How to Pay off Private Student Loans from Sallie Mae, Navient, and other Lenders

Student loans are tough, and they present borrowers with heavy debt burdens after college. But while there are a growing number of options available to consumers, most student loan forgiveness programs and other repayment plans are only available to those with federal student loans. Borrowers who are having difficulty with private student loans, from lenders like Sallie Mae, have fewer options. Today we are going to take a look at the programs available to private student loan borrowers. We will analyze six of the top student loan servicers and give tips for how to pay off private student loans.

Note about the updates: Since we first wrote this post, more information about the top private lenders and their repayment programs has become publicly available. For instance, all our post originally said about Discover was that “Discover encourages struggling borrowers to call its ‘Repayment Assistance Department.'” We were vague because, well, Discover was vague too. But times have changed and the student loan crisis, the media coverage surrounding it, and government intervention have worked to create an environment of improved transparency and increased options for borrowers. As of February 2015, the post now contains new information about the three lenders that were originally listed here (Discover, Wells Fargo and Sallie Mae), along with details about other big private lenders. Most importantly, we’ve also added new guidelines presented by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you’re struggling to repay private loans, please be sure to read that section of the article, as it may have the biggest positive impact for you.

The Heart of the Private Student Loans Issue

Many of us know this by now, but it’s worth repeating. Federal student loans are well-regulated and have structured programs to help borrowers. It’s easy to find all of your federal student loan information (via, and the interest rates and terms have historically been reasonable. Even when consumers do struggle or fall behind, there are numerous resources available, and these resources are guaranteed.

Private student loans are a bit more of a “crapshoot.” Maybe you got lucky and picked a lender who tends to be more forgiving. Or, maybe you picked one who refuses to make any modifications or adjustments. It’s hard to know until after the fact. In most cases, private student loans loans are already harder to pay due to higher interest rates, and when consumers fall behind they have no program or resource to help them re-establish their footing. We have already covered the best way to pay off student loans, but for many borrowers who are struggling, this method just isn’t realistic. For many, the payments are too challenging.

Of course, this issue has caught the interest of politicians and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Consumers should be hopeful about the future of private student lending, but this “hope” is of little use to current borrowers.

There are Some Options

Thankfully, there are some options available for your private student loans. First, we will cover options that lenders offer, and then we will highlight some other resources.

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae handed off most of its older private loans to Navient after its 2014 split into two arms, but it still services loans, while also offering new student lending products. As in the past, Sallie Mae doesn’t offer up much publicly accessible information about which options are available for struggling borrowers, but it does provide this call to action:

If you are experiencing financial challenges, whatever the reason, at the first sign of a difficulty don’t ignore it. Call us at 800-4-SALLIE (800-472-5543). We know you don’t want to be in this situation, and we’re committed to working with you to help you get back on track.

In addition, it mentions its forbearance program, which can be used in three-month intervals for up to twelve months. This is certainly helpful for those who need it, although interest does accrue during the forbearance period and a collateral payment is required.

Below are also some programs that Sallie Mae has offered in the past. Again, it’s challenging to find reference to these, but if you are repaying loans to Sallie Mae or Navient, it may be worth it to ask about the availability of these programs.

Graduated Repayment Period (GRP)

Sallie Mae offers a six-month grace period after graduation. During this time, a borrower is excused from making payments toward his/her loans. Traditionally, the borrower would then have to begin making monthly payments that include principal and interest. Under the GRP, the borrower only has to pay accrued interest for the first 12 months of repayment. This means that recent graduates have 18 months before being required to pay toward the principal.

Like with many repayment programs, this can lead to higher payments later and a more expensive total loan amount, but it helps consumers get on their feet after graduation. This is particularly important for those who struggle to find work.

12-month rate reduction

One of the most successful programs Sallie Mae offers, this program offers lower interest rates, as low as 1 percent, and sometimes includes a modification of the loan term. To qualify, borrowers must first make three consecutive on-time monthly payments at the reduced rate.

According to Sallie Mae, “Most participants successfully complete the program and return to current payments.” Sallie Mae also claims that it will extend the reduction period for some borrowers, based on employment status and other financial indicators. According to a letter from Sallie Mae to the CFPB, this program has a success rate of 78%.

Sallie Mae also offers reduced monthly payments, extended repayment schedules and, likely, some less-advertised hardship programs. In their letter to the CFPB, they also state that they are in favor of rehabilitation programs for private loans that can help borrowers recover from default.



Navient, the sister company of Sallie Mae, now holds and manages many of the private loans that were previously managed by Sallie Mae. Unfortunately, Navient keeps information about private loan repayment close to its chest. In other words, options aren’t described in detail on its website or in any public forum. Instead, Navient advises, “If you have a private loan, contact Navient and your other loan servicers to find out what options are available.”

The good news, however, is that it appears that Navient does work to help borrowers who show the initiative to call in. According to a Huffington post article from August 2014, “More than 28 percent of loans serviced by Navient are enrolled in repayment plans tailored to borrowers’ earnings, making the company the second-biggest user of income-driven repayment plans.” What’s unclear is the percentage of these borrowers who are offered income-based plans for their private loans, and the chances are that the number is zero or very close to zero. Again, the transparency and information provided to private loan borrowers is disappointing.

Navient does, however, make a point to refer clients to credit counseling. This is a good sign that they understand the fact that student loan debt is often just a part of a larger debt crisis. By working to get credit card debt under better control, borrowers will likely improve their overall financial situations and free up more money for their student debt. However, what would be even more helpful are innovative programs designed to help repay private loans, so we hope Navient makes this information more available soon.

Wells Fargo Student Loans

Wells Fargo

For starters, Wells Fargo appears to have a generous forbearance policy for its private student loan borrowers. Students who are interning, in a residency or fellowship, or enrolled less than half-time as a student might be able to qualify.

However, the bank has also disclosed quite a few short- and long-term repayment options for struggling borrowers. The main options include:

  • An extended grace period of up to six months
  • Short-term payment relief (up to two months) for borrowers with an on-time record
  • Additional payment options if you are already past due

Some of these are more vague than others, but it is clear that there are some options. The other, more significant program is relatively new. It’s called the Private Student Loan Modification Program (PSLM) and is the first of its kind to be publicly disclosed. The program allows certain borrowers to qualify for an interest rate reduction to make their payments more realistically affordable, based on their income.

Here is additional information from the official press release:

Through the program, Wells Fargo private student loan customers experiencing a hardship will have their financial situation reviewed on an individual case-by-case basis to determine eligibility for a short- or long-term loan modification, as appropriate. If eligible, Wells Fargo will lower the customer’s interest rate to achieve a student loan payment that is determined to be affordable based on the customer’s income level.

Borrowers interested in this program or others offered by Wells Fargo are encouraged to call in at 1-866-878-1083.

Discover Student Loans

Discover Student Loans

Discover offers a variety of options to borrowers. One of the most basic options is deferment, and Discover extends deferment options to members of certain occupations, including those who are:

  • On active military duty (up to 3 years)
  • In public service with certain organizations (up to 3 years)
  • In a health professions residency program (up to 5 years)

In addition, they offer an extended grace period, which is simply a three-month addition to your current grace period. Even if you’ve passed the grace period and entered repayment, you may use this if you are still in the first three months of repayment and are less than 60 days delinquent.

The other options include a payment extension (the ability to catch up on missed payments), reduced monthly payment, forbearance, and a hardship program that involves an interest rate reduction. You can read more about the specifics of these programs and how to qualify, but be sure to read the guidelines from the CFPB below, too.

In addition to these traditional programs, Discover also has plans to launch a formal student loan repayment assistance program later this year. The details aren’t publicly available, but the program could be very similar to Wells Fargo’s new program mentioned in this article.

For starters, read this Wall Street Journal article which covers some under publicized programs being offered to borrowers at Discover and speculates about upcoming repayment options. If you are a struggling Discover borrower, you may want to call in and inquire about these programs immediately.

PNC Bank

PNC Student Loans

PNC’s main private student loan product is called the “PNC Solution Loan.” One nice perk about this loan is that the standard repayment is a 15-year program, which makes monthly payments more manageable than its 10-year counterparts (although it’s also more expensive in the long-term). PNC doesn’t list a lot of repayment options on its website, other than some generic information, such as “Outstanding debt will be forgiven upon the death of the borrower.”

To dig deeper, I used the site’s chat feature in order to speak with a customer service rep and learn about additional programs or repayment options. What I gathered was that there is a standard six-month grace period, but that PNC does have an extended grace period of six additional months. It wasn’t clear if this had to be used all at once or could be used on a month-by-month basis as needed. There is also a forbearance option, and all available forbearance time must be used before PNC will work with the borrower in a modification program. Lastly, I was told that there aren’t any reduced payment or reduced interest programs (although perhaps there is something similar that isn’t publicized but is offered after all forbearance is used).

It should be noted that older PNC loans are managed by AES and Great Lakes. A customer service rep who spoke with me on the phone recommended reaching out to those agencies to learn more about particular programs that may be available.

Citizens Bank (RBS)

Citizens Bank

Like PNC, RBS also offers a 15-year term loan, which again offers a lower monthly payment at the cost of paying more in interest. Beyond the basic repayment options (which in this case are essentially loan types) of “immediate repayment,” “interest only repayment,” and “deferred repayment,” the chat specialist I spoke to wasn’t able to give me much information. She did, however, give me a number to call, but the representative on the phone only informed me of the same three options, along with what sounded like standard forbearance and grace period programs.

This one is worth some additional research, and we will update the post if we receive any new information.

The #1 Rule for How to Pay off Private Student Loans

We have seen that private student loan companies offer a variety of repayment options that you may not have known about. And, obviously, the list here isn’t comprehensive (we’ve just made an effort to cover the largest institutions). While some lenders publish their repayment options publicly, others keep this information private. Luckily, more and more has become public since our first version of this article in 2013. While withholding information makes it slightly more difficult to access, it doesn’t mean that borrowers should give up.

communicate with lenders about private student loans

Instead, it means that the most important rule about paying off private student loans is that you need to communicate with your lender! As we have shown, most lenders are willing to help you and might have some sympathy for your economic difficulty. But the reality is that they won’t give you this sort of help if you don’t ask for it. We encourage you to call early and often during your period of financial difficulty and to explain your situation thoroughly when you ask for help. You will also want to leverage paper mail, in accordance with the the CFPB’s guidelines, outlined below.

CFPB Guidelines


In addition to updates from the financial institutions, the CFPB has also taken a tougher stance and provided more guidance since we first wrote our article. For starters, the CFPB has echoed concerns that we’ve heard firsthand here in the blog comments about the resistance from lenders to actually help remedy borrowers’ situations and present tangible options. Here’s some commentary from the CFPB:

For example, our analysis of complaints reveals that many of you tried to find out more information by calling your lender or servicer, but received conflicting or inaccurate information as you were bounced between call center staff. Many of you told us how you were provided no option at all, driving you into default, even though a reduced payment plan might be in the best interest of both you and your lender.

What’s particularly interesting here is that the CFPB accurately points out that a hardship program of some sort would be mutually beneficial, which has us all scratching our heads as to why the programs are so elusive. One solution to this predicament might be to arm yourself with even more information when you make contact with your lender. Having the ability to present more concrete evidence of your financial standing could help you make a stronger case. The CFPB says:

Some student loan companies have told us that they may ask for recent pay stubs or a bank statement to verify income and expenses. Consider including these documents with your request, which you can mail or send through your private student loan servicer’s website after you login.

Having these documents handy could pay big dividends, and offering them before they are requested could also get the conversation started.

Another important point is to keep in mind the power of physical mail. It’s hard to believe that even in the modern times we live in today, communicating with lenders and other financial institutions is typically most effective when done through paper mail. This is particularly challenging for millennials, who prefer electronic communication, but ironically they are the group most negatively impacted (and frustrated) by this private student loan debacle.

Overcome this concern and reach out via paper mail using this letter provided by the CFPB: Private Student Loan Hardship Letter.

Download the letter, fill out the appropriate information, and send it to your servicer. Keep scanned copies of everything you send. This could be a powerful tool in getting a response, including some options that have not been presented to you via telephone. If you try this approach, please come back and let us know how things turn out by adding a comment below.

Other Resources for Private Student Loans

If you are still struggling, there are two more options to consider. First, if you feel that your loan servicer has broken the agreement or terms of your loan, you can contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you file a formal complaint with the CFPB, they may be able to help.

Secondly, you should leverage the flexibility of your federal student loans by enrolling them in repayment programs. In most cases, this will allow you to have lower monthly payments for your federal loans, and this will free up more money to put toward Sallie Mae or other private loans. Ideally, this will help you pay off your private student loan debt completely, and then you can focus on the federal loans.

One of the best ways to learn about federal student loan programs is by talking to a student loan counselor. Clearpoint offers this service, and a counselor will help identify your best repayment options, review your budget, and give insight into your credit. Learn More.

Where do you go from here?

If you have private student loans, there are three key takeaways you should remember:

  • Communicate with your lender(s) regarding your financial situation and use the CFPB letter.
  • Get familiar with the available hardship programs offered by your lender, and contact the CFPB if the lender breaks your agreement.
  • Leverage the flexibility of your federal student loans.

We hope you can put these strategies to work. For more information or help with your student loans, call us at 1-800-675-7601 or click here to schedule a student loan counseling session.

Thomas Bright is a longstanding Clearpoint blogger and student loan repayment aficionado who hopes that his writing can simplify complex subjects. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him hiking, running or reading philosophy. You can follow him on Twitter.

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257 responses to “How to Pay off Private Student Loans from Sallie Mae, Navient, and other Lenders”

  • sandeep

    Great article. I have never done any P2P lending and as such I wasn’t aware of robotic loans investing.

  • I know this is an old article but I hope somebody still responds or can comment. My daughter and I both have student loans and we both experience hardships. I co-signed two of my daughters loans and she only was able to her loans into forbearance since they excused that I can pay for her loans now. What are our options? I can hardly make it as a single mom of 3 and my student loans are coming due now as well.

  • Eileen Soto

    Hello Thomas,

    I know your article is a few years old and my son (and me as his co-signor) are in alot of debt with Sallie Mae with student loans. Are there any updates to this article? We are in forbearance right now and running into the last quarter and not sure what to do after that point. My son did get a job in his field out of college but unfortunately does not pay enough to manage his Sallie Mae loans. He is also pay his Navient under the IDR program for now. He is thousands in debt and we were, as I’m sure others were as well, completely taken aback once he graduated and all along thought his Sallie Mae loans were federal and at that point found about the split between Navient and Sallie Mae. Forbearance is done and not sure if the next step is defaulting (which in the long run will hurt us both). Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.

    • Emilie Burke

      Hi Eileen! I’m sorry about the difficult time you’re in! The information in this article is totally up-to-date! I hope that helps!

  • Donald

    Sallie maes so called reduction interest plan is not that at all. They say they are reducing your interest but what they are doing is taking the monthly amount that you save and putting it into the back of the loan. They will put you on a program for 1-2 years and then quickly read you a 5 minute description which if you don’t listen closely you’ll miss the part where fir taking this interest reduction you will add about 6 more years to your loan.

  • It is a shame that Navient has no options for loan reduction or other options such as going from variable interest rate to fixed interest rate. I called them about settlement options. Forget calling on that issue cause it is not happening. They want every dime of the loan.

  • Charles

    It’s a shame that our government have billion of dollars to waste on unnecessary wars but cannot help our own students to payoff their loans. Sometimes I do not blame folks who turn delinquent for not paying their loans.

  • Mike Wilkinson

    I have two children that have multiple student loans, most of them private. They are through Great Lakes, Wells Fargo and Navient. I am wanting to try and get those loans consolidated for one easy payment. We have decided the best strategy would be for us to help them some with the payment but would like to get it all on one loan if possible. Just not sure the best way to approach.

    • Thomas Bright


      That thinking makes sense, and a single payment would certainly be more convenient. However, we strongly recommend NOT consolidating the federal and private loans together (you say most are private, so consider consolidating those and leaving the federal alone). The federal loans have great safety nets. To get started, you might try companies like SoFi and see how low of a rate you can get. That’s where I would start.

  • Denise

    I know this is an old article, but currently Sallie Mae does not offer ANY kind of programs to anyone with an existing loan with them OTHER THAN forbearance for up to 3 months. There is no alternate program once you are in their system – they do not refi, consolidate, reduce, nothing. You are stuck with what you agreed on at the time you took the loan out. Just thought I’d mention this. Check every detail with any loan company you choose. Sallie Mae in my opinion is probably the worst – they usually charge very high interest to kids who need the loan to get into school, but will not work with them later to make the payments affordable.

    • Christine Porter

      Sallie Mae does do a reduction in interest however, you will need to have your co-signer call as well with their financial information as well. The phone calls last about 2 hours each and are very painful and absolutely awful but we finally did prove that we do not have the income to make the payments they were requiring. The interest rate was reduced for 2 years.

  • Hi
    I have a degree from the art institute for a Bachelor degree in audio.
    Graduated in 2009 and have been making payments since 2011 (couldn’t do it immediately after school because there jobs weren’t easy to come by)

    I owe Navient 166,000.00.
    The best I could get from them is get a rate reduction plan for 1 year. It was 3%, next year 4% and it will keep going up until it’s back at 8 or 9%.

    The majority are private lobs with a co-signer.

    When I enrolled the student adviser garanteed that all graduated were working in the field, which was a big lie.

    The classes were many times the same class with a different name. For example 4 classes to learn pro tools shortcuts, but zero classes in audio visual installation (which are the only jobs available… And it’s rare that they come by. )

    I have been paying them every month but at the cost of not even eating sometimes.

    I was laid off from my job as a product line manager for an audio product, but the product was discontinued and I lost the name. Now I work as a pizza delivery driver because I’m not qualified for anything other then audio… And no jobs at all in the field are available. Absolutely zero.

    I’ve been paying them for 5 years and the number never goes bellow 166 thousand. So there is no end in site. I won’t live long enough to pay them.

    What do I do? 🙁

    • I have a Navient Loan, and I am on an income based payment where I send in 1 time a year a renewal for this, and there have been a couple years where I have not had to pay anything, and after 10 years of this payment and non payment the loans will be forgiven. Look into it! It is worth it.. I have $110,000 in School loan debit.

      • Are your forgivable Navient student loans private or federal? Thank you.

