Dear Senator Kennedy and Rep. Miller,
I write to with great thanks that you are taking a lead at the private student loan industry. As a working class 18 year old, I entered college knowing that I would take student loans. It wasn't option, and when getting a college education was literally saving my life from being underemployed, I had to embrace that debt burden. I didn't quite understand the complexity of interest, nor did I understand the difference between Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, or Private Loans. Since I was the first person in my family to attend college, I didn't have the guidance that I can now provide ( and so much to his weekly chargrim) to my high school aged cousin. It sadden my Mom that she wasn't able to afford college, and for some reason, the student aid office believed that a single parent making less than $40,000 a year could afford to pay $10,000 or $20,000 a year for college.
That said, as a freshman, I signed away at the dotted lines- more or less signing my life away to Sallie Mae. My college did not inform that there we more than one option. I didn't know that I could go to other banks and try to compete for better deals. I thought that the "Mae ' meant that it was similar to Fannie Mae and that they were providing a public service. My college aid office failed to inform that I should try to get the maximum Pell or Stafford loans before I took out private loans. Sallie Mae was my gatekeeper to college. If I would have been offered a seminar on student loans that was impartial, I would have listened to every word and try to figure it all out. But, I trusted the people who were meant to help me. That was back in 199-.
Now that I am young professional- I am surrounded by peers who came from middle and upper class families who are unburned by student loans. While I am paying, most of the time- some months its hard to pay- $1000/ month on student loan, they are saving for their homes, traveling, and working at lesser paying jobs that are super important to society. If I didn't have student loans, I would have moved to New Orleans in 2005 to volunteer indefinetly to rebuild New Orleans. But, I have to work every single day to pay for a college eductation- that with interest- will cost more almost twice as much than my peers from upper class families pay for college.
I want to comment on collections for a second. Sallie Mae will call me on my cell phone every five minutes for hours at a time. They call my reference three or four times a day. They "loose" my information just so that contact other people to find me. I refused to give them my work information. When I hear from them, I feel like nothing matters- that I will never be able to own my home, that I will never to able to save for retirement, my whole life existsts to pay back student loans.
I am heartened to hear that many colleges are now offering free education to students who come from families with less $60,000 a year income. I am happy for them but wish that the schools would have smartened up before I entered college.
Please take Sallie Mae to task for taking advantage of vulnerable young adults. I just wanted to fulfill the dreams instilled in me by my hard working Mom. I just wanted what middle and upper class children take for granted- an unlimited future.
Also, I have gotten several requests to consolidate my federal loans from private loan companies. Can I file a complaint anywhere? Who had the right to let anyone know that I had student loans?
Thank you so much for your work. I hope that you can find away to help future students since no one can really help me.