't work that way. 

So essentially my law school education was worth $190,306.27.  That's a far cry from the $86,000 salary that my non-profit job pays me.  Perhaps, I should ask for a raise.  Let's see, the company hasn't given raises for the past 2 years, we just had our 4th or 5th layoff in as much time and that includes flying through 2 CFO's and our 401K is currently on the chopping block.  I'm surprised I'm still getting paid at all, so asking for a raise is not even a consideration.  My student loan payments keep adjusting upward (hubby's went from $276 to $933.04) but my salary isn't.  

When I told my hubby about the increase in his student loan payment he just laughed and said, "whatever, we'll just keep paying what we've been paying".  I'm glad he could see the humor behind such a ridiculous payment amount.  I laughed because Sallie Mae is ridiculous for thinking it would actually get paid that amount.  I'm not trying to run from the debt, but clearly, that's waaaaay out of our reach.  And the drones that work for Sallie Mae always say there is nothing they can do since the loan is a private loan and the investors only allow certain things.  This is the exact same set-up that was in place in the mortgage lending industry and look what happened to them (e.g., loan modifications).  With all the attorneys out of work (and even those who are still in work like myself, but who still can't afford to pay) I wonder if Sallie Mae investors will offer some modifications.

What sucks out of all of this is that my parents are co-signers on several of the Sallie Mae loans.  They are retired and are on a fixed income and are from the generation who bow to the almighty credit report.  So they freak out when a blemish to their credit report is even threatened.  Now, I am not trying to stick my parents with the loan payments nor can they afford to pay them, so what exactly are the options that I have left? (Note to self google "fake own death" later)

Dah well, I'm looking forward to Sallie Mae's collections phone calls - all 933 of them.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

At Rock Bottom & Fed Up

Wow! Never thought I'd be in such a mental space that I would take the most exasperating phase of my life and post it on the web for all to see.  But here I am - at rock bottom and completely fed up.  I'm fed up at the fact that I financed my American Dream (through student loans) which is now My American Nightmare.  I'm angry at the fact my retired fixed-income parents are caught up in my debt storm because they co-signed my student loans with nothing but the purest intentions of trying to help me become the first attorney in our family. 


and weary that so many of my friends are in the exact same situation.  I've been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray and sadly, I have no one but myself to blame (although its so much easier to point the finger at years of mass over spending and instant gratification by the American population in general even if its not any less comforting).  I was an uneducated consumer when all I wanted was to consume my education.  And now, the cost of my education is consuming me - literally.

My blog will chronicle my seriously unrealistic attempt to get out of debt (unrealistic because I'm in sooooo much debt due to law school loans).  The emotional turmoil, the extra and odd jobs, the practical tips for frugal living and my heart breaking realization that I truly cannot "afford" to have another child.  I will also do the unthinkable...I will post all my real-time finances in my blog (as soon as I figure out how to do a spreadsheet in this thing).  No one wants to say how much they make and how much they spend and what they spend it on - discussing your own money issues with other people is taboo.  But since I'm fed up, I will do so - openly and honestly.  I'll post my paystubs, bills and receipts and my bi-weekly budget (in all its negative glory); you'll see my household income and all our expenses.  Open for you to comment, critique, and make suggestions (and maybe even job offers???) hopefully with the intention of helping me get out of debt faster.

As I said, I'm at rock bottom and if I keep doing what I've always done, I'll always get what I've always gotten.  So now, I'm trying something different for myself, my sanity and for those out there who are just average Americans like myself who have been treading water for so long now we have no idea what being on top feels like and the laws make it impossible for you to drown yourself (student loans aren't bankrupt-able).

I will post my income and expenses in the My Debt tab and will keep a running calculation of the debt payments made and the current total.  This is definitely a sobering and humbling experience.