    • Pharoan Johnson

      I recently was granted an extended repayment modification through Navient, who services my Sallie Mae student loans. It took about 5 minutes through a phone call to a normal customer service rep. They didn’t offer it though. I had to specifically request it. They extended the term of my loan, which dropped my monthly payments by just over 40%. This was a life saver. Some of Sallie Mae’s loans are still serviced by them instead of Navient. I’ve read that they offer the same option. Remember, you have to request it. Good luck!

  • Hayley

    I am up on my 5 years of teaching math in a title 1 school. I have my largest student loan through Wells Fargo. Do they accept the teacher loan forgiveness?

    • Thomas Bright

      Since they are a private lender, unfortunately they likely do not offer that program or anything like it.

  • I see that the big private lenders like Navient and Nelnet don’t offer refinancing…they only offer “consolidation.”

    Why is this? Can you consolidate one Navient loan to one Nelnet loan (essentially refinance it)? Or does it have to be multiple loans to one loan?

    I’m confused why they don’t offer this. Borrowers like me have to go to these alternative companies that I don’t know anything about, and the servicers are losing business…can you explain? Thanks!

    • Thomas Bright

      That’s a good question. The obvious answer is that they are making more money on the higher interest rates that they are charging. So they don’t have incentive to lower it other than to try to stop folks from using other companies. But even people who do refinance successfully have paid a good chunk to them first. I imagine that you can refinance one loan at a time, though that will vary by each company and their terms.

  • Ashley

    Is it possible to consolidate private student loans from Sallie Mae and AES along with a personal credit card in order to make one payment for the entire debt a month?

    • Thomas Bright

      That should be possible. The question is though will you get terms that are really worthwhile, or might you be able to save hundreds or thousands of dollars by doing them separately. That’s what you’d need to shop around for.

      • David Coady

        I have asked this same question. As of February of this year (2017), Navient no longer accepts credit cards as forms of payment…..they are literally handcuffing us ball and chain to make sure that payments are impossible to make…..they want you to DIE making these asinine payments.

  • Mark David

    Once student has completed his study and got good job, after that only he should pay off loan amount.

    • Thomas Bright

      That’s usually the right way to go about it, for sure, though there are some exceptions. For instance, paying off loans while still in school can be a smart strategy in some cases.

      • Stacey

        Are there risks in paying off older private loans with federal loans (if you are going back to school and don’t need all of the federal loans you are offered)?

        • Thomas Bright

          If it’s within the terms of your new loan to do that, and you have enough to also cover the education expenses you will encounter, I do see where that could be helpful. You’d get protections with the new federal loan that you don’t have with private loans. Main drawback I can think of is that refinancing the private loan might still get you a better deal that could save you significantly in interest.

  • Jo-An Owings

    The SoFi comment sounds interesting. My Granddaughter has 75,000 in private SallieMae loans and I am co-signer. This has jammed my credit unfortunately. I would like to help her to work the 4 loans into one acceptable payment. With the private loan they tell me it cannot happen. If Sofi can help please tell me how.

    • Thomas Bright

      Yes, SoFi or other refinance companies can be a great option! You would need to contact them directly and apply. My suggestion is to “rate shop” — in other words, reach out to a few companies to see which will give you the best rates/terms. Here’s a longer list we published of companies that do this (though there are also others out there):

      • Denise

        Sofi, as with most of the companies out there who offer to refi school loans privately, will not refi anything other than a bachelor degree loan. So those of you with Tech Certificates or Associates Degrees are out of luck even though it may have cost you a pretty penny to get where you are. I did notice that some banks will refi non-bachelor loans but you must make a years’ worth of payments first.

  • I have $177,400 in student loans
    $49,500 in credit card debt
    No savings
    Last year, I made $14,000

    • Thomas Bright


      I took out part of your comment, which came across as sarcasm but I hope that you will consider the following resources if you do need help: (proof that you aren’t alone in this struggle and journey) (a phone number you can call if you ever need to chat)

      Based on the numbers above, you are facing an uphill battle, but you definitely have options. Bankruptcy is very tough to qualify for with your student loans, but some have chosen to pursue it. And, it definitely may be a viable option for your credit cards. Then, step back and assess your career mobility. What’s keeping you from making more. Maybe you can move to a bigger city, or just get a few more jobs under your belt and then your income can creep up significantly. I don’t know your exact situation obviously, but there’s always hope so don’t give up.

      Please give us a call too if you want general help developing a budget and game plan.

  • Cherie

    Who do you recommend to use for refinancing both private and public loans? I have over $100K in student debt and forsee no way out of this. Help! I have managed to pay on time up until now so my credit is still good, but I am a now a single mother of 3.

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Cherie, we can’t make an official recommendation, but there are a few options mentioned in this article. You’ll need to think long and hard before refinancing your federal loans, though. Keep in mind that you’ll be sacrificing their safety nets, including the ability to have them forgiven in certain conditions.

  • Thelma

    SoFi is the way to go!!! I honestly love them. I had a Sallie Mae Private Student Loans in excess of $70,000. I made payments while in school. There were some HUGE mix ups at Sallie Mae… double payments, not crediting the correct accounts, calling me because they didn’t receive payment (when I was enrolled in auto debit, and they were again not crediting the correct accounts), telling me I was approved for a two year rate reduction, but then later denying it WITHOUT informing me (this happened 3 times in a 2 month period). Finally, I made the switch to Sofi. They are amazing. Since switching, I have even received two gifts from SoFi. (Don’t worry, I checked my statements to make sure I wasn’t charged for them.) My payments are several hundred dollars lower per month. Not to mention a fixed lower interest rate. Everyone I have spoken to at SoFi, has been helpful and kind. They are awesome!!!

    • Thomas Bright

      Great to hear that SoFi worked out so well for you!

  • David Kim

    I received nearly $17k in college loans that I started paying off from 2010 that is scheduled to be paid off by 2019. Now the principal loan amt has dropped to about $7,600 but my monthly payment has kept rising since last year from $183 to $193 and then $194 and today $198!!! Just Wow!!! I called the loan company and asked why they keep raising interest, and they replied by saying it’s because the loan won’t be paid off in time. What!!! The agreement was to pay it off by 2019. I’ve made all monthly payments and still have nearly 3 years of time left to pay off the principal amt!!! What do they mean it’s not getting paid off soon enough???!!!

    • Thomas Bright

      That is a very bizarre situation, David. You’ve been accelerating your payments, and they have increased them. Usually when I think of increased payments, it’s with the graduated repayment program, but it’s sounds like you are dealing with private loans here so that wouldn’t be an option. If you can verify that the servicer is not proceeding with your loan as agreed upon, I strongly encourage you to file a complaint with the CFPB. That might not only help you, but others too.

      Good luck!

  • Kodi Howard

    I am having a hard time finding a lender that will refinance my private student loans. The lender that I have for majority of my loans is American Education Services. Because I have used all of my options for lower payments, I am no longer eligible for anymore payment plans. AES will not work with me to lower my payments. With all my loans combined I pay close to $1000 a month. I drive a 1994 car that is going to break down at any time because I can not afford to add anymore loans/payments to my monthly expenses. I can not refinance my loans because my credit is not good enough (but it is not bad- 680). Maybe my credit would be better if they would lower my payments so I can pay them on time. This system wants people to stay in debt! It make logical sense to me that allowing more flexible payment options would create less issues for them as a lender as well. I would rather have someone pay me a smaller amount then not pay at all. I want to pay what I owe, but I shouldn’t have to squeak by every month because I wanted to get an education. Getting private student loans is something I will always regret. I appreciate the opportunity to express my frustration and if you have any suggestion, please let me know. Thank you!

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Kodi, I totally hear where you are coming from and am sorry about the challenges you are facing. You are absolutely right that it creates a cycle. It’s hard to build good credit when your payments are so high each month and you are squeaking by. You might be able to try some alternative refinancing companies, like Pave, which make their decisions on more of a personal level. And, hopefully your credit score will keep improving and you can make the climb to 700-750. If you have credit cards, be sure to keep your “utilization” low, and that may help significantly.

  • I took out a student loan for 15k and by the time I pay it off I will have paid 60k!!! By the time I started paying interest already built up and my loan balance was at 25k! Ridiculous! I’ve made my payment on time every month and have called Wells Fargo to discuss options multiple times with no success! I wish I knew then what I know now

    • Thomas Bright

      Sorry to hear that Jami, but it sounds like you are on the right track toward paying them off. If interest rates are the problem, you might want to consider refinancing if your credit will qualify you.

  • Have you ever heard of Student Loan Help Group? I received an email to my school email. I am a teacher and their offer was to help me qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. In the past when I have contacted Sallie Mae/Navient concerning this program they stated that the company does not participate in the TLF. According to Student Loan Help Group, their program pays off the private student loan amount and then I could make 120 on time payments based on my income and have the rest of my loans forgiven. I would also pay Student Loan Help Group a one time amount of $750.00 to process my account. Not sure if I should work with this company, but I am desperate to have the majority of my loans forgiven. Thanks for your advice.

    • Thomas Bright


      To me it is a red flag to think that a third party would be able to help you get forgiveness for these private loans. For this to add up to your (and their) benefit, they would need to pay off your loan at a reduced amount from Sallie Mae, so that by the time you made 120 payments to them, you would have paid more toward the loan than they paid to pay it off (essentially purchasing it). The only other way I see (where this would make sense for the third-party) is if they charged you higher interest/higher monthly payments than Sallie Mae is currently. Have they given you any info on what your payments would be? The setup fee is also troubling. That said, this could be a viable option and legitimate company, and I may be missing something here–I just don’t know enough specifics to give you a firm answer. I would do additional research on the company before moving forward. Best of luck!

  • I noticed that during the last few years my loans interest rate increases when my credit score increases. I was also a bit confused about why Navient can charge interest for the original amount of money borrowed. They are collecting interest on $8500 when my balance is $6189, which is shameful since I know I have already repaid $12+ on a loan indicates I will be repaying a bit over $15k for fifteen years.

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Steve,

      Wow–very interesting observations! My guess is that the correlation between interest rates and credit scores is coincidental. I guess those are variable rate loans, and the change just so happens to occur in close proximity to your score. As for the point about interest growth, that does sound alarming. Are you 100% sure that the interest is being applied to the $8500 rather than the $6189? Maybe the way they’ve presented the information on your statement is misleading, but they’re actually applying it correctly? Assuming a stable interest rate and high enough monthly payment, each payment should be sending more to the balance and less to interest as you go. If that’s not happening I would certainly call them to find out the specifics. If they’ve made a mistake they should be able to adjust your account accordingly.

  • Does the President’s forgiveness program apply to Navient Loans?

    • Thomas Bright


      There are some forgiveness options available on federal loans, and yes Navient is one federal servicer. You will need to make sure the loans in question are federal loans.

  • Shannon

    I appreciate this information, but is there any other options? I have a forgiveness program for my unsubsidized loans, but it doesn’t include my Sallie Mae/Navient Loans. I can’t afford to pay all of them. The forgiveness program is for public service, as I am in social work. Being in social work is also the reason I can’t afford to pay all my loans. Navient repayment is $619 per month, and FedLoan is $227 per month. That being said, my salary is only $31,000 per year. Paying one month of my student loans would be half my income every month.
    Any suggestions?

    • Thomas Bright


      I totally hear where you are coming from, and I share your sentiments that there should be more options for private loans, which often have some unrealistic repayment plans! I think your best bet is to call your lender and see what they can do. I’m guessing you’ve already tried this, so your next best bet would be to consider refinancing options. You’ll need good credit, but it’s a great way to make these loans more manageable if that’s an option for you.

  • My son is staring down 150,000 plus in Sallie Mae loans – the repayment is astronomical and there is no way to pay the 1800 a month payment. I am considering going to SoFi for consolidation loan, but am not sure that’s the best course. He is unemployed and struggling to find work.
    Any suggestions?

    • Thomas Bright


      I agree that refinancing is often a great (if not the best) option for private loans. He may need your help (cosigning) to qualify, so I would just be careful about proceeding there and make sure you understand all the risks and how each and every one of you will be affected.

  • thank you -nice to have a better opinion then our guess work

  • my son has about 30K private credit union loans -payback amt is 375/month x 10 years-has another 25K or so in federal loans -they are taking 275.00/month from him (we are currently paying the 375.00 barely and 2nd childs 30K credit union loan will come due next month &I can’t imagine what his federal loans are going to be)
    1) is it worth trying to get his federal loan payments reduced -I think they do something with an income ratio (he makes about 23, 000.00yr,)????-
    2) his income eventually will go up and potentially as a public sector employee within the next month or so–then potential for the federal loan forgiveness in 10 years
    3) should we roll the 2 credit union loans into home equity loan at 3% vs the credit union rate at4%–I’d like to see the boys take over the credit union loans or just pay us to help if we do home equity line

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Mike,

      For more detailed advice you can certainly reach out to one of our counselors. But here’s my take:
      -Yes he may be able to get some relief through an income-based repayment plan, and based on what you said that is definitely worth pursuing.
      -PSLF is also a great resource. My advice: don’t fully rely on it (example: he might change jobs and leave public service) but it’s a great program for those who qualify.
      -I’m really not a fan of home equity because you are essentially using your home as collateral. Other financial advisors may have other advice, and you’ll have to assess your own risk tolerance. BUT, there are other ways to refinance loans, which may be more favorable to you. Check out the lenders here, for example:

  • I have a couple of questions…
    When one of these online schools convinces people that they will find you a job and contacts Sallie Mae themselves, with your highschool records… Is it the schools responsibility to be sure that the diploma is accredited in the state that you live in? or is it up to SallieMae to check on it all. Does SallieMae ever actually look at your past records? or does the school just turn in the information as they see fit?
    I’m just wondering why SallieMae would give out loans to people who quit school in their senior year, with failing grades. No GED, because the class for that was taken online and later to find out that it was not accredited in all states. Doesn’t the school know this? and wouldn’t Salliemae have known?

    • Thomas Bright


      That’s a great question, but it’s beyond my area of expertise. There’s probably some sort of verification process that Sallie Mae uses, but again I don’t know the details. You may want to contact them or the school for more information, and depending on the severity of the situation you could also consider getting legal advice.

  • Hello I’m in dept right now with my private loan of 14,000 haven’t send a payment in a couple of years but they keep sending mail I recently received a letter that they will settle for 5,000 does that affect you in any way would it come back to me. I want to buy a house so would it affect me if a settle with them?

    • Thomas Bright

      Settling a debt will have a negative impact on a credit score, but so will missed payments and a delinquent status. It’s hard to know which situation will hit your score hardest, but whatever you choose, you need to reestablish a positive on-time payment history as soon as possible so you can pursue your goal of owning a home.

      Best of luck.

  • Why do we have to pay for education, education should be fully government funded. I’m just saying 99.9% of the time after you graduate you need 2 to five years experience to get a job in your degree field. It just makes no sense to me, people it’s hard finding employment be very careful what you go to college for, without the experience you basically have nothing but bills.



    • Thomas Bright


      if you haven’t already, try talking to the collection agency to explain your situation in full. you may be able to make arrangements with them that are favorable. If that occurs, be sure to get the agreement in writing. You may want to consult legal advice as well.

      Good luck to you.

  • Kaitlyn H.

    I read the article and a few of the many, many comments on here.
    I have tried going through this place called Trusted Debt Solutions to get both my Fed Loans and Sallie Mae loans consolidated because it’d be easier to pay one person instead of figuring out how to pay three people on what I make (which isn’t much anyways). My mom and I have both talked to Sallie Mae about lowering their payments after the six months was up. Prior to that, I was paying 25$ a month on one of the loans. Then it jumped to 800$. At that time, only made about 400$/ month. I called them to see if they could lower it and they weren’t able to go any lower than 600/ month. I called them before calling the people at TDS and told them again what was going on with my finances and all and how I wasn’t able to pay what they wanted me to. They wouldn’t lower it any at that time either, claiming that we could make the payments necessary (and that was told to me by one of the managers). When he transferred me back over to the girl I was talking to, she told me that I definitely wasn’t able to pay what they wanted me to and was sad that they really couldn’t do anything more about it.
    So I card these people at TDS, and hearing that Sallie would be dealt with among the other loans I have, I thought that’d be awesome. Now I come to find out after everything has been sent in that they don’t deal with Sallie Mae loans. I have emailed them, but my past history with Sallie Mae as far as lowering my payments hasn’t been much help. Should I still try or what?

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Kaitlyn,

      I’m sorry to hear about what you are going through. I wish I had better advice, but my only real suggestion here is to continue communicating with Sallie Mae, and document your overall financial situation for them. In addition, please be careful when working with any third parties. You should definitely check with the BBB first, and after looking up the company you referenced, it looks like they have an “F” rating. It sounds like you have moved on from them, but you’ll just want to be extra careful moving forward.

  • Joe Johnston

    Hi Thomas,

    I secured 3 private loans from Sallie Mae to obtain my Masters degree in seminary. I currently work full-time as a teacher and part-time as a youth pastor. I have made regular payments, but haven’t made much headway to actually pay them off. I feel like there’s an option out there for reducing payment for educators that could apply to me, but I am not aware of it. Thoughts?

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Joe,
      I don’t know much about programs like that for private loans (though there are quite a few for federal loans), and I doubt there are many, unfortunately. You might check with teacher groups in your locality or state, and might look into bigger organizations like AFT ( Also, if your credit is good, refinancing might be a good way to go here, so be sure to look into that as well.

      Best of luck.

