Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The abused borrower

My loan company is aggressive. They're particularly so about not giving access to the Income-Based Repayment Plan. I don't know about yours, but mine is extremely adamant about making documents as hard to find as possible, and the process as difficult as picking a lock with a dead fish. The issue is the IBR allots the amount you pay based on your income - and not on the loan company's crazy schedule of "projected income." Yeah, I should be making more. Rub. It. In. 

I hesitate to give the name of my loan company because I'm afraid they will one day read this and make an even bigger effort to screw with my mind, writing notes in the margins of my "file" about how chatty I am online.

My fears are founded though. I'm not just some paranoid borrower, sitting in a corner with badly non-brushed hair eating leaves. This is serious.

I received a letter the other day that dashed hopes of holiday gifts, any travel that extended beyond the subway and made the prospect of the occasional ice cream cone an expense to be seriously considered. That's how big a number I was quoted to give them. This is a very different number from what I was quoted when I filed my IBR months ago.

These mailings always result with me showing my teeth on the phone to some poor customer service representative. The number changes on my bill and I go on auto-debiting until they quote me another incredibly crazy number a couple of months later.

This is what I would like to say:

"Folks at the LoanCompanyThatShallNotBeNamed, I'm not getting a raise every month so you can fix the amount. And by the way, I needed the loan to go to school, so it's likely that I'm sitting on a "Breaking Bad" stash of cash.

So stop giving me convulsions every time I get an envelope from you. Set the reasonable price that the government says I am OK to pay according to my income and I will pay it. For real. I'm not trying to dodge what I owe. I really do not want to dodge these payments because I know I can't escape them through bankruptcy, running from the country, changing jobs, etc. We are stuck together and I am willing to pay. I got a wonderful education at two amazing universities and I thank God that you were there when I needed you, OhMoneythatisnotMine from LoanCompanyThatShallNotBeNamed. Please lengthen my life with fewer, accurate mailings. It'll be equally beneficial. I promise."

But instead I say things like:
1. Tell me what I owe in the next three months, payment by payment.
2. Why is this number changing so often? 
3. Why is my account still on standard billing and not auto-debit like I asked for three convulsions ago?
4.  May I speak with a manager?
5.  Why don't the IBR people have a phone to answer customer service questions? Isn't that a little stupid? They're the ones EVERYONE wants to talk to.
6.  I hope you got a degree and it's all paid off. Do you get a discount because you work at LoanCompanyThatShallNotBeNamed? No? I thought so. I'm sorry for being such an awful lady.

OK, so I made the last one up. But I'm torn between getting my information through passive aggressive abuse and being an OK human being. Why does it have to be this way?

Loans are an important part of where I am today and I feel good when I can pay my loans every month. Like, I'm doing this the way it should be! I got a job! I can pay it back! Gosh this sucks! But it's an OK kind of 'this sucks'! Sure, take my money!

But loans continue to be a headache for me three years out of school when many other things - such as clogging up my bookshelves with textbooks, dreaming of final term papers erasing, and naming my staplers - has abated. I ask myself every year how this could be easier, so I make copies and file paperwork and write neatly. And the same mess with half-answered questions and sweat-beading stress reminiscent of remembering the differences between British female romantic poets for Brit Lit class always results. 

I'm a FREAKING ADULT NOW. I CAN HANDLE THIS with pens and papers and calm and filing and chamomile tea and ... WHAT THE HELL? YOU LOST MY PAPERWORK AND YOU WANT ME TO SEND THIS 14-page rundown of my income AGAIN?

I hate you Sallie Mae.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, that last statement is the problem. My sister has quarterly boxing matches with them via telephone.

    Find out if you're able to consolidate through the federal program. (You might not be able to if AwfulLoanCompanyTorturingYourSoul is considered a private lender; I have a few of those too, which I couldn't consolidate.) The federal program is not rainbows and unicorns by any stretch, but it's not Guantanamo for borrowers either. I consolidated and got on their Income Contingent Repayment plan (not to be confused with the Income Based Repayment plan, which is completely different... subtle, huh?). The ICR allows me to submit documents noting any changes in my income and adjusts my monthly payment accordingly. I did this when I thought I would be going for a PhD. (Fat chance now.) I figured I would probably be poor for a long time after getting Dr. in front of my name, and wanted to make sure I could repay my debt.

    I don't know why they make it so hard to repay what you owe. Seriously, you're like me and we're not trying to dodge anything. We, unlike so many others, are able and willing to pay (note that one must be both able AND willing to pay!), but still our nerves are frayed at each mailing.