  • Here is my suggestion I’ve read a lot of the first few pages and it seems a lot of us are in the same situation that salie Mae will not lower payments so that there is more stability within the lower income brackets at this point I’m at ends with them and I’m resigned to the fact that if a lump sum of money happens to come by or maybe a new job with great income or perhaps by some miracle I am able to amass money to make payments, I will refer to the governments standard for currency regulation which validates pennies as an acceptable and also federally backed currency and I will repay my salie Mae private loan off in pennies, truck loads of pennies thousands of pennies! then sit back and watch them count for at this point they have wasted large amounts of my time and money and since I feel like all I pay is fees and more fees trying to get even this way I at least get to feel like I get my monies worth

  • Hi Everyone,

    I am so glad that I found this website. I have a private loan with Sallie Mae, Navient now holds the loans. I had 3 separate loans and one of them is in default and sold to a collection agency. I know my credit is already damaged. The collection agency agreed to settle one loan that had a balance of 2400 to 1380. My other two loans with Navient are still with them and in forebearance and I am making payments on those. Navient’s collection agency gave me 30 days to pay the 1380 or else I would be responsible for the whole amount. My question is, I do have the 1380 and plan on paying that. I was contemplating paying off the entire 2400, but does it really matter at this point if I do? My intention with any extra money I had was to put that towards my other loans that are not in a negative status. I know the damage is done, but if paying off the full 2400 would help a little of the damage control, that was my plan. I tried to negotiate with Navient to put on my credit report-settled; but they wont so it will say “settled as agreed-less than balance owed.” Any advice will be appreciated

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Lexi,

      Sorry to hear about the trouble you’re having, but at least it seems like things are starting to move in a positive direction. If Navient has already said they absolutely won’t report the debt as “settled” instead of “settled as agreed-less than balance owed,” then the only benefit to paying the full $2400 balance is a moral one. Some people take that aspect very seriously, so it’s up to you. One other thing you might try is sending a written request about adjusting the credit report status (do this before you pay them, if there is still time). You’d be surprised, but those requests are much more likely to be answered/accepted when you correspond via paper mail.

      If that doesn’t work, it may be in your best interest to pay the $1380 and then put the rest to the loans in forebearance. Please keep in mind that this is just my good faith advice, based on what I know of your situation.

      Best of luck!

  • Allison

    My husband and I are deeply distraught over these student loans. We went to buy our first house and found that his credit score was not great. Long story short we found out his parents took out 100k in sallie mae loans (that are now under navient). My husband was unaware at the time of the amount because they just sent him what was needed for school. After a long talk with his mother she admitted they used the student loan money on 2 vacations to Colorado, laptops for their other two children, and the building of a two story garage at their home. From what I gather, since my husband’s name is on these loans there is really no legal way out of the way it was spent. In short, his parents have divorced and they are no longer able or willing to pay on these loans. There is absolutely no way we can afford to pay these off. We have 2 young children, a house, and what we thought was a comfy future. I don’t know what to do.

    • Thomas Bright


      I’m so sorry to hear about the situation and the nasty surprise you have encountered. If you haven’t already, you might consider meeting with a lawyer to talk about the situation in more detail.

  • I have student loans with Sallie Mae that are now with Navient. My original loan was $25K and because of interest due to forbearance/hardship at different times in my life, my loans are almost at $60K. I would like to negotiate a lump sum payment to Navient for my student loans to remove interest. Is this something I can do or should i contact an attorney. My payments resume next month and are over $800 a month, which is unreasonable.
    I appreciate any help/advice in this matter.

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Marie,

      Yes, I recommend contacting them with specifics about your situation, including documentation of your income. I’m not sure whether you will be able to negotiate a lump sum payment, but they may present some options to you if you can articulate your needs appropriately.

  • It’s definitely been difficult when college has gotten so expensive during the same time the housing bubble burst so lenders are more stringent all around and the employment rate its so high. If the economy gets better, the student loan hardship wouldn’t be so rough to bear, but we need to fix the student loan crisis to improve the economy. My monthly dilemma is pay student loan or move forward with my life (get a house or apartment, etc). This has really stopped my generation (Millennials) from moving forward.

  • I have $75,000 from ACS (private) and $60,000 from unsub/sub Federal loans from Navient. Since I have an MSW from Rutgers where they screwed me over and I can’t do squat with my graduate degree (non profit and public management track of MSW – not clinical), I’m so overwhelmed. I’m on IBR for the federal loans since I haven’t had a full year of making more than $40,000. But the problem I’m having is with ACS. Getting out of school, I couldn’t find a job because I wasn’t clinical SW and didn’t have a perfect driving record (as a social worker you NEED a perfect driving record btw). So I pay $521 a month just for the private loans and since I’ve had unstable employment (I have Borderline Personality Disorder), I’ve saved and scraped just to not default as I used up all my forbearance allowed right after graduation. ACS compounds interest daily so the only way to pay ahead straight to the principle is to pay the additional as close to the payment date as possible. Any suggestions? I can’t go into the PeaceCorp/Americorp or Teach for America, I’d applied after grad school and didn’t get in to any of them. I want to work and be able to pay my bills, but I can’t seem to get a job I’m worth and keep it.

    • Thomas Bright


      Sorry to hear about what you’re going through. the advice here might sound generic, but your best bet (in my opinion) is to keep doing everything you can to spend more and save less. Continue to contact ACS to ask for better arrangements. Consider mailing them like the article describes and documenting your income situation thoroughly. On top of that, if you can get a stable nonprofit job, you may qualify for federal loan forgiveness, which would enable you (more than likely) to put more cash toward the private loans.

  • Michelle


    I just want to share my student loan nightmare story and see if you could possibly give me any advice. I have almost $125,000 in student loan debt. I currently work for a non-profit organization and make rough $35,000 a year. Its the only job I can get right now and I’m trying to work with it. Sallie May/Navient has actually been helpful in allowing me to pay back my student loans. I have not had a problem with them yet. The other very large loan I have which accounts for the majority of my problems is with NJ Higher Education. The loan I have with them is $99,999. It is broken into 4 different loans which need to be paid monthly. I was making payments of around $930 with help from my parents. They would pay $600 and I would pay $300 because that is all I could afford. I live with my parents and pay them $725 in rent every month. I have to buy my own food and pay my own expenses (car insurance, cell phone, etc.). They are not cutting me any breaks to live with them. I recently found out that my parents missed 7 months of loan payments and it was about to go into default. I personally checked the account and realized I had $6500 to pay back in 1 month. Obviously I was not able to pay that in 1 month because I could barely afford $300 a month. So I asked to be put in forbearance which was approved. After the fact, I found out that the loan payment (after my forbearance was complete) would be higher than my original rate. Are they kidding me? So I agreed to make interest payments on my loan and I would need to pay interest on 1 loan monthly and on the other 3 loans I would pay it quarterly (every 3 months). I just saw my monthly loan interest payment on the 1 loan and it is $988.07 which is more than my original monthly payment.

    Not sure if you’ve heard other storied from NJ Higher Education but they are absolutely awful. I have been on the phone with them in tears, not able to breath pleading my case and all they can say is we need the payment in 30 days. I honestly don’t know what to do anymore. My loan payment is due April 9 and I am not able to pay it. What are my options? I have tried to decrease the payment amount but they wont do that because the loan has been passed due. I have tried paying the back payments in a 6 month period but they will not do that. They will literally not do anything to help me.

    Any advice you could give would be much appreciated!



    • Thomas Bright

      That is definitely a tough situation to be in and I’m so sorry to hear that you haven’t had a great experience with the lender. I really wish I had some great, groundbreaking advice for you here but I’m afraid I don’t. You’ve been doing all the right things by calling to talk to them. So the next step might be to send a letter (like the blog post suggests). That might get you into a more formal process. Consider documenting your income and expenses too, because when they see the math, they might be more inclined to understand that you really can’t make the payments. Also, if you feel as if you’ve been treated unfairly, please be sure to reach out to the CFPB.

      Hoping your luck takes a turn for the better very soon!

  • My wife and I both became doctors. We did not come from wealthy families, no one in our family was a doctor and I worked a full time in high-school, 2 full time jobs in college. My college alone was $38,000, Masters degree was $32,000 and medical school with coverage for housing and food was $225,000. After 4 years of deferment because of making $32,000 and working over 80 hours a week with my wife and raising children at 3.99% I owed over $375,000. After my wife’s loans we owed over $650,000. That is not a misprint. Our income was good but after paying $60,000 a year just towards loans and about $25,000 was just interest, House payment, 3 kids in school, etc.. we had about $400 a month to live on. After becoming disabled due to cancer and having an immune deficiency syndrome, I cant practice medicine so the best job I can get cuts my pay by over 70%. We cant afford payment and they wont help. How do you pay $600,000 when I cannot practice medicine after spending 12 years of my life studying preparing and giving everything. This will take 50 years and with the interest its impossible. this country does not help those who improve their education in all fields. Teacher, doctors, PHD individuals etc.. They do not pay private loans even if you served in under serviced areas, free clinics, volunteered, donated, payments are not tax deductible. the only thing this teaches you is to learn a trade and begin out of highschool.

  • Vickie Gargus

    I have been dealing with Sallie Mae for 4 years now and I am disgusted with the way you are treated sometimes and certainly they can Never help make anything better. The End!

    My total loan payments are over 800.00 per month and I only make about 42 per year. I have asked for options from Sallie Mae and I am never eligible for anything except to pay interest only for 2 years at a time and this is what I have had to do. I have asked so often to please just lower my payments and let some of what I am paying go to the payment instead of just interest but every time they have refused. I am no longer eligible for interest only payments (thank goodness) but I honestly do not know how I am going to pay the 800 per month and survive. Yes they helped for school purposes when I took the loans out and it is certainly not their fault that my income is so low but they also told me that if I could not make the monthly loan that they could always lower my payments and work with me as long as I was paying on them. Every time I ask for such help they tell me that maybe that’s the way it was when I took out the loans but they can’t do that any longer. I am 60 years old and there is NO WAY I can ever pay these loans off and I barely survive.

    Sallie Mae (now Navient) has hurt me more than they care to help. I have explained to them what a hardship this is and if they could just help me out for a couple of years by lowering my payments that I may could start paying what they want with a little more ease. Their reply was that I should have thought about this before taking the loans out, We can’t help you!

    Lost and confused about how I can survive.

  • Giselle

    Hi, Thomas. I have a private student loan through Sallie Mae and my grandmother is the cosigner. The monthly payments that we agreed upon are still just way too high. Im only working part-time and they constantly call me and my grandmother about payments. I pay them when I can but sometimes I just cant do it. They told me my loan would go into default if I didnt pay. But I looked on my credit report and its already in default. But Sallie claims that when i start making payments that “default” wont appear on the credit report anymore. Is that true? Also, can Sallie Mae actually have my grandmothers SSI check garnished? ….If I pay what I can, my loan would probably still go into default, right? BUT they wouldnt be able to garnish any of my taxes if I am actually making small payments (even if its not the agreed amount), right? Hope this makes sense.

    Thank you!!!

  • My parents passed away, and four years later Sallie Mae sent my $50,000 student loan to collections because my mother was a co-signer and I failed to notify them within 4 days of her passing(last thing on my mind!). I’ve NEVER missed a payment on my loan in the 9 years I’ve held it and have excellent credit. They put me in an absolute panic sending me letters that it had to be paid in full within 10 days. I called and they were awful on the phone, told me there was no way around it, it was due in full immediately. I called a lawyer, who requested a copy of my promissory note. They in return sent one that was not mine, and did not have my signature. After that they’ve never said another word and have continued to take my payments as usual. Talk about bullying.. my loan has since moved to Navient.

    • Thomas Bright

      Jen, so sorry to hear that! Without a doubt, that would have been the last thing on your mind after your loss. Thank you for sharing this information–hopefully others will see it, maybe even lenders, and get a better understanding of how unfair the system can be sometimes.

      I would HIGHLY recommend contacting the CFPB and filing a formal complaint about this as well. Especially because your promissory note was not returned, there may be something they can do, and they should be able to investigate it more thoroughly–they take these complaints very seriously. If you do, please let us know how it goes.

      Best of luck to you.

  • My private loan is at a much higher interest rate than my federal loans. Due to timing and the economy, my “fixed” interest rate may be higher than what private lenders are currently offering. Are there programs or banks that will offer to buy my loan even if I only get a 2% break in interest percentage?

  • Harper

    Hi, I am in default on private loans. I have been in default for many years. I would like to make payments but the collection company EIS (Estate Information Services) was not helpful. I owe $73,000 in the private loans alone and much more than that for federal loans (I entered into a rehabilitation for those). I do not know how to negotiate with the company. Do you have any experience or advice? Thanks.

    • Thomas Bright

      My best advice is to have income documentation handy and relay your situation to them in detail via phone. You may also want to provide copies of income documentation so they understand what you can reasonably pay.

  • My daughter currently has several private loans thru Sallie Mae, do you know wether these loans can be consolidated?

  • Angela

    Hello Thomas,

    I was recently told by a coworker that if you offer a loan company cash to pay off the loan, you can pay it off for a lower price. For example offering 2500 dollars cash for a loan that totals 3000. Is that true? would some loan companies take a lost of a few hundred dollars to get the loan paid in full.

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Angela,
      Situations like that are typically referred to as “settlement” and yes it does happen. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, this strategy is rarely if ever used (or accepted by lenders) for student loans. Secondly, when this agreement is accepted it is usually only after many months of delinquency and thus a lot of damage has probably already been done to your credit.

      -If you’re capable of paying your loan, you will need/want to do so in full.
      -If you’re struggling, be sure to pursue every other option and hardship program first, before trying settlement.
      -Whatever you do, avoid using a “debt settlement” company (here’s an article to explain why) and only try settlement in your own negotiations with the lender.

      Best of luck to you!

  • Christina

    Hi there, I’m so greatful to have found this site!! Here is my situation: I am single, without children, and make 50k/year. I have roughly 50k in student loan debt (not bad for undergrad and masters). Two of my loans are federal and manageable, about $350 per month combined. I have a third loan serviced through Navient (formerly Sallie Mae, I guess) that is making my monthly payments unmanageable at $300 per month, making my total student loan payments $650 per month. I have a mortgage and other obligations, which they do not take into consideration. After reaching out to them, I was essentially told that there is nothing I can do. The loan balance is 11k with a 9% interest rate. In the big picture, that is a tiny loan..but I do not have 11k kicking around to pay the loan off. Do I have any options for better managing this loan? Thank you, and forgive me if the answer to my question is already in this forum!

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Christina,
      That’s a great question, and I’m sorry to hear that they aren’t more willing to work with you. Right now, if you have good credit, one of your best options might be to explore refinancing. We cover some of the best ways to do that in this article.

      That method should help make things more comfortable for you on a monthly basis.

      Best of luck!

  • maricruz

    I currently have a private loan with Sallie Mae now navient. I started with 10,000 and currently in debt with 8,900. It shows I have 3diffrent loans with 3diffrent interest rates that seems like I don’t make any payments. I graduated since 2010 as an m.a. I was employed for almost a year but had health problems and was laid off since then I haven’t been in the health field. I have heard all those rumors saying why Sallie Mae sold to now navient. And also how Corinthian colleges paid employers to hire graduates for a short time and then fire them. Its unbelievable how it may be true. I was wondering if that would help me in any way. I am looking for any help in paying or getting loan forgiveness. I currently have a part time and also with other credit card debts that sometimes leave me with no money in my pocket. Living paycheck by paycheck and am trying really hard for this financial difficulty to affect my 3yr old daughter. I need financial help please!

    • Thomas Bright

      I’m really sorry to hear about this tough situation. I would recommend going through a free student loan counseling session. Your counselor can make suggestions about your student debt and how to better manage the credit cards too. Also, I’m not sure what your degree is in, but you might be able to find repayment programs in your field. For example, if you were a nurse you could apply to programs that pay back a certain percentage of your student loans if you work in a qualifying hospital.

      Best of luck to you!

  • Lauren

    As an undergraduate I took out a substantial amount of private loans which now total approximately $119,000.00. I am currently in a graduate program that is 8 years long where I receive a medical degree and a PhD (MD/PhD). What I didn’t know was that my loans are only eligible for a 48 month in school deferment and I already used a short forebearance before returning to graduate school. When I called Navient (loans were originally sallie Mae) I was told there was no forebearance or deferment left. My payment is 930.00$ a month, which I cannot afford being in school and I also have a 14 month old son. They told me they could further increase the years of the loan so my payment would be 550$ a month, but I can’t even afford that. Is there any way around this? Are there any programs for medical students who have training much longer than 48 months? I don’t even know where to turn at this point.

    • Thomas Bright

      Lauren, sorry to hear about that! MD/PHD is an impressive degree and one that takes a while to earn. You would think that the lender would be more understanding. Lucky for you, there are a lot of programs for doctors and medical students to refinance their loans into programs that are much more reasonable. I would check out this article about refinancing student loans and explore some of the resources there.

      Good luck!

  • Hi, I’m a new grad. I decided to go back to college for a second bachelors degree in nursing but because of this decision I now owe close to $200,000 in student debt, of which $100,000 is with Sallie Mae. can you please give me advise to reduce my student loans or any tips or advise will be really appreciated. thank you 🙂

    • Thomas Bright

      I suggest researching programs for nursing students specifically. There might be some groups out there that can help, or even some employers that help with your loans as an added benefit. Other than that, you should really be focused on minimizing your expenses and maximizing your income. It sounds generic, but it’s really what’s required to pay these off. Try to leverage any flexibility Sallie Mae will offer, too.

  • Hi,

    I am needing some help. I have Sallie Mae student loans and Ive been fighting hard to pay them off but it seems like I am getting no where. Currently my private loans are at $76,000. I went to the Art Institute schools for a degree and got nothing. I was forced to drop out, and these past years have been hard. Just in the last 2 years Ive been getting back on my feet. But this stress has caused it where I am not suffering for Major Depression and required to have a emotional assistance animal to help ease the stress.

    The loans are racking up and I don’t know what I should do. Even though I have progressed in the career I have worked on trying to get a degree in. I just don’t think I can keep going.

    I have been on Sallie Mae’s reduced repayment program. I have a co signer but he wants nothing to do to help. Honestly he wants off the loans and I don’t blame him. I would like to get him off of them too, but I can’t keep up with payments.

    I have credit card payments to make ))they are SUPER low since I ONLY use them for taking care of my pet to help with the depression, my car loan is super low since they know I have student loans and they have worked with me awesomely to help, and I still have to pay for my basic living of Rent, food, power, etc.

    Ive tried contacting many places for help, and I know I can get help on the federal & Department of Education loans.

    But what about the private?

    My Fed and DOE is $58,165

    What can I do….I need help…

    Just feels like no matter how much I pay I will never get ahead or even…..

    What should I do?

    I know the Art Institutes have court cases against them and they took advantage of me being so young and having me take classes that teachers did nothing or pointless classes I did not even need.

    Help? Or a direction on how I should go?

    • Thomas Bright

      Sorry to hear about the struggles you are going through–that definitely sounds like a tough situation. You are doing the right things by contacting all of your lenders and getting them to make special arrangements. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about your options with the Art Institute, but I wouldn’t rely on them paying you back or on legal action being the answer. Instead, I think you should find ways to maximize the amount of money you can put toward your loans each month, which might involve a change in living arrangements and other spending habits. Honestly, based on the numbers you gave here, money is going to be tight, so you will want to create a very structured budget (our counselors can help with that if you’d like). If there’s anyway you can make more income too (maybe complete your degree at a cheaper institution?) that could be a good path to take.

      Best of luck, and I really think you are a god candidate for one of our free budget counseling sessions. There’s probably a lot more detail than you were able to give here, and I know our counselors would be glad to help.

  • Judy A.

    Does Sallie Mae allow a person to double up on their monthly principal payments (i.e. utilizing an amortization schedule) and just pay one interest payment? Looking to payoff the loan early if possible.

    • Thomas Bright


      I’m not sure about “one interest payment.” Since it accrues daily, you will always be paying toward some level of interest.

  • Yippeeitsme

    I’m late to the party but the fact that there are actual replies makes me want to try. I had $80k in private loans through Sallie Mae which has ballooned to around $150k. If I knew at 19 what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it, but that’s irrelevant and I don’t believe I should feel guilt and anxiety for the rest of my life for that mistake. I have occassionally come close to default or defaulted in the past but managed to get in school deferments or forbearances so that my loans show as current at the moment. However, they want a $740/month payment. I paid last months ($680) and this month they now want $730. I could make this payment but I can’t afford it again and I feel like I would just be throwing away $700+ that I could use towards actual expenses.

    I applied for interest only to at least delay huge payments until I complete my Master’s program and (hopefully) have a bit more income. They denied it, saying my loans were ineligible as they are not within the first 5 years of repayment. Nowhere on the form was this noted. I believe since they are private they are now denying my in-school deferment, saying it is only valid for 48 months.

    I own my home and have very minimal credit card debt (under $1000, which I pay off regularly). I do not have any other expenses I can cut, unless I want to stop eating food, and I don’t think that would be healthy for anyone, my kids included. My credit score is ~750 currently. The payment is due in a couple of days and I have no idea what to do. Pay it? Pay some? Ignore it and force them to start harassing me via phone so they MIGHT work with me? I don’t know what the wisest thing to do is at this point. I was going to just bite the bullet and pay $680/month to show a good faith effort to repay should bankruptcy ever be an option, but it’s going nowhere, doesn’t make a dent in the ridiculous balance, and makes it difficult to pay my actual living expenses.

  • Jennifer


    I’m hoping you may have some suggestions for my particular situation. My husband has around $100,000 in private and federal student loans. The private student loans are through many companies, including Sallie Mae, Discover, and Wells Fargo. The payments total more than $1300 per month and we cannot afford the payments. My husband didn’t graduate with his bachelor’s degree as planned. His parents co-signed on the private loans, so when applying for lower payments or other programs he does not quailify. They tell him that his parents are able to pay and are obligated to. His parents refuse to assist him with making payments and would rather take the hit to their credit. We are at a loss on what to do. We are already having a hard time paying necessary bills, such as rent and utilities and are scared that they will garnish wages and we will be unable to make ends meet. We pay what we can, when we can, but it is not enough. Sallie Mae especially has given us a hard time. They call both my husband and his parents several times a day, every day. When my husband does speak with them, they do not want to take anything less than what is due. If you can offer any advice, it would be most appreciated. Thank you.

  • Matt R

    I appreciate the information in your article. My wife has $35,000 in private loans. She is getting hit with 3 different interest rates on this total (although she makes one $400 payment per month)that equal almost 30%. After paying for over 5 years, she is barely below $30,000. It’s a huge ripoff and Wells Fargo denied us. She will never get this balance paid off. It is very frustrating.

  • Thanks for the article and replies, that teach so much, with respect to the DISRESPECT given to borrowers!
    Unlike most of the replies left, I’m not the borrower, but the mother of. My son’s Sallie Mae and Citi Bank loans were rolled into a home equity loan on my home (for which he makes the monthly payments), to give him a reasonable loan rate and ability to get away from the vipers at Sallie Mae. Two checks totaling $34,000 were mailed directly from the credit union to Sallie Mae. Somehow, SM managed to reverse the payments, leaving a dangling balance for one of the loans, but never giving a credit for the one they overpaid with the wrong check. (SM however…never COULD figure out which loan was the culprit. Really?) A YEAR after payments were made(2010) my son received a statement for $1700, with the first payment due in 2018. I took over since he had moved across the country to secure employment. AS SOON as I inquired, which started a 3-yr battle with SM, the statements started coming with payments demanded immediately! What happened to the “first payment due in 2018” NEVER was answered–as was the case for everything I asked. There was NO WAY to speak to a supervisor, just the script-reading reps. I never spoke to the same person twice, so EVERY TIME I called…I had to start from the beginning. While trying to resolve this issue, getting my credit union VP involved, the $1700 grew to a $2100 balance! Out of sheer desperation to stop the bleeding, I paid off the NOW $2200 and climbing balance, hoping to be reimbursed once someone with a brain in their head resolved this. F O R G E T I T. This organization is by far the most criminal and cunning. I’m totally disgusted with the whole college tuition/loan-theft mentality in an economy that offers NOTHING for our future generations. Crushing debt, followed by rampant unemployment in the once greatest nation on earth… God help us.

  • Great site; have gotten some interesting information here.. thanks for doing this!

    My son has approximately 110K in student loans- about 30K is federal, and we’ve managed to get that consolidated into a manageable monthly payment. Discover and Sallie Mae? Not so much. Between the two, they want nearly 900 a month. He can’t afford that- he makes more than minimum wage, but nothing that would support a payment like that.

    We’ve done all the right things- gone the forbearance route initially, and he’s been in steady contact with Sallie Mae, trying to get something worked out. They flat out refuse to work with him. I guess I should qualify that- he’s had several Sallie Mae reps tell him there are programs and options for him to utilize through them, and that when the forbearance is up, talk to the reps about those options. Forbearance is over.. and interestingly enough, no one has a clue what he’s talking about when he names these programs. Discover forbearance is up in a month, and so far, they won’t discuss anything since the forbearance isn’t over.

    What really confuses me is that a portion of his Sallie Mae loans are federal. How is that possible? I helped him with the Salle Mae loans, and thought they were all federal, especially given that the first 2 were. At some point, I’m fairly certain someone (possibly the school) led us to believe that Sallie Mae was actually a government program. Lesson learned.

    I am not in a position to help him financially- and he absolutely can’t make those kinds of payments. I’ve told him something is better than nothing, and to make payments based on what he can afford. I’ve also told him to use money orders and mail them in- I’ve heard far too many horror stories about these companies “accidentally” withdrawing too much from archived banking information (on the payment websites).

    Sallie Mae is calling my phone as many as 15 times a day. I’m not on the loans, I’m just his mom. My father co-signed the loans- and he is in a nursing home, completely unable to discuss any of this, or be of any assistance. Sallie Mae is calling my parents’ home phone repeatedly every day as well- even after being told my father is in a nursing home and dying. My mother is NOT on any of these loans, and she doesn’t need this harassment from them. If nothing else, is there anything we can do to get them to leave my mother alone? I know my son can’t expect miracles when it comes to the payments, but it’d be nice to know that my mother doesn’t have to deal with these people harassing her over something she’s not part of.

    After seeing the mess my son is in, I’ve got to wonder if there’s any point in going to school- most kids graduate and can’t get decent paying jobs WITH the degree, let alone without. Don’t get me wrong, I get the value of having an education.. I’m just incredibly frustrated that there aren’t better regulations regarding ALL student loans. These companies need a reality check. They’re handing money out like its candy, and they have to know that the vast majority of those loans are going to go into default.

    Thanks again for the site and info.. and for letting me vent a little bit along with asking a couple of questions.

  • Hello,

    I have both Sallie Mae and ACS loans, both private and gov’t backed for both companies, well over 250k combined. Since graduating several years ago, work has been spotty. I mostly do contract work and the rate of pay varies. Here is my question: Most of the year I worked a lower rate of pay, then went entirely off work for well over a month, and just started a project with a higher rate of pay that will end in Dec. All my loans will come out of the various repayment programs during this time. I am scared they will ask me for much higher payments that I wont have the cash for as I have to pay back things from when I wasn’t working. I have a lower income then usual for my job and the payments are already difficult for me.

    I know you have stated several times that it is always better to pay back your loans, and I completely understand that. But is there a certain point, where if your loans are high enough, it might not be the best option? I do not make enough to pay off my student loans at any point in the next 20/25 years, and I have been paying for several years with no real dent made in them. – in fact, the loans have ballooned instead. I’m just wondering if paying crippling payments my entire life may be worse then simply having my credit ruined?

  • Why dont the multitudes of all students with crushing debt organize and refuse to pay off these loans?
    Do not pay your loans until the banks agree to cut your loans substantially.
    If you are united, you can get things done.

  • Jill H

    I have private loans with several different lenders, and three were in the amount of 20K. Their terms seemed pretty much the same and I do automatic payments for over the loan amount on all three. I went to check on them today and two are paid down to 14K, which is reasonable, but Sallie Mae says it is 18.5K! I wrote them to see how this is even possible with paying several years on them and theirs is apparently calculated so differently.
    From my dealings with SM, I would strongly advise students to to with any other lender for private loans than
    SM. They are not helpful and their lending practices are meant to keep your balance high for years so that you never pay it off. They were all low interest rates and the other two are fairly calculated so I will keep them and pay SM off after seeing how they calculate the interest and apply the payment. In my opinion they are worse than loan sharks.

  • My sister is currently trying to fight her loan. Her college shut down without letting any of the students know and got no help from the school to find a job and now she is in 15000 debt with sallie mae. Any ideas on what she can do?


    • Thomas Bright

      Those situations are always so strange (and certainly unfair). I think she needs to stay in close contact with anyone from the school that might have more information, along with Sallie Mae and the CFPB.

  • Carrie

    Reading through all the comments have confirmed my thoughts about Sallie Mae–they are PURE EVIL CRIMINALS!! I, too, have experienced the same rehearsed speeches from the shady representatives who can barely speak English. I have asked for them to send me a copy of my Promissory Note for the TUITION ANSWER–which they no longer offer (I wonder why??)–and they sent me details of the loan program, NOT my original signed copy.

    They don’t budge AT ALL with your monthly payments. The only thing for private loans are Extended Pay and Interest Only Pay, which only offer up to 4 years and then they go right back up to standard repayment. I tried their so-called Forbearance. What a joke!! I had to PAY $100 for a measly THREE MONTHS, and then of course they add tons to the balance. (What part of “I don’t have any money!” did they not get?)

    I borrowed $15k one year, and like an idiot, I borrowed another $15k. It was easy. No credit checks, no school certification. I checked the original loans disbursed amount on the website and it looks like they added $975 to each of the $15k loans before disbursing them. WTF?? I KNOW I only asked for an even amount each time. That’s why I asked for the Promissory Note copy. The fact they did not or could not provide this, I wonder if I have any obligation to pay them anything at all since they don’t even offer this option (Tuition Answer) anymore?!

    My monthly payment (at Interest Only Pay currently until January 2015!) is $374. That may seem like nothing, but I have a car payment $235/mo, a Federal Loan now in repayment $87/mo, and a credit card $108/mo. (and these are not ALL my bills). The noose is tight, trust me.

    Will Sallie Mae garnish wages if I go into default, or do they just send it to Collections? Not that I want to default, but jeez, life happens!! I just got married, want to have kids eventually, just started a new job I’m not so sure is gonna work out (but very thankful I have one!). I also want to know if I have fair credit (about 650?) if I would even be able to refinance this monstrous $47k loan?

    I hope to hear from SOMEONE that can give me advice other than “bite the bullet.” How long must someone suffer for a stupid mistake? Trust me, I will NEVER borrow money again! I guess if anyone hasn’t borrowed yet, let all these comments be a lesson to you!


    • Thomas Bright

      Sorry to hear about the difficulties you are having. You can have wages garnished if you default on your loan, and the additional ding to your credit will make refinancing options less realistic. It sounds like a refinance could be worth pursuing, whether with your current credit score or after a few months of trying to improve it. There’s a link in the article to another refinancing article with lots of helpful info.

      • Carrie

        Thank you for responding and advice. I forgot to check back here! Meanwhile, 2 years later, I have been trying to pay this, having to split $239 every two weeks when I get paid. It hasn’t even made a dent. I am still pursuing refinancing options, but because of my credit, those are slim chances as well. I have to bite the bullet for now because it WAS my mistake and foolishness. However, I will not give up in my quest to destroy these criminals.

  • I borrowed 40,000 from sallie Mae about 8 years ago at an interest rate of 9.7% they have now added over 100,000. yes 100,000 in just interest. they want a 1800.00 a month payment. I’ve talked to over 30 people including managers etc to tell them that payment would be almost my entire monthly income. and that I could do 600.00 a month payment. not one person would budge or help me so I ended up filing chpt 13 to get relief for at least 5 years. after I filed I got a call from sallie Mae stating they would do a 600.00 a month payment. well to late now. I’m at a loss at what to do with sallie Mae. they are not my only student loans I also got federal loans. help.

    • Thomas Bright

      Sorry to hear about that, Nicole. Is it definitely to late to back out of the bankruptcy option and accepted their offer? If you have some federal loans, definitely leverage your options there and get them on payment plans, such as the income-based so that they won’t be as much of a burden.

  • Thomas – Based on your responses, I’m going to assume that you’ve never had the pleasure of doing business with Sallie Mae. While I appreciate what you’re trying to do here, telling the unfortunate soul who has signed away their life and their credit to Sallie Mae to “just keep trying, keep in contact” – you don’t understand how god-awful these people are. I mean zero disrespect, but I’ve personally been living my own Sallie Mae hell for the past 4 years and am all too familiar with wasting hours on hold, being transferred only to be hung up on and have to start all over again. I’ll be the first to admit that at 19 I didn’t have a CLUE what I was getting myself into when I took out these loans – I never had a car loan, I didn’t even have a credit card – but Sallie Mae made it incredibly easy for me to get thousands of dollars, year after year with no co-signer (thank god for my parents!) I expected to graduate college, land a good job and have no problem paying back my loans – unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I was blessed my part-time retail job offered me full-time after graduation so I didn’t have to move back home, but $10 an hour doesn’t get you much. Once the grace period was up, all hell broke loose. I qualified for economic hardship deferment for my federal loans based on my salary, Sallie Mae expected a payment of $750 a month. I spent countless hours pleading my case to numerous Sallie Mae reps, begging for a lower payment. I sent in paystubs, tax returns – they weren’t one bit interested that I literally could not afford that payment. I paid what I could each month, a couple hundred bucks, good faith that I was trying. They didn’t care. My phone rang 10 times a day, I received delinquency notices and they reported me as such to every credit bureau every month like clock work. I was literally 7 days from defaulting before I was offered the rate reduction plan. At the time I thought it was a blessing, looking back it was a sham. The stipulations were you have to pay $150 to put the loan in forbearance in order to “bring the loan current” and then you would start making monthly payments. Yes, the payments were lower and the interest rate dropped but I was still strapped trying to make a payment I really couldn’t afford in order to do the right thing. I finally got a new job, making more money (not that much more) and when I was offered the opportunity to do another year on rate reduction program I felt like I was finally getting things back on track. The payment and interest rate went up, I still felt like it was more than I was comfortable with, but I accepted. I never missed a payment during those 2 years. The time came to re-evaluate, it shouldn’t be surprisingly that my expected payment doubled even though my income had stayed the same. Sallie Mae was requesting a monthly payment that was 5 times what my expected IBR federal loan payment. Guess what, I can’t afford it. So I once again became delinquent and all the hard work of the past 2 years went right down the drain with my credit score. I’m 100% done begging, bartering and pleading with these people only to be completely disrespected and treated like criminal. I have minimal credit card debt with perfect payment history but my fiancé had to be the primary on my car loan and I’ll never be able to help him with a mortgage because of the 50+ delinquencies reported by Sallie Mae. Yes, Sallie Mae reports each one of my four loans separately each and every month to every credit report only furthering the blow. So this time, I’m going to let my loan default and I’m not the least bit upset about it. My credit it already completely trashed, I have no property, no assets, so go ahead and use your man power to garnish my wages – the payments will be less than what they currently expect. It’s incredibly sad that after spending days upon days agonizing over what to do the decision that makes the most sense (for me personally) is to accept default, because Sallie Mae literally ignores any attempt at a compromise until you’re already completely screwed. I fully understand that I borrowed their money and they expect it back. I don’t understand why they absolutely will not work with you and insist on a payment you can prove you can’t afford. Maybe they assume since I can’t get a mortgage I can afford a mortgage-sized payment to them each month? All I know is they aren’t getting another dime from me until the courts order it.

    • Thomas Bright

      That’s fair feedback Jess. Thanks for reading and commenting and sharing your story with us. So sorry to hear about the struggles you are having.

  • Thomas,

    Thanks for the really good information. I have a student loan through Discover at a high interest rate (12%). After being in school for 5 years and comparing my original loan balance with the added interest rate (almost $10,000 in just interest) I’ve decide that I am in over my head with trying to repay. I’ve contacted Discover to see if they are willing to reduce my interest rate, unfortunately, I keep receiving the same response “We don’t offer refinancing at this time.” I have federal student loans as well and am under the Income-based repayment plan. Do you have any suggestions how I can have Discover reduce my interest rate? I’m currently in grad school half time so I don’t have to repay my loans, yet. I’ve looked at refinancing at credit unions and other banks, but I need a co-signer which I don’t have. Thanks for your time and reply!

    • Thomas Bright

      Refinancing is definitely the first thing that comes to mind. So I would continue to pursue that as an option. It might be a bit easier once you are out of school and have your own income. Aside from that, you might want to try a different angle with Discover. Maybe you can’t get a lower rate but there is another program you can qualify for? That’s a lot of interest to accrue before you are even out of school, so they may be able to do something for you. I would stay in close contact with them

  • Hello,
    I have a loan with sallie mae and now I am in repayment, I feel like im drowning in debt, the loan is over 110,000 with all variable rates between 3% to 8%. What can I do, I can’t just keep paying the minimum which is over 1000 a month. I want to consolidate, but i’m still going to school to get my mba (NO MORE LOANS there, slow but good). Is it a good idea to consolidate? would that ruin my credit? and what are good consolidation lenders for private loans? I want to keep paying, but paying bringing down the loan, nott it all being minimum payments that don’t cover anything. I don’t gain too much, and I feel they are robing me! every time i’ve called about hardship they don’t help, they are useless, in helping me bring down the interest rates or payments, or even possibly forgive the dumb loans. sigh 🙁 I hope you guys can help me. Thank you!

    • Thomas Bright

      It sounds like refinancing could be a good fit for you, and as an MBA student you will qualify for some programs that are for grad students only. I would certainly look into those. If you have decent or good credit, you should be set for a decent deal there and more manageable payments. We wrote a post about this, which is now linked here in this article above. Good luck!

  • Tiffany

    Hi Thomas,

    I have spent countless hours on the phone with Sallie Mae, I keep in touch. I am current on my account. I have some private and federal loans with them. My private loans alone are approximately $800 a month. I did the forbearance and 12 month rate reduction program paying $421 monthly. I cannot afford to pay my Federal loans so they are currently in forbearance.

    I was told by my rate reduction financial advisor that I could possibly get a lower payment. Only for her to recalculate my income and everything saying that I would now have to pay $451 every month to extend the rate reduction program 12 more months. I told her I could only afford $300… I struggled paying $421 for an entire year. She advised me that they are not an income based program but a stepped based program. What can I do to get my payment lowered to something more manageable for my finances?

    • Thomas Bright


      If your credit is in good standing you might be able to refinance with another lender. That’s the best bet in many cases for private loans. You should be able to choose an option that would get you a lower interest rate, or one that would bring down the monthly payment significantly, but cost more interest. Check out the post we wrote about this, under the student loans category. DO NOT do this with federal loans if at all possible.

  • Justine

    Reading through this article and all the many comments about SallieMae is extremely frustrating to me, because I relate so well. Unfortunately, the “hardship” and other deferment options they offer are extremely hard to qualify for. I was working three part-time jobs when I graduated college in 2011 just to pay my rent and car payments, and almost immediately after the 6 month grace period was up began getting calls several times a day from SallieMae, before I had even been late on a payment. Three years later, I can’t count the number of harassing calls I have received (many of these being from a location in India which apparently did not understand time differences. They would call me at 2 am, 6 am; call, hang up, and call again seconds later repeatedly.) I realize it was my own fault for taking out loans I would not be able to pay. However, I feel that companies, especially SallieMae, capitalize on the fact that there are so many 18 year olds who have no idea what they are doing and take advantage. I was sent dozens of letters offering “easy, hassle free loans,” some that didn’t even need a parent to cosign! Pay for your books, your rent, AND your classes, they said! It sounded fabulous until I was out of school and somehow the degree I paid thousands of dollars for did not get me anything but a terrible credit score.
    Besides the constant calls and sense of regret, I would just like to relay some of the things I was told during my many conversations with SallieMae representatives. Most recently, I was told that two of my three private loans were “really like personal loans for stuff like community college or adult education somewhere, not for real college.” I attended a state university. These loans went towards that school, and nowhere did anything ever say that these loans were not for my particular form of education. Not only did she try to imply just after saying this that I had lied and used the loans for something else, but apparently she thinks that anything other than a four year university is not legitimate, I have been told repeatedly, as a 25 year old woman, that I should just ask my mom and dad for money, or if I have any friends, see if they will loan me a few thousand dollars. I have been asked “just how serious” my relationship with my boyfriend was; was it serious enough that he would pay SallieMae for me? I have been asked detailed questions about exactly hard I’m actually trying to pay-did I try such and such a bank; did I try this credit card company; did I try selling my car? All of these have been suggested and more. I was told to get a smaller apartment. I was told to use coupons at the store. It was once suggested that I must buy too many shoes, probably. I am an irresponsible girl after all.
    The best part is that after they ask you these intrusive questions and make offensive, ridiculous suggestions, and you are forced to tell them every humiliating detail of how and why you are broke, and all the things you do not do and cannot buy in order to still be unable to pay them, they say “I’m sorry, maybe you should take a few days to think of something and then call back.”
    I have definitely learned a lot from this experience, so that is a good thing.

    • Thomas Bright

      Wow, thank you so much for taking this time to share your experiences. I hope these will help others and serve as a good reminder that while communicating with a lender is important, it’s not always a guaranteed solution.

  • who can I contact to rehab a parent plus loan and how can I find out if they are honest and trustworthy? Are there any government agencies that I can contact

    • Thomas Bright

      I would definitely start with your lender directly. They will be most able to help you.

  • When you say ‘shop around’ Where does one go? My credit isn’t what it used to be since I have been making late payments. Would Sallie Mae consider refinancing the loan and not the loan plus interest?

  • Nancy Lindberg

    I co-signed private school loans for my son to pursue his dream of beoming a commercial airline pilot. The private flight school went bankrupt and took a small balance of the loan funds, and my son never finsihsed his flight ratings due to a lack of money. He went to work full time and contracted coccidiomycosis a mold spore disease, and was totally disabled for 11 months. He almost died in fact, and I went into other debt to pay medical costs. My son has recovered and works full time, no options for him to continue his schooling to complete his aviation ratings, and Sallie Mae and AES loan services have done little, I think they deferred payments on the loans for a month, something ridiculous. IF these were federal school loans, they would have been forgiven on teh basis of 1. the school went bankrupt, and 2. Because my son became seriously ill and was unable to complete the program. I co-signed these loans and of ocurse am on the hook until I hit the dirt. I am going on 61, my son’s father left us with nothing which is why I co-signed the loans. I have no savings, and no retirement as I have to pay the school loans and I have supported my children and myself and there is nothing left. Your thoughts would be greatly appreiciated.

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Nancy,

      Wow that is an extremely unfortunate situation, Nancy. I am so sorry to hear that. I definitely see where you are juggling a lot, especially with the medical costs included. You might consider refinancing the student loans to a lower interest rate if you qualify. It’s also probably a good idea to ask your son for as much help as he can give with meeting the payments. If he were to return to school (I know you said that might not be possible) that might also entitle you to some type of deferment or grace period, and it would allow him to earn a higher income. Also, I wonder if any lawsuits were made against the school? That seems like a very unfair situation for you to be stuck in, at no fault of your own. It might be worth speaking to a lawyer about other options that might be available.

  • Alyssa Trombley

    Hi my name is Alyssa. I have a Sallie Mae smart option loan and have been struggling with my payments for the last 4 years. I only took one year of college because I can’t afford to go back. I can never seem to catch up an s when I do something happens and I fall behind again. I have asked if there is something that can be done to make it easier and I’m constantly told no there isn’t. I don’t know what to do. I can’t afford the payments on top of bills. Forbearnce and deferment time is long gone.

    • Thomas Bright

      Sorry to hear that Alyssa. You might look into refinancing, but that will be difficult if your credit score has taken some hits. I would probably recommend consistently calling Sallie Mae, talking to as many people as possible (including managers) and presenting the hard facts of your finances. If you can document that it’s not feasible for you to pay, then they might be able to help you. I know that might sound like generic advice, but it’s really one of the best options that comes to mind.

  • My husband and I are extremely frustrated. We took out a private sallie Mae loan in February 2012 of $6500 so that my husband could attend trucking school. The paperwork stated that the interest rate would be 9.25% (however it “could” go up or down depending on the economy. Ok…..) The loan payments did not start right away. We have now made 21 monthly payments always on time of $124.90 a month. Our balance started at $6500. It is now $5280. When we looked at our payment history we were able to see how much went towards principle and how much to interest. Starting from the very first payment, the interest rate was THROUGH THE ROOF. I averaged the interest rate over the last 21 months and it comes to 47%. (If I am doing it correctly?) There are quite a few months that $80 something dollars of the $124.90 goes directly to the interest!!!!

    Does this seem normal to you? I understand that it says the interest rate can vary, however this seems just plain CRIMINAL!!! We have no problem making the monthly payment, however this loan is never going to be paid off at this rate. This just doesn’t seem “normal” or even “legal” to us. Any I put or advise would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Thank you!

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Jenn,
      Thanks so much for your question, and I can understand why you are frustrated. Paying interest is one of the worst parts of student loans, and a variable interest that goes up and down is particularly frustrating. Let me put your mind at ease right away, and assure you that you have not been paying 47% interest.

      If you made a payment of $124.90 and about $80.00 went to interest, that would mean the interest rate is about 15 percent. Now, at an interest rate of 9.25%, we would expect around $75 or more to go toward the principal.

      The real issue is why this is changing significantly month to month. I would question the lender about how often the interest is changing and make sure that is being handled properly. After two years of payments on a $6500 and 9.25% interest, your principal should be down around $4,500. The fact that it’s higher means they are charging higher on the variable interest spectrum, and you should dig deeper as to why.

      With that said, you are making progress, and much more of it than some people who have private loans. You might want to shop around and see if another lender will refinance the loan at a lower interest rate, because doing that will probably save you up to $800 or so, depending on the new rate you can get.

      Good luck!

  • Sallie Mae sucks

    My fiance started out owing 30,000 in Private and now we are tripled. We work with an awesome company ( law office) who told us Saille mae has scammed a large portion of their clients. They have been awesome in helping us fix our Private loans. They are even fighting to dismiss all his loans due to neglect on Sallie Mae’s part. I found a few sites .. if you guys want to look into this. Wish you all the luck. This company needs to be out of business for scamming everyone.

    • Thomas Bright

      Thank you for sharing those additional resources and information. Wishing you all the best in your repayment and potential legal process.

  • My husband lost his daughter a year ago. 3 years ago he helped her (co-signed) for private consolidation loans to make her student loans more manageable. Now she is gone and we are left paying for her student loans for which she never received a degree. We now owe almost $50,000 in repayment to Sallie Mae which we can not get forgiven due to “private” loans. She was making the payments prior to her passing and now we are left to pay and have 3 other children. We will not be able to help them due to this burden. We have done everything to try and work with the lender to reduce the amount of the payment and have gotten no where. I would not recommend ever going this route. While our credit score is great, it is a burden and debt that continues to strap a house hold.

    • Thomas Bright

      I am so sorry to hear about all that your family is going through. That sounds like a trying situation in many ways. Might I recommend that you look into refinancing those loans with another lender? You might be able to get a much better interest rate, which could lighten the burden. It’s worth considering. Here’s a guide to get you started: How to Refinance Student Loans

      This might benefit others too, so I will add the link to the article here. Wishing you all the best of luck.

  • My name is Eric and I made the mistake as a young man to attend a private film school in Southern California. When I graduated from school in 2007 I was unable to find work for awhile and when I did it was for 8 dollars an hour. I was unable to pay Sallie Mae and used up all of my deferment and forbearance. I finally got somewhat on track at the end of 2012 and signed up for a Sallie may hardship program where I was paying 980 dollars a month. I paid that amount on-time for 15 months then the program went out. When that happened they required that I pay my normal amount of 2500 a month, when I told them I just couldn’t afford that much they told me I would have to wait until my loans were a bit past due then try back. I tried back in the beginning of this month June 2014 and we had worked out a plan for me to pay 1050.00 a month for another 15 months however it needed to be approved by the VP. We scheduled my first payment for today June 27th. However yesterday I received a call from Sallie Mae telling me they were not going to approve the program for me and that I was required to pay the full amount. I asked them what options I had and they informed me that my only option was to pay the full amount. They also asked me what I feel are very inappropriate questions of my parents and their financial situation. I had them cancel all of my payments that had been automatically scheduled until July 31st 2015. Now I am at a loss for what to do. I have done my best to try and pay them back and pay as much as I can as my financial situation improves but it just isn’t enough right now.

    Do you have any suggestions for how I can move forward?

    Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide.

    • Thomas Bright

      I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties. Two things immediately come to mind:
      1) I wonder why they backtracked and changed their minds about the plan they set up for you. The fact that you were so close tells me that there is some flexibility. I would call back and stay firm about obtaining that plan. Ask to speak to the manager (or even the VP who was responsible for approving it). Even if you can’t get that exact deal, maybe you can have something close to it.

      2) What type of inappropriate questions were they asking? That is alarming and something that should be taken to the CFPB as a formal complaint.

      Best of luck and let us know how it goes.

  • Hello,

    After skimming through some of these responses..I can relate to almost all of the situations and find it appalling. It took me almost THREE YEARS to get through to someone at Sallie Mae that wanted to help me. THREE YEARS..I kept being told..well you should pay so you dont default..I actually asked the rep if they’d take monopoly moey or imaginary money to help me from defaulting; but finally Someone calculated my income, expenses and helped to a plan..I just received a letter saying that the plan is ending after a year and my payments are going to go back up, I’m afraid of getting back into thee hole I’ve yet to climb out of because of the ridiculous expectations and interest rates sallie mae charges. They also used to call me 17-19 times a day from 8 am to 9 pm weekends and holidays included. Is this something I could launch a formal complaint on? Also is there ANYTHING being done to warn people about how terrible “student loans ” are. They are not student friendly, or beneficial and you’d be better off with a loan from a bank.

    • Thomas Bright

      All good points Steph, and I’m thrilled that you were able to find someone to help you!As those payments increase again do everything you can to cut expenses and maximize the amount you pay to the loans. If you can keep a positive credit score, you might even be able to refinance the loan outside of Sallie Mae (like with SoFi or another financial institution).

      As for them calling you repeatedly, I would definitely suggest contacting the CFPB to ensure that Sallie Mae is following the rules.

  • Good evening I need HELP I’m recently divorced and have 2 small children (4 &2). I only make about $2000 a month and have private plans through Wells Fargo that my Dad co-signed for. I attended collage about 4 years ago and have not made any pavements on them ( my fault ) now they are trying to come after me and want payments of $650+ a month for 4 years to pay back half $30,000 or they want $1200 form2 years (really own almost $60,000. I just can’t afford this amount. Is there Any programs out there for help me? I can’t ask my Dad he’s living off social security and disability now and my mom doesn’t work. I absolutely can’t not afford for them to garnish my wages . I already live in an apt that’s income based and have no where else to go

    • Thomas Bright

      That’s tough Bre,
      Who is asking for this exactly? If it’s a debt collector, be sure than any arrangement you agree to is IN WRITING. If you are still dealing with the original lender, my best suggestion is to call into them and explain your situation thoroughly, including proof of how much you can pay each month after housing, food, etc. You are in a tight spot but by staying in communication you might be able to reach a more feasible arrangement.

  • I am currently repaying Private loans with Sallie Mae and Wellsfargo, I work a minimum wage job, and the majority of my paycheck goes to them every month, my federal loans are a year away from repayment luckily, and I should be able to do a income repayment plan. But right now I am at a loss, I have about 70 thousand in private student loans, and a wedding planned for next year, no collateral so I can’t even get a consolidation loan, the local credit union said the best they can give me is half my annual income, which is not near enough.

    • Thomas Bright

      That is a very tough situation; I’m sorry to hear that. Just keep doing what you can to cut expenses and minimize income. You might consider continuing to pay what you can and work on improving your credit score so you can get a refinance at better terms one day soon. Hang in there!

  • HI, I have a loan with sallie mae, am still in school, although I had a good job when I applied with sallie mae, I agreed to a monthly payment but not a fixed rate. That was the worst mistake of my life, I have lost my job and still in school while the monthly payment has gone up to $160. I cannot afford this. I will still be needing a loan for my studies and was thinking if I transferred my loan to wells fargo and change the contract to a fixed rate or defer it. is that possible? I don’t know what else to do and sallie mae rep. are not helping, all they ask is are your going to pay with credit or debit?

    • Thomas Bright

      I’m sorry to hear that Mimi. Something like a refinance, moving your loan to another company, etc. could be a good option if they will allow you to do that. I would also suggest continuing to be firm with Sallie Mae on the phone, and try to work out a “grace period” while you are still in school. It sounds like you may have been doing this already, though. Stay assertive and strong and please let us know how you are able to resolve the situation!

  • I am wondering what I can do to help with my Private Sallie Mae student loans. I have a total of $140,000 and I do not have the resources to pay the $1000 a month payment. I was young and dumb financially speaking when I took these out. Now that I have a career and I am trying to figure out how to pay them. As I mentioned It is half of my take home income and I cannot afford to pay my living expenses. If I don’t get some sort of help I will end up defaulting on my loans and have to watch my financial life slip away. I have talked with Sallie Mae many times and they can only offer me interest only payments which over the term of the loan will increase the overall loan. Is there any sort of consolidation loan that will take that much or any other way to help with Private loans?

    • Thomas Bright

      I guess your comment posted twice. One alternative solution is peer-to-peer lending, but please do your research.

  • I borrowed Sallie Mae Private loans through-out college because My parent made to much money and I couldn’t ever get anything through government loans. I stayed in college longer than expected because I switched majors three times. The entire cost of my Sallie Mae private student loans now exceed $140,000 which blows me a away that they would even loan that much to me. Yes It was my fault for taking it out but when you are young you don’t think of the repercussions. In short other than interest only payments Sallie Mae has told me there is no other programs that I can utilize to get help with my payments. My payments are over $1000 a month which is about half of my take home income. I cannot afford my living expenses with the amount of payments I have to make to Sallie Mae and there is no way out of it??? If there is no other help with these loans I will end up defaulting and my financial situation with Crumble…..Is there anything I can do or just sit there and wait for my life to be ruined financially?

    • Thomas Bright

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation. It’s certainly a tough repayment that you are facing. Your best bet is likely to continue talking to them about your hardships and documenting your income/additional expenses. There may be some refinancing options from other websites and alternative funding sources, but you will have to look into those. Otherwise, just continue doing your best to increase income and minimize expenses.

  • Nancy B


    My son just graduated, but with a degree that will be hard to find a job in (that’s another story, another issue)… however, his government loan repayments will begin August.. at approx $400/month. he will not have that… I have enough home equity to take out what he owes at almost 1/2 the interest. . I don’t have 400 extra a month either.. and I’m close to retirement….. I have no issue with him paying me.. I know he’ll be giving me what he can afford….and then take over once he gets employed. I guess I’m looking for pros/cons.. I don’t know of any loan forgiveness programs (other than if he were to teach in a Title 1 district for 5 years).. but I think if my goal is to not defer, or go into forbearance, etc.. my best bet might be to go the Home Equity Loan. ???

    • Thomas Bright

      There are a lot of plans he may qualify for since these are federal loans. He can search for these through the federal loan website, or sign up for one of our free student loan counseling sessions, where a counselor can point him in the right direction. One of those programs (assuming he qualifies) will be MUCH more favorable than putting your home equity at risk.

  • I’m not sure how Sallie Mae factors in how they compound interest on Private Loans vs Federal but I have even small private loans from them (around $2k) that even though its a 8.25% interest rate the interest compounded exceeds that of my credit card that has a 24.99% interest rate that had a similar balance.
    I have a $5k Private loan with a 6.8% interest rate that has compounded twice the interest as my private loan that was the same size that was gotten a year earlier than my private loan. I don’t understand how that works. Just in the 6 years that I have had my Private loans from Sallie Mae I now owe over 3x what I borrowed. There is seriously something shady that Sallie Mae does with with interest (compounding by the minute maybe?)
    The only way Sallie Mae will even consider working with you is when they have completely obliterated your credit score and you have avoided or ignored their calls and not made any payments whatsoever for at least 6-8 months. Then they become desperate enough to work with you but by that time they have compounded an additional 5-6k in interest and another 2-3k in fees. Right now I make ok wages but was forced to move from one state to another just to afford to have a roof over my head while I tried to pay down my loans (which was only a few dollars towards the balance on $170k+) while trying to help out my parents after my mom was hospitalized with liver failure and is no longer able to work. They manage to gain interest at rates 5-6x what the actual interest rate is then complain when you can’t pay. When I graduated I was given paperwork from Sallie Mae on how much my monthly payments would be. When my first bill came due it was 5x what they told me just a few months prior my monthly payment would be. You take out 50k in loans and by the time you graduate 3 years later you own $85k and have to pay them almost $1400 a month? Are you kidding me? Then within a few years after running through all your forbearance and deferment options you now owe more than twice a much as you did before. There is no way if sallie mae follows the rules of compounding interest that loans at 6.8-9.25% equals 100% more owed after 3 years. Thats closer to 25-28% interest rates.

    • Thomas Bright

      Sorry to hear about some of your struggles with Sallie Mae. I’m intrigued about some of your points and concerns regarding the interest rates. I’m going to do a little more research and crunch some numbers. I’ll report back if I find anything that can help.

  • Benjamin

    I have 70,000K in Sallie Mae student loans – with no degree. 3 are private, 2 federal. If Sallie Mae won’t offer my any other repayment options what am I supposed to do? I can’t afford $1000 a month as I make just above minimum wage. Will CFPB actually get something done if I write them? I have a cosigner as well so going into default is not an option. Please help!

    • Thomas Bright

      Sorry to hear that Benjamin,

      Your best bet is likely to take advantage of the flexibility and repayment options available for your federal loans. Next, try to See what Sallie Mae can do, and even if they don’t help you at least you will be in a little better shape due to the federal loan safety nets.

  • Robert Deffinger

    I am the co-signer for my son’s Sallie Mae loan. We found out it is a private loan and companies that try to help you with payment deductions can not help with a private loan tru Sallie Mae.
    My son was a student at the school. He was on sick leave when all the schools across the country were closed down. Leaving the students with debts that were for nothing. Sallie Mae is not willing to forgive the debts of these students. My son’s loan is about $29,000 for nothing. He will not pay the payments which leave me with the dept, payments of $189.
    We have tried contacting the lawyers handling a class action against the school, but with all the schools assets taken by the bank, I don’t think there is much they can do.
    Any help? I am close to retirement and my son has two children and we both can not kept paying the payments from Sallie Mae.
    Thank you.
    Robert Deffinger

    • Thomas Bright

      That’s a really tough situation, Robert. Yes, federal loans are typically forgivable if something like a school shutdown were to happen. I’m sorry that the private lender is not extending that option. I would stay in correspondence with the legal professionals and, for the sake of your own credit, continue to try to make the minimum monthly payments. I would also continuously reach out to Sallie Mae explaining the hardship. Given the nature of this situation, reaching out to the CFPB is also a good idea.

  • My ex had student loans through National Collegiate trust. They were defaulted due to them never being paid. They sold the loan to another company who then sued both of us since we were married at the time of loan application. They were recently settled out of court and he ended up paying them and settling at about half of the $55k due. Question, even though they settled, can they still come after both of us for the remained if they sell the left over debt to someone else? I would imagine National Collegiate still wants all the money not just half??

    • Thomas Bright

      Abby that’s tough to answer and may depend on the written agreement. Any settlement or agreement such as that should always be in writing and you should always keep a copy for your records. I would check through that and see what it contains. My understanding is that the whole purpose of debt settlement is for the collection group or lender to get back at least something, so I’d say it’s likely that they don’t bother you again.

  • Besides what do you tell people who can’t get anywhere with private student loan debt? Are there any programs to refi into gov’t student loans?

    • Thomas Bright

      We like to refer people to the CFPB website as well. There is a lot of great information there. Yes, you can do a refinance in the form of a consolidation. We recommend that (if you choose this option) you only consolidate federal loans with each other. Do not throw private loans in the mix or consolidate federal loans into private loans.

  • I have a private loan from Sallie Mae and have to make payments of $500/month. My father co-signed on my loan for college since I didn’t have any well-established credit. As my father is currently paying my mother for alimony and child support for my brother, he can’t afford to help me pay off my student loans anymore. I only make $10 an hour at my current full-time job, so I had to pick up a second job. Even with my second job, I cannot make this payment to Sallie Mae. I tried to negotiate with them–called them in tears. They refused to help me. They said this was the lowest plan they offered. Therefore, I’ve decided to take some classes before I head to grad school in a year. How many classes would I need to take in order to defer on my Sallie Mae loan without destroying my father’s credit? Can you please tell me what the rules are about this? Thanks in advance!

    • Thomas Bright

      The trick here is that Sallie Mae only publishes this sort of info for the Federal loans they offer. It appears that while you are enrolled half-time as a federal loan borrower, you can defer. Unfortunately, this same information for their line of private loans does not appear to be publicly available. Your best bet is to call them and/or read carefully through the terms and conditions of your loan. Sorry I’m not more help!
      Best of luck!

  • Jaelynn

    I have read through nearly all of the correspondence between you and the other people with financial troubles like my own. In doing so, I figured it couldn’t hurt to take a breath and get my own situation assessed: I have private student loans with Sallie Mae that are currently in default. I have two different cosigners on two different loans, neither of which are able to help me. Unfortunately, all of these loans are for 3 ½ years of schooling, as I was not approved for a loan my last semester. With tuition being so out of financial reach, I had to drop out. It broke my heart. I worked fulltime all while going to college, and still do, but my paychecks have always just allowed me to make ends meet. I’ve taken care of my father and grandmother for years, which absolved most of my earnings. I had to choose between putting food in the fridge and paying off debt. However irresponsible, I just ignored my accruing debt, rather than contacting them with my situation (please don’t judge me). The stress of life gave me a “to h*ck with it all!” perspective. Student loans were the very least of my troubles and, at the time, didn’t seem worth my attention. I was the first of my family to graduate high school, let alone go to college, and my despairingly humble beginnings make me feel as if I never deserved to attend post-secondary schooling. In recent months, however, I moved in with my boyfriend, with whom I split the bills, and I finally have some money to put towards my loans. I don’t have much, but I have SOMETHING that I can give them on a monthly basis. I’ve tried to negotiate with Sallie Mae twice now; the first time, I was bounced from one department to another 5 times until I was eventually put on hold for 45 minutes and then disconnected. The second time, I eventually got an increasingly rude woman on the other line, and after explaining my whole situation, she insisted I have to pay a large lump sum up front to get back on track. I don’t have a large lump sum, and if at all possible, I don’t want to wait months until I can save something to give to them, while my due balance grows larger and my also-debt-stricken cosigners continue getting harassed. I want to just give them something. With all that being said, do you know of any resources or programs or potential knowledge of anything I can acquire before trying to contact them again? I would feel more comfortable having something in my arsenal for negotiation. This is all just so embarrassing and I apologize to you for being so long winded. Thank you in advance!

    • Thomas Bright

      No need to apologize. Thanks for sharing your story with us and the other readers. Kudos on your hard work and all you have done to take care of your family, and I understand why the debt has been so challenging. Your situation is certainly a tough one, and it might be a little beyond my scope of knowledge. It sounds like your loans are in default. But is Sallie Mae still trying to collect? Or is it a third-party collector? If it’s a collection agency, I would be sure to read up on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act so that you know your rights with collectors and will be prepared to document if they violate the rules. Also, if it’s a collection agency you will want to deal with them directly, instead of Sallie Mae.

      I don’t know how helpful that is, and your loans might still be with Sallie Mae instead of a collector, anyway. So then, your best bet is to continue calling and asking for managers or hardship specialist. i don’t know if this will really help your “arsenal” but be prepared to tell them how much you make annually, and what your living expenses are. Go ahead and document all of this before the call. List out all of your monthly obligations like car payments, rent, etc. And then what is your disposable income (the amount you have left)? By showing how low this number is, and being able to document it clearly, they might be more inclined to realize that it is really all you have to give. Be prepared to offer this up in writing along with providing tax documents.

      Like I said, I don’t have a ton of experience with this type of situation, and it sounds like you are fighting more of an uphill battle than most borrowers. But I really believe that once you show clearly that you are willing to pay, and you show how much you have available, they would be crazy to ask for more than that. They will be able to see that more than that just isn’t possible for you right now.

      It’s worth a shot and maybe if you can get the account back in good standing, you could even find a way to knock out your one final semester of college so that you can earn a higher income and really start paying these things off.

      Best of luck!

  • My husband and myself are co-signers for my daughters sallie mae private loans. They are $60K. Every other month after paying on time we get harrassing phone calls (from the am to pm hours) and emails saying they are past due when in fact they are not. When I ask for supervisor’s they always say the money was misapplied on the loans and they request that this be rectified. Doesn’t happen that way. It just happens over and over. I’m so sick of this I could scream!!! We are good payors do the right thing but seem like we’re getting screwed some how. For an ex: her grandparents gave her some money to put on the highest interest rate loan. Great but what they don’t tell you is then for the next year or however it works out with the amount paid, you go back to interest only!WHAT IS GOING ON? I just found this out after a year of interst only payments. Talk about a scam!! I was not prepared for this, they are getting away with theft. I feel as though we have no recourse but to write to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    • Thomas Bright

      I am sorry to hear this. If I were you, I would document and and every interaction with them. They more than likely should not be allowed to call you and harass you in that manner. Go back also and find any documentation of how you asked them to apply extra payments. I would continue to call them pro-actively and ask for management, but I would also not hesitate to go to the CFPB. They are built to handle this type of issue and even have a Student Loan Ombudsman Group that you can work with.

      Stay pro-active and document everything! Those are your best strategies with this type of thing!

  • Hi. I have private loans with Sallie Mae. I’ve been making on-time payments for 7+ years, even sending more $ than is actually due. I called today to request a rate reduction if I changed from auto payments via my bank to auto payments via SM. The rep told me I don’t qualify for any borrower benefits even if I change to auto pay via their website. I’m sorry but that is complete BS IMO. Is there anything I can do? Almost everything I’ve read online says unless you have a hardship or are delinquent there is no way to get assistance or benefits. Is this really how it works? So doing the right thing and paying gets you nothing. I’m just super annoyed. I’ve been able to get reduced interest rates with my other private loans with WF, what is up with SM?

    • Thomas Bright

      You are doing the right things – great job on your progress so far. I know a lot of banks/lenders do give interest rate reductions of about.25% for signing up into an automated payment plan. I’m guessing that you are either already getting some sort of discount for the automated bank payments, or they just don’t offer this sort of thing at Sallie Mae. Your best bet will be to call again, talk to a few different reps, and even ask to speak to a manager. Even being able to get .25% reduced can be a help. I would also suggest reading through the terms and conditions on your loan and on their website.

      Best of luck!

  • About a year ago, I made the adult decision to move back in with my parents because I was drowning in my student loan debt. Fortunately, I have never been in default and have been able to save money and making all of my minimum payments. A year has gone by now, but I am still unable to move out, pay rent, and pay my student loans (mostly private) all at the same time. I consolidated my federal loans (BIG help on the monthly payments), but am unable to consolidate my private loans because I need a cosigner and I don’t have one available. My parents are pretty much ‘maxed out’ on cosigning because of all the student loans between me and my sister. How do people live and survive AND pay off their student debt? I can’t even fathom. I sometimes wish I never went to college just because I don’t want my $1200 monthly payment anymore. I could be paying off a mortgage with that money! Any advice?

    All of the comments and your replies have been extremely helpful so far and I am glad to see that I am not alone in this journey of adulthood.

    • Thomas Bright

      Hey Andrea,
      That does sounds really tough, but you definitely aren’t alone. You should be proud of yourself for making such a smart decision to stay at home, and your parents are awesome for letting you do that. The advice is going to sound generic, but it’s really the only advice to give–keep doing what you’re doing and try to make more income and spend less. If you want to get even more serious about paying these loans off, here are my suggestions. Do you have cable? Cut that. Do you have a smartphone? Go cancel your contract and get a pay as you go phone for $25 a month. Do you work 40 hours a week? If not, actively look for a job to get you up to 40 hours and provide benefits. If you do work 40 hours a week, look for a side job or weekend job. Have any hobbies or things you are really good at? Use those skills to earn extra money. Have a lot of stuff that you don’t need anymore? Have a yardsale or start selling on ebay during your spare time. What about food? Do you go out to eat often? If so, cut back and become a really smart grocery shopper.

      Like I said, the real “advice” here is to make more money and spend less of it. It’s going to be tough but you will keep bringing down that overall debt total, and it will be much more manageable before you know it. Hang in there, and good luck!

  • Hi, I was wondering is there any way we can negotiated a payment with student loan? Let say I have about 3g left to pay off and all i can do is pay 1500g or 1250g. Would you think they will do that? Or will they? Please let me know.



    • Thomas Bright

      Lee, typically you cannot negotiate a payment like that for your student loans. The exception would be if you had defaulted and were dealing with a collections agency. But, we are hoping that doesn’t happen! My suggestion: pay what you have now and start saving up for future payments. That will save you on interest if nothing else.

      Good luck!

  • Angie Jones

    Hi Thomas,

    I have five private loans through Sallie Mae (over $75,000). I have been paying them over the past four years; I started repayment six months after I graduated. In addition to my minimum monthly payments, I have been attempting to save and pay off entire loan amounts one by one. The first one on the list has a current balance of $8,448.57 and a variable interest rate of 3.25%. Before paying it off though, I decided to keep my own records on my payment history, and started up a spreadsheet, plugging in all the numbers currently available on Sallie Mae’s website. Monthly payments, amounts applied to interest, and principal, and any other fees to make sure my previous payments had been applied correctly. It appears to me that I’ve paid $3,653.45 over the past four years, however my current balance is more than my principal balance. I’ve never put this loan into forbearance either.

    Info as taken from the Sallie Mae account website:

    Original Balance: $8,131.00 (Dispersed 2004)
    Principal Balance: $8,432.04
    Current Balance: $8,448.57
    Interest Rate: 3.25%

    Total Payments: $3,653.45
    Amount Applied to Principal: $2,359.11
    Amount Applied to Interest: $1,269.34
    Late Fees: $25.00

    Does this seem correct? I feel like I’ve been paying these loans for the past four years (with over a third of my income) and it has gotten me nowhere. And this is just one (the smallest) of five loans from Sallie Mae. Any insight you might have would be greatly appreciated.


    • Thomas Bright

      It’s going to be hard for me to give you a really helpful answer without seeing more specifics, but I do have a few ideas. You are certainly right to question this, and I would call Sallie Mae and explain this to them. They should be able to tell you what’s going on. Do you know how much extra you have paid in total across all your loans? Is that also equal to $3,653.45. Maybe that amount was actually disbursed evenly across all your loans. So instead of bringing one of them down quickly, it just put a little dent into each of them. That’s purely speculation on my part, but it seems plausible. Still though, that wouldn’t explain why your balance now is showing as being higher than the original. \

      Definitely give them a call and ask why that balance is showing as being so high. Then, make sure you explain how you want your extra payments applied. It will be best to put this in writing.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes,

  • Thomas,

    Thanks for this. I read a lot of responses at the top, but there are so many I just don’t have time to really find what I’m looking for.

    I graduated May ’13 and funded my college education with private loans from Sallie and about 30K in federal. Overall, I’m $110K in debt. My monthly payment is $1235.

    I spoke multiple times with Sallie Mae reps and asked if I could lower my payment – they simply won’t budge. One of my loans has a 9.75% interest rate – $70 goes to principal, $210 goes to interest – how on earth do they expect me to actually make ground on something like this as a recent college graduate? I was fortunate enough to get a job that pays about $60K/year, but what if I hadn’t?

    Are there buzz words that I can say to the next Sallie Mae rep I speak to in order to get them to actually “hear” me?


    • Thomas Bright

      Tyler, good question.

      It sounds like the issue with $70 going to principal and $210 going to interest will just be temporary until you knock out the accrued interest. Then you should start making some pretty good headway on the principal — assuming that I understand the situation correctly.

      My favorite buzzword is “hardship,” because that’s common in the industry and can lead to some…well “hardship programs.” With your income, that will be a tough sell. Instead, you might try to demonstrate the percentage of your income that you are having to put toward the loans. Explain why that is unreasonable, given your other financial commitments. At the same time, getting a lower monthly payment won’t really help you in the long run. that’s a better strategy for people who aren’t making a good income now but might be able to down the road. What would be ideal is to get a lower interest rate, so you might even look at something like consolidation for the private loans. Long story short, you should try to pay those off as quickly as possible and then turn attention to the federal loans.

      Hope that helps,

  • Hi Tom,

    I took out student loans with Citibank after my father passed away to help me pay for college. Five months after I finished school as a full-time student (I had one class left before I graduated and 1 class is not considered even part-time) I got a letter from Discover stating they purchased my loans and that they were coming due the next month, but never received any other paper work regarding how much I would be responsible for each month or anything else. I called Discover the day I received the letter and they told me I was going to owe in just a few weeks over $900. I had spent the next few weeks and months on the phone with Discover talking to different “student loan specialists” and I got in contact with one and she said my student loans shouldn’t be over $900 a month, they should be a little over $700 a month, I asked her a few times during that phone call if she was sure that was correct for all 5 of the loans that I had and she told me yes. I asked her to please send me a letter which states what she was telling me and she did. After that I had spoken to a few other “student loan specialists” who said the same thing she did. I then started to pay the 700 amount that was stated on the letter and shortly after started receiving letters saying my loans were being under paid. So I called to Discover to ask them about the letter I received, I even spoke to a manager who said I should pay the 700 a month until he straightened the situation out, which I continued to do. He told me he thought that the “specialists” had forgotten to check the second screen and see the 5th loan they were only looking at the 4 loans on the first screen. But the letter I have clearly states loan 21, 22, 23 and 24. After almost a year of phone calls and letters and arguments and leaving messages with no response the supervisor told me that I had to pay the 900 and that was it. I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau against Discover because the letter I received from them clearly stated all 5 of my loans. Every time I called I was told that my phone call was being recorded and of course when I filed the complaint they said they weren’t able to find those recordings but could read the notes that the “specialists” had left. They ended up giving me a $1,600 credit on one of my loans, but I still don’t think that’s fair. Should I try to file a complaint with CFPB? Is it even worth is at this point? I really can’t afford the 900 a month, plus rent, utilities, food etc. HELP!

    • Thomas Bright

      Hey Meghan,
      Very tough situation but you are doing all the right things by continuing to follow up and staying persistent. It sounds like this may be a good situation to reach out to the CFPB for help. Their experience in dealing with this kind of thing could be very useful.

      Best of luck,

  • Hi!

    I will be going to school this summer and will need to take out a private loan. I am debating between Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo because I currently bank with Wells Fargo. Based on benefits and the history of both companies, which of the two would you prefer to take a loan from if you had to do so?


    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Amanda,
      That’s a good question. For me it would come down to which one had the lower interest rate. I would probably base my decision on that. If for some reason they had the same interest rate then I would read through the terms and conditions for each one and see which sounds more favorable and more forgiving in case you were to run into any sort of difficulties during your repayment.

  • does anyone know if the sallie mae student loans have a penalty for paying them off early , my fiance and I want to pay his off in full tomorrow but you can’t talk to anyone on the phone to know if there is a penalty or not. I need to know this answer.

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Nicole,
      There should not be a penalty for paying off loans early. I bet Sallie Mae will be happy to get their money 🙂

  • I’m on Sallie Mae’s rate reduction program now, with a 3% rate. You should know that for those 3 “qualifying” months when you set up auto-pay, Sallie Mae still reports the higher payment (demanded of you prior to joining the program) to the credit bureau and reports your payments as Delinquent for those first 3 months. I filed a dispute with Sallie Mae, and they just “resolved” it by “confirming accurate reporting”, despite the fact that I provided copies of cleared checks to them, along with a printed transaction history from my online account through showing that I made the agreed upon reduced payment, on time, every month since I began the program. I just spoke to a representative, and he explained to me that basically, when you start the program, you don’t really start the program, so they can still report you as delinquent, even though you’re following their instructions to qualify. Because you’re trying to qualify for the program, you haven’t technically started it yet, even though qualification is based on whether or not you can make the reduced payments on time. Supposedly this was stated in the terms and conditions; I’m trying to find a written copy of those right now.

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Paige,
      Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience. That is definitely something to take note of. I am going to do a little more digging into that as well, but let us know if you find out anything in the meantime.

  • Broken Soul

    I don’t understand why if you unemployed and can’t find work schools pursue loans over scholarships and grants?
    It suppose to be over a billion dollars in grants and scholarship, but they want you to take out loans knowing you can’t pay them back anytime soon.
    I did not choose sallie mae they did.It make the whole outlook look bleak because on top of the private loans you have federal loans.
    How do they think they gone to get paid?
    If I can’t get a job or let alone employer refuses to hire me how in the heck they expect me to have a job in a short amount of time or after I have graduated?

    • Thomas Bright

      I’m sorry to hear about your struggles. You are right, and the expectation that people will be able to start repayment in just six months after graduation just isn’t realistic. We just have to budget the best we can, do everything in our power to get a good job, and just keep pushing through.

      Best of luck to you.

  • eldridge


    I have a student loan with sallie mae that was in default and now charge off . I fell on hard times and not sure how to handle this!
    any suggestions would help


    • Thomas Bright

      Well if it’s in collections then your best bet is probably to communicate with the collector. Tell them exactly what you’re going through and see how willing they are to work with you. Just be careful not to over-promise.

  • I have approximately $50,000 in private student loan debt through AES (they service the original chase loan). I can’t tell you how many times I have called them trying to get options on my $360/mo payment. I’ve had to pay it for the last two years while I was in grad school. I’m graduating this month and looking for work in the non-profit industry. My graduate degree is in International Development. I doubt I will make a large salary anytime soon. As it is, I’m having a hard time with the job search, as it is. There has got to be some sort of option of hardship for me. It’s as if they don’t give a hoot about the people behind the loans. If I could do anything in my life it would be to tell that 19 year old self to not sign on the dotted line for awful private student loans. What can I do? How can I make life more manageable? I’m not worried about my government loans since ibr is an option and I will work in public service. I still need help. I live at my parents and pay more in bills than my friends do on rent. Help!

    • Thomas Bright

      Sorry Ashley,
      That is a really tough situation. I would recommend continuing to call them and explain your situation. I realize that might not work, but you have to keep doing it. The other option is to find ways to increase your income somehow. It might mean a second job for a while but if you can get that debt behind you it might be worth it. Depending on the specifics, consolidation could be worth looking into as well.

  • My husband and I filed chapter 13 in 2009. We were mislead by our lawyer regarding our student loan debt. The day we went to sign our papers the payment to the trustee had increased by $200. When we asked why we were told it was because of our student loan debt. We said to the lawyer that we didn’t think you could file bankruptcy on them and he said yes you can add them. So we were left with the impression that the balance would be forgiven at the end of the bankruptcy. Boy were we wrong! Even though the trustee paid them $8000 over the course of the bankruptcy and Sallie Mae filed for their share it was not forgiven. We got a bill,we consolidated our loans together in 2001, for 125,000 and an $1100 payment. The balance was $78,000 when we filed bankruptcy so it accrued interest the whole time! I am totally disabled and my husband makes $34,000 a year. We barely make ends meet for our family of three. Sallie Mae says we make too much income for an economic hardship forbearance and all other forbearances were maxed out prior to bankruptcy. I was reading the borrowers rights on the back of our bill and it says that you mat qualify for a lower payment, deferment or forgiveness if you are totally disabled or if your spouse is disabled and needs care. The bill only came in my husbands name which is strange since they are both our loans combined??? Since it’s just in his name,would we qualify since I am disabled? I can’t get any answers from Sallie Mae. Our loans are federal not private. There’s no way we can pay $1100 a month,we would be homeless! They for some reason do not take into account medical bills,food,utilities,housing etc when they calculate for economic hardship forbearance or income based repayment,so we don’t qualify as our payment is less than 20% of our monthly income. What can we do? We filed bankruptcy to better our financial life,not to make it worse! At this point we won’t ever be able to own a home again,buy a car etc as our income to debt ratio will prevent it! We are at a loss as we thought we were doing what we were supposed too!

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Traci, that is a tough situation.
      I don’t have all the answers in a situation like this, and part of the confusion may be due to the fact that the loans were consolidated. Were they federal loans originally but then consolidated into a private loan? If so, you may have lost the opportunity to use the benefits of federal loans, such as forgiveness programs and income-based repayment. If they are still federal, you may have some additional options. I would start by reading through the federal student loan website for more information. If they are private, though, Sallie Mae and the CFPB are the two groups you should stay in close contact with.

      wishing you the best of luck,

  • Frustrated

    My husband’s paycheck is being garnished for his daughter’s student loan debt that she has not paid. His previous wife was the borrower but she has since died and they have her signature on the loan, but his signature was added electronically as the co-signer. He did not know anything about this loan or that he was on the hook for it, but it has been turned over to NES and they have told us that there is nothing that can be done and we owe for the debt. Is there anyway we can fix this? The amount is over 18k and climbing.

    • Thomas Bright

      That is a very frustrating situation, but unfortunately it’s one of the pitfalls of cosigning. The best thing to do is stay in contact with the daughter, and encourage her to make better financial decisions and make payments to this debt. If she doesn’t, and you can’t make the payments, both of your credit scores will suffer. It’s better to communicate and form a game plan to tackle this debt together.

      Good luck,

  • Melissa

    I have heard from a Sallie Mae employee that they will negotiate up to 50% if the loan is defaulted and your credit destroyed. I am a cosigner to a non-family member who has cut me off completely and abandoned her responsbility. I did not realize that the second and third year I signed for her student loans that it was a DIFFERENT amount than the initial $4,000. So I ended up cosigning for $35,000 instead of the $12,000 I thought. She never graduated and did not return to school this semester, forcing payments. My income is very low and I believe my options are to apply for their reduced interest rate programs or to allow my credit to be destroyed and attempt to negotiate. Do you have any advice?

    • Thomas Bright

      Cosigning and the pitfalls associated with it can lead to very unfortunate circumstances like this, and I’m sorry that happened to you. I never really advocate to let your credit score suffer, because that can affect you in so many ways. But at the same time, 35k is a lot to pay especially when it isn’t “yours.” you face a very tough decision.

  • Lareb Elahi

    Im right now applying for salli mae loan through medical school. I had gotten denied with a 716 credit score and will have a cosigner. At the end of my journey I will approximately have taken out 218,184. Through out my journey will they stop me from taking more money to pay for my tuition since its so much money? Like if I’m in my 3rd year of med school and have taken out 109,900 dollars, will they prevent me from taking out more for my next semester and so on?

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Lareb,

      That’s a fantastic question, and one that I don’t know much about. Geez med school is expensive! My best advice would be to call around to other lenders and talk to the financial office at your med school. Obviously, you aren’t the only one in this situation, so it’s probably much more common than you think. I would seek out their advice and try to get some clear expectations about what to expect financially over the next several years.

      Wishing you luck!

  • I am 62 years old and plan to retire at 67. I have a Parent Plus Student Loan for my son that is now due. Should I withdraw funds from my 401k to pay this loan off?

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Doren,
      I’m in no way qualified to answer that, and I obviously don’t know the specifics of your situation, including how much the loan is worth. What I will say is that it’s typically recommended that you DO NOT touch your retirement funds to pay off student loans. So, if you can make payments to the PLUS Loan from other savings or your income over the next five years, that’s probably the way to go.


  • Hi,

    You’re so awesome Thomas, I’ve been reading your post, and its great that you actually reply to people. so here. I am a biochem major, non trad and work full time. I want to go to medical school. Currently I have $12500 in loans, and have just been approved for a $20k loan from sallie mae, I have really good credit, or so I thought. my issue and fear is the interest rates. WHY Are they so high. I mean should I do a fixed, my issue is that I will need another next year, and God knows how much for medical school. This is why doctors have to specialize in something…it cost too much to want a better life. I just assumed that student loans were much much lower in interest rates, am I being duped?

    For 20K if i chose variable or fixed.

    With a fixed rate loan
    Repayment Option/Interest /In-School Payment /Post-School Payment /P.S Repayment Term (months) Total Cost

    Interest Payment
    11.875% $197.92 $392.92 72 $33,753.19
    Fixed Payment
    12.375% $25.00 $414.73 96 $40,434.05
    Deferred Payment
    12.875% $0.00 $410.66 108 $44,185.09

    Variable Interest Rate Repayment Option/Interest /In-School Payment /Post-School Payment /P.S Repayment Term (months) Total Cost
    Interest Payment 09.125% $152.08 $364.05 72 $30,418.84

    Fixed Payment 09.625% $25.00 $357.57 96 $34,999.55

    Deferred Payment 10.125% $0.00 $351.76 108 $37,892.67

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Vee,
      you must have jinxed me because I have not had much time to reply to comments lately. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, though! As a rule, when I hear the term “variable interest” I cringe. It’s typically not worth the risk to end up with a ridiculous interest rate later. But I also must say, that an interest rate near 12% does seem quite high. Obviously, federal loans are much lower, but since you did not mention them I guess you don’t currently qualify? You might consider a company like sofi or some other alternate lending methods. Maybe you could even ask around at various financial institutions. If your credit is good, there are likely some other private lenders out there who will be able to offer you better terms.

      Wishing you the best of luck!

  • So do I have any hope of negotiating a settlement payoff amount on my Sallie Mae student loans? Currently, I’m not late or in default but I owe double my original loan amount. My original loan amount was $45,000 my balance ballooned to $92,000 with accrued interest. I have been paying my loans for the last 7years but have just recently lost my job and am struggling. I still owe about $85,000. I am thinking of selling my house and paying off my loans but I want to know if sallie Mae will negotiate a payoff amount. I don’t think I’ll have much after I sell my house but am hoping to have about $45,000. Is this doable. I’m desperate.

    • Thomas Bright

      That’s a really tough situation Sam. I would definitely explain the specifics of your hardship to Sallie Mae. you never know. Do you have any other monthly debts? If so, you might consider hardship programs or DMP for those too, in order to keep the interest down so you can focus on the loans. I’m sorry that you are having this type of difficulty!

  • I’m a co-signer on my son’s Sallie Mae loans. Current balances are approx $50k and $25k. I am considering paying off the $50k loan. Are there any incentives for paying these off early? Any chance to negotiate the balance(s) down?

    • Thomas Bright

      Hey Mark,

      The main incentive is that interest won’t grow and you’ll save more money. From the lender’s perspective, they MAKE more money if you pay interest. Because of this, I doubt you can get a deal by offering to pay it off in full. I could be wrong, though, and it’s certainly worth a try. Let us know what you hear!

  • Maureen


    Due to changes in my employment (I was a secretary), I went back to college to change my career. I paid my BA by myself though scholarships and grants. However, when I went to graduate school I took out two loans to get through this process. I’ve paid one off, but the other is Sallie Mae. The loan is $34,000. I have had this loan for 15 years and it never seems to go down. I work with developmentally disabled and learning disabled teens, however, Sallie Mae will not consider loan forgiveness until the loan is down to 17,000. The problem is I pay 200.00 a month (recently they wanted to up it to 400.00 a month, but I could not pay). I will be 62 years old in another month. My question is what am I going to do when I retire (if) at 66 years old and am still paying this loan off. I have worked, like many all my life, since 17 years old. I did not take time off from school, but worked within the college or off campus. Do you have any suggestions for how I can handle this situation?
    thank you

    • Thomas Bright

      I can tell you are a hard worker, and I’m sorry to hear about your troubles with your Sallie Mae loan. I don’t think they are going to be open to changing your payment requirements unless they really feel like you are undergoing some type of financial hardship. Since you are working, etc. this probably isn’t the case. My best advice is to just find ways to free up more of your income. Can you save on rent or housing costs? Do you have credit card debt? Cutting out some of these will allow you to put more funds to the student loan and pay it off more quickly. I know this isn’t earth-shattering advice, but it’s the best I can give with what I know about your situation. If you called into Clearpoint for a free budget/credit counseling session, we may be able to suggest more ways that you could free up some income. Best of luck.

  • My student loan was cancelled because I became unable to work due to an injuries, and have been put on SSD. I received 1099-C , code – F. I went to do my taxes.. (Loan amount was 85000.) My taxes said I owe $22,000 to Federal and $6000 to state. I don’t understand this. If you got your loan is forgiven (of which you are being monitored for 3 yrs to make sure you have not worked) , your only income is $1260 a month and unable to go back to work.My yearly income from SSD is $15,120. How does the government expect you 10 pay back that $28,000 by April 15, let alone even in that years time. Help!!!!

    • Thomas Bright

      Linda, this type of situation is beyond my area of expertise. Here’s what I do know–forgiven debt is treated as taxable income. At first glance, it does seem like you are being taxed at a high percentage, but I’m not sure what the standard is. I would suggest seeking the advice or a tax professional and maybe even an attorney. You could also start by talking to one of our credit counselors who may know more about this type of situation and could potentially point you to some additional resources. I’m sorry to hear about your situation and I wish you the best of luck.

  • Hello. I currently have a private student loan in default through Wells Fargo for approximately $18,500. The lowest payment plan they supposedly can give me would be $440 a month. I can’t afford that in addition to my other bills such as rent. My credit union denied my application for a personal line of credit to settle the debt and I was told I’m not eligible for consolidation by this website consumer reports recommended (student loan consolidator I think). If I can’t afford their payment plan and no one is willing to give me a loan to consolidate, do I have any other options? I feel panicked. I’m worried they’ll freeze my accounts, take my paychecks and tax returns and/or sue me.

    • Thomas Bright

      That’s a tough situation, and I certainly don’t know all the details. Here’s what comes to mind initially. 1) Try to rent somewhere else where the monthly cost is cheaper.2) Continue to call Wells Fargo, get different people on the phone, and continue to communicate ALL of your situation. Be prepared to explicitly explain your finances, how much you make, how much you pay in rent, etc to explain your hardship fully. 3) Improve your credit score. It will be difficult if you are already missing payments, but if you can get cheaper rent, make timely payments for a few months and turn it around, you may then be eligible for that consolidation. 4) Do you have credit card debt? If so, you may be a great candidate for our debt management program. If you are able to secure lower interest rates for your credit cards, then you will have more money freed up for your student loan payments. I hope some of these strategies will work for you or at least help you take a step in the right direction. Wishing you the best of luck!

  • I defaulted my student loan a few years ago due to some personal issues (I’m sure you’ve heard it all before and I’m not going to add to unless you want to know). It was unintentional, but it happened. I had called Sallie Mae to make payment arrangements last week because I wanted to start paying them again so that I could eventually go back to school. They made an settlement offer of $1400, but wanted it all at once instead of payments. I don’t have $1400 and I don’t know anyone who does. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out a way to get this defaulted loan taken care of at the settlement rate, but not sure how. Any suggestions would be very greatly appreciated.


    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Seph,

      That’s a tough situation, but good for you for trying to pay it off years later. I wonder how long that offer will be on the table. $1400 is a lot of money, but if you had a few months to save up for it, it might not be so bad. In this case, I would recommend establishing a strict budget and looking for ways to cut costs and save more each month. You might be a good candidate for our budget and credit counseling. It’s free and a counselor will review all your information and help you find places to save and work toward your goal of $1400. If you have credit card debt, a debt management plan might also be a good idea so that you can pay those down and free up more money. It really depends on the specifics of your situation. Try looking around the additional resources on our site to see if we can help! Good luck!

  • Hi Thomas –

    Since you have been responding to others, I thought I’d give it a shot too. I can tell you first hand that I have contacted my lenders (Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo) asking for either reduced payment options or to extend the life of my loan. Each and every time they have told me that it is better to default the loan than pay them anything less than the minimum payment (what???). (I owe each lender about $35,000 and I owe another $35,000 in Federal loans – at least the government is willing to work with me though.)

    That said, I’ve been making my payments, on time, every month even though they require over half of my income. My question has more to do with consolidation. I don’t have a terrible credit score (around 630) but was denied the consolidation loan. I recently just paid off a credit card that had a balance of roughly $750. I know that will boost my credit score, but I’m not sure how much. My questions is – how long after boosting my credit score should I wait to reapply for the loan? Should I even reapply? If you are suggesting I not reapply, do you have any other options. Because calling the lender and communicating my problems has NOT worked for me.

    Also, I read someone else suggesting defaulting the loans, and THEN, someone will try to work with you to reduce your payments or extend the life of your loan. Unfortunately, I am not willing to damage my credit in the hopes of MAYBE getting a lower payment.

    Any advice would be helpful!


    • Thomas Bright

      Hey Rachel,

      Sorry for the late reply, but thanks for commenting and asking a great question! You are making the right choice (in my opinion and in most situations) by NOT intentionally defaulting. It can have some long term consequences, as you know. I can see where in your situation, a consolidation could be beneficial. I guess you just want to be sure that your credit score has gone up (it may take a little time). So go ahead and check your credit report ( is free) and maybe even check your score on Credit Karma. Credit Karma has drawbacks, because it isn’t your official FICO score, but it can give you an idea of the trend your score is taking. You might even be able to ask the lender what credit score they are looking for, so that you can know in advance what your chances are of getting the loan. That way, you won’t waste another “credit inquiry” which can sometimes ding your score temporarily. You might also be able to “shop around” and find some other lenders with comparable rates on their consolidation loans.

      My only other advice, which you might have already used, is to really take advantage of the federal loan flexibility. You may want to minimize your payments to your federal loans while you focus all your extra time, effort, and money on these private loans.

      Best of luck!

  • I have 100k in federal loans and 106k in private loans. I have two masters degrees. I took out 60 in private and the interest has just about doubled my original loan balance from rates hitting as high as 14.9% they are finally down to 7.9% but the damage has already been done. I can’t afford the payments on a teachers pay. My federal loans are manageable now that IBR plan is in place. My wife lost her job and just started working I was paying all the bills for the past six months and choose to not pay private loans i now owe 6k to make my account current they don’t have any program to help me get back on track they just tell me if i make a payment it will take 30 days off. It still hits my credit as being 120 days late so what is the point in throwing money away? If its still going to hurt my credit each month. They think I can make double payments to catch back up. I wish I had that kind of income but its not realistic with the terms they have given me. No clue what to do! Sit and wait for them to decide to help out or let them default completely?

    • Thomas Bright

      Its a tough situation, Joe, and I’m sorry you are experiencing it. The good news is that because you are a teacher, you might be able to have your federal loans forgiven. So yes, I would definitely suggest making the private loans a priority, but you don’t want to stretch yourself too thin. I hear what you’re saying about the unreasonable expectations they are setting, but you don’t want to let your credit continue to get dinged. I would stay in very close communication with your private lender and clearly communicate and document your particular financial situation.

  • hi!

    I read your article, really helpful! but I have about 56k in private sallie Mae loans that I can’t afford at all. I make just barely enough to survive. I’ve tried calling them and talking but they tell me there’s nothing they can do. they offer forebearance but it doesn’t seem worth it because after 3 months my payment inflates like crazy. any tips? this is the first payment in over a year I haven’t been able to make an they don’t seem to want to work with me.

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Lauren,
      My advice isn’t groundbreaking but it’s true. You are going to just have to keep working and doing everything you can to stay afloat. Continue to communicate when you have problems, but also continue to make the minimum payment if at all possible. Sometimes, they aren’t willing to work with you until you are really struggling, but sometimes it can just be a matter of getting the right person on the phone. That’s why we recommend that you stay in close contact with them. I’d also suggest asking about a rate reduction if you haven;t tried that already. Wishing you luck!

  • Chandler

    I’m on disability. I only get 844.00 per month. I finally got my federal student loans out of default last month. I have private student loan debt of 190k. Between the living expenses and my federal payment I cannot even fathom the minimum payments which are almost 10 times my monthly income. I don’t know what to do. The private loans are with Sallie Mae. I am worried if I call them, they will garnish my Fed Disabilty check and then I am really screwed. My Federal student loans where in a rehab program for 9 months then they were transfered back to Sallie Mae. I’m out of options I think. Not sure where to go from here.

    • Thomas Bright

      Hey Chandler,
      I’m really sorry to hear about your situation. It’s one that I’m not incredibly familiar with, so I may not be able to give the best advice. After a little research, though, I did find some info on Sallie Mae and disability forgiveness. It looks like this may depend on the extent of the disability and some other factors. Even if they don’t discharge the debt, I wonder if maybe you might qualify for some sort of extended deferment. I would suggest doing some thorough research (although you might have already done this) and then I would call Sallie Mae and try to talk it out. Believe it or not, in situations like this it’s usually better to fully communicate your situation.
      Wishing you the best of luck. Let us know how it goes!

  • Ali2014

    Sallie Mae transferred my loan to Central Credit Services 27k and I cannot pay them, I also have other loans with Sallie Mae that I still have to pay. It’s not that I don’t want too. It’s just that I cannot make a big payment and survive. I support two kids, my loans go into default but they accrued interest which means I still have to pay MORE. They constant harass me with calls all thru the day and they even call my ex-husband.

    • Thomas Bright

      Sorry to hear this.
      From my research, it looks like Central Credit falls into the category of “collection agency.” We recommend that you are upfront with them about what you are experiencing (your economic hardship) and communicate with them in a respectable and honest way. And don’t overpromise. It’s also important that you know your rights and make sure that they follow the law. Here are some guidelines for dealing with debt collectors that could be helpful.

  • My mother was handling my student loans until I recently found out differently. When I call regarding the loan I can not find out history of interest of payments because it has changed hands so many times. I am only told the balance. Is there a way I can search for a history of this loan?

    • Thomas Bright

      This may depend on the type of loan (private/federal). If it’s federal, I would check NSDLS to see what you can find. I would also keep calling the lender and asking questions. These things do switch hands frequently, but they should also leave a paper trail. Go back and check for letters and emails that may have come to you or your mother, updating you about the status of the loans.

  • Thank you for the great article — it was very informative.

    At the start of med school, we were all told that government loans (even unsubsidized) was better than private loans. however, going through medical school, residency and now fellowship my “favorable” government loans have always had higher interest rates (6-8%) compared to my private SalleMae loans (for the past 10 years have been at a steady 3.25%).

    Am I missing something here? Other than the small direct/subsidized loans we were allowed, for medical professionals the majority of our loans are from the unsubsidized portion of government loans so I have been paying a lot more interest compared to my private loans. Would it be wise to go with another private loan to pay off my govt loan for a more favorable interest rate? I know, it might sound crazy and I know private loans are not capped but I can’t see my 3.25% going up to 8% like the government ones!

    Thanks for your advice!

    • Thomas Bright

      Hey Alex,
      that’s a tough question. I most of my posts I recommend that people choose federal loans instead of private whenever possible because of the additional safety nets. In other words, federal loans offer programs and other features that are very “forgiving” for those who run into economic trouble. I also don’t know that everyone is able to secure such a good rate on private loans (like the 3.25% you mention) as those are likely based on credit scores. For someone in your financial situation, the advice could be different. If you are already earning a high income, it might make a lot of sense to switch over to private loans via a refinance/consolidation program, and you may be able to do so without much risk. That is up to you to determine, given the specifics of your situation. I do believe there are quite a few programs to help doctors repay their loans–even federal loans–such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Of course, there are stipulations here, and there are also similar programs run by other private groups. You may consider those options as well. Best of luck!

  • Allied interstate sent me stuff to get on a payment program for my defaulted Sallie Mae US Funds student loan. It’s been tough since I left school a few years ago, but now that I can I want to get this taken care of. Should I deal with Sallie Mae directly? I’m reading bad reviews of allied interstate.

    • Thomas Bright

      If I’m not mistaken, Allied Interstate is a collection agency that works with Sallie Mae borrowers in default. Unfortunately, I doubt there is much you can do other than working directly with Allied. You will want to be forthcoming and honest about your situation and be proactive in your dealings with them. You will also want to keep all the paperwork for your loans handy and make sure that you don’t pay more than you owe. You can reach out to Sallie Mae, perhaps, for clarification on any questions relating to the original loan(s).

  • Meredith

    Just reading everyone’s e-mails. Wanted to tell you all about my experience and how it might help you. I graduated with a master’s, owed Sallie Mae and couldn’t find a job. Have two little children to support and moved in with my mother-in-law. First, I was able to claim unemployment after six months after graduating because I couldn’t find a job and then I was able to claim forebearance, which essentially delayed my payments. Because of the enormous interest rate, it is best to pay whatever you can monthly, even if it is only part of the interest and even if they don’t ask you for it – it really does add up and compounds (I took money out of my IRA to pay the interest and I’m glad I did so). I was in forebearance for I believe two years and then was able to find a job which paid very poorly and applied for the income based repayment plan (you will just need to refer to your tax return from previous year). It was very easy and did it all online. My payment plan starts off low and gradually gets higher. I have now finally, finally found a great job. Just hang in there and do whatever you can to make a payment and communicate with them. When buying a home or factoring in a credit score, student loan debt is actually considered more of a “good” debt. If you buy a home or a condo, you could always then take out a loan from your home and pay off the student debt so you can get a lower interest rate. Hopefully the economy will continue to strengthen and more good jobs will be created. Best to you all and keep your heads up.

    • Thomas Bright

      Thanks for sharing your story Meredith! And, it’s great to hear that you are making a financial comeback. Congrats!

  • Roseanne

    Hi..glad I found you! My daughter has 5 Salli Mae loans..they want $900 a month. Impossible for her. She called and they will not adjust the payments. Is it possible for another company to “buy”these loans and perhaps the payment will be lower? I don’t know how to help her- my husband and I can’t take over this payments. A lawyer called her and told her that she could fight Sallie Mae with the possibility of getting the loans dismissed…sounds like a scam. What can we do to make her payment more manageable?

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Roseanne,
      Sorry to hear about your daughter’s difficulties. Listen to your gut regarding the phone call you received from a lawyer. Discharging student loans in bankruptcy is nearly impossible and probably not worth your time and effort. You are asking about consolidating with another company who could “buy” the loans and then offer lower interest/monthly payments. While I cannot explicitly recommend this, I can see situations where this might be beneficial. Have you heard of SoFi? They are one prominent and popular company that offers this service for those who qualify. Maybe start there? Wishing you luck!

  • just go into default…. that’s when they begin to talk to you. The collection people are the ones that have the ability to modify the loan, not customer service reps. Your credit rating will be in the hopper, but it probably is now anyway since you are paying less / late.

    • Thomas Bright

      That’s an interesting perspective. Ideally, most people want to prevent too much damage to their credit. You are right that people’s credit probably isn’t great if they’re struggling already, but I don’t think avoiding payments will solve the problem. There are better options that don’t bring more credit consequences.

  • Anonymous

    I am still in school and have a Sallie Mae loan and approx 45K in my 401K and was thinking of taking out roughly 20K to pay off my loan. Do you think this would be a good idea? My Sallie Mae loan is approx 23K and I also have 27K in federal loan.

    • Thomas Bright

      I certainly don’t know the full details of your situation, but in general the answer here is no. This is because the interest rates on student loans are typically fairly low. If we were talking about high levels of debt at 18-20% interest, like with credit cards, that would be a different story. In this case, though, it’s probably better to let your retirement keep growing and compounding, and you don’t want any sort of tax penalty on 401k withdrawals. Keep contributing up to the amount of any employer match and just try to make/save more to put toward your student loans to accelerate that payoff.

  • Hello I am finding it hard to repay my private student loans to sallow Mae.. I did the 12 month payment of just interest which was 12 months of making payments of 240.$ and now since that period is up my loan payments have ballooned to 475 a month and I have recently been laid off of my job due to cuts made by government… I wanted to know if you thought I could apply for a hardship of some kind? And also I have a aunt who has told me that if I go back to school and take 3 or so hours that I will not have to pay any loans because I would once again be a student.. She says she will help me pay for school at a junor college which is cheaper than the monthly payments… Is that true that if I go back I won’t have to pay?? If so how many hours would I have to take??

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Rodney,
      This could be a good place to start:
      There are a lot of forms there from Sallie Mae that can help answer some of these questions. One thing to note is that some of these arrangements are specifically for federal loans that Sallie Mae manages. If yours are private loans through Sallie Mae, the specifics could be different. It is probably best to call them directly and ask their policy about in-school deferment for your particular loan. I believe in many cases you need to be enrolled in at least six credit hours in order to defer. Keep in mind that you will also be incurring more debt in the additional student loans of going back to school. And, interest may be accruing during this deferment. These are all things you will need to ask/verify with Sallie Mae.

  • My husband lost his job and can not afford the $6,000 a month payment that Sallie Mae is requesting.Are private loans through Sallie Mae eligible for bankruptcy?

    • Thomas Bright

      Hi Amber,

      Thanks for reading and great question. It is possible to do this, but it is extremely difficult. You have to prove your hardship and show that there is basically no way to pay off the loans. This is extremely rare. I would suggest calling Sallie Mae immediately to discuss your situation, but don’t threaten them with bankruptcy, because they know that’s a highly unlikely result. Here’s an article to further explain bankruptcy and student loans:

  • Hello Thomas,
    I would like to start by saying this is a great article for those with private student loan debt. I myself have private student loans from both Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo. I would love to be able to consolidate them (all the private loans) and extend the term of the consolidation loan. Right now, my combined total monthly payment for the private loans is around $1700. Most of the loans are only ten-year, except for one Wells Fargo, which is a 15-year. This is a pretty high monthly payment for me right now considering I’ve only been out of college for a year, it took me 8 months to find a full-time job, and my monthly income basically goes to my student loans. Not that I’m complaining, it’s the American Dream, right?…(sarcasm intended haha)… However, it’s really unfortunate that fewer and fewer places are offering to consolidate private student loans. Do you have any advice on consolidating private student loans, places willing to do so, and any information as far as length of the loan or how to extend that to say 20 or even 25 years?

    Your response is much appreciated


    • Thomas Bright

      Hey Aaron, thanks for reading and commenting, and I’m glad you found the article to be helpful. The “American Dream” is certainly an expensive one these days, and $1700 per month isn’t exactly chump change. That’s a tough situation to be in!

      Wells Fargo might be a good place to start, especially since you already have a loan there. They offer a consolidation program, and it looks like the interest rates can be decent and the term is at 20 years. I think it would also be wise to look at Credit Unions. There is a website called CUStudentLoans…you could try that if all else fails, but I would recommend doing some research about credit unions in your area first. The interest rates there might surprise you, and you might find that they are more willing to work with you.

      Like with most programs in the credit world, your chance of success and the amount of flexibility given to you will be based on your credit score, income, and debt-to-income ratio. Hopefully you can at least get a lower interest rate and more manageable monthly payment, and it sounds like a 20-year term is doable.

      Best of luck!

  • Tiffany

    After speaking to Sallie Mae today 12.30.2013 at around 11:00 am I had let them know they made an error on pulling out money of my account the woman I spoke to said nothing can be done about it now. I told her I had to pay my other bills and I needed them to cancel the payment. I then told her that I don’t have a job and asked if there were any other options for me, and she said that I had already deferred my payments before and cannot do it again. and then said she cannot help me and said is there anything else?? well at that time I just assumed not seeing how she clearly didn’t want to help me. I read a paragraph on Sallie Mae hoping to see other options for their private loans and this jumped out at me.

    “Sallie Mae also offers reduced monthly payments, extended repayment schedules, and likely some less-advertised hardship programs. In their letter to the CFPB, they also state that they are in favor of rehabilitation programs for private loans that can help borrowers recover from default.”

    They didn’t say anything about “hard ship” programs and I think if someone doesn’t have a job it fits into that catagory of ‘hardship.’

    Ive spoken to there reps many times and it seems they can never help or answer any of my questions. I asked them how much of what I do pay actually goes to the primary loan and how much goes to interest. that rep couldn’t answer me. Just said I don’t know and I’m sure your loans will go down. (they haven’t) they have actually almost doubled ($25,000) now ($45,000). I am now searching for outside help and hoping to get someone involved because it doesn’t seem right to do all these programs and the sum of the loan never going down.

    Really this message is for anyone who is searching for an answer to let them know they are not alone. If this website can provide useful information I would be very grateful but so far I have try going through many Sallie Mae reps and even through my old school and for now they are not willing to help.

    • Thomas Bright

      I’m sorry to hear about your struggles Tiffany,

      First, let me say that if you feel like Sallie Mae has mistreated you in a way that violates the terms of your agreement with them, then reach out to the CFPB to file a formal complaint.

      Aside from this, I would just continue to remain in contact with Sallie Mae and continue to be frank about your financial situation. Ask about other arrangements you can make while you try to get back on your feet. Call at different times of the day and talk to as many different people as you can.

      Also, keep in mind that some programs allow interest to stop accruing and some don’t. It’s entirely possible that your account balance can continue to grow, even while you are in a “program.” It depends on what the interest is doing.

      Lastly, their reps should be able to tell you how much of your payment is going to principal v interest. That’s a fairly basic question and one that any rep at Sallie Mae should be able to give you. Continue to be firm with them, and you should be able to get the answers you need.

      Sorry again for the difficulties you are having right now, and here’s to hoping things will improve for you soon. All the best!

  • HELLO I have a loan through sallie mae last year had finnacial problems with the family and i got behind in paying my loan. IT was 103.00 a month . now im paying that back every month but they send me statements of 335.00 to pay .I can only do 103.00 a month. IM on a S Security of 1935.00 a month . plus my wife and grand child i have most of the time. I tryed to talk a they send me forms that do not help me to sign. What can I do ? THANK YOU

    • Thomas Bright

      Sorry to hear about this John. Are these private loans with Sallie Mae? Honestly, your best bet will be to call them again. I know it can be difficult but just try to remain patient with them and explain your full situation. If you can’t make headway and get the help you need, try calling again at a different time. A different representative may be able to help you. Of course, if you really feel like you are being treated unfairly, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
      Best of luck!