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  1. #1
    LoanCSR is offline Registered User
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    Finally, this trove of useless information can be used to help people

    I am a CSR for a federal loan servicer. Because of this, I'm never going to talk about specifics of who I am, where I work, specific my-company policies, etc.

    I want to use this information for good because so many people have so many questions. So, I'm here. Going to post up a topic for questions if enough people think it's a good idea.

    Nice to meet everyone! I have a degree from a bricks-and-mortar school in something only tangentially related to my work at...haha, not gonna let it slip that easy.

    Possible topics on which I could wax eloquent for hours - repayment schedules, the evils of IBR, ICR, and ISR, the awesomeness of schedule 2 and 5, the fastest possible way to pay down your loans, a servicer that doesn't charge for any kind of payment, the only way to get people who speak English at Sallie Mae, the five ways to make sure I fight for you, why private loans are death incarnate (if you're here, you already know that) and why no one should ever consolidate until after their grace period.

    Looking forward to it.

  2. #2
    emissary is offline Registered User
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    This is incredible! Welcome to the boards! I assume that because you are able to post in concise English that you are not, in fact, a troll, like most people in your business. (this coming from a glorified car salesman).

    I have had the great pleasure of defaulting in the past with Sallie Mae, and have learned a great deal both about the overall student loan world, and about loan servicing companies in the great state of Texas. Luckily, I was able to guide the bureaucratic labyrinth of hoops to jump through, and am now out of default. But at least I'm back in school now and racking up more loans, that's cool. I would be highly interested in picking your brain, just to ensure that what information I have been able to glean is not misguided.

    Question: are you pursuing further educational goals, or are you just here to impart your wisdom? Either of these is fine, just curious.

    Again, welcome!

  3. #3
    SteveFoerster is offline Resident Gadfly
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    Well, go on now... we're listening!

    -=Steve=-
    BS, Info Sys concentration, Charter Oak State College
    MA in Educational Tech, George Washington University
    PhD in Leadership, U. of the Cumberlands (in progress)
    More at http://stevefoerster.com

  4. #4
    Kizmet is offline Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by emissary View Post
    that's cool.
    Don't drink and post!

  5. #5
    LoanCSR is offline Registered User
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    @emissary - I am not a troll, just someone who got swept up in the current economic situation and had to take a job out of his major. I'm definitely here to help, not to support the loan servicers. I already have my bachelors and my field does not require additional education - there's just no one hiring in it.

    For my first segment, let's blow the lid off default.

    You default at 360 days. They say 270, but that's when you're reported as being in default. 361 is when it actually happens.

    Consequences of default include - I-9 credit reporting, wage garnishment, income tax garnishment, ineligibility for federal student aid or federal employment. The Department of Education can theoretically take your house, but we're not allowed to say that because it's comparatively rare.

    Once a loan defaults, it usually can be rehabilitated. This takes (i'm ballparking, because it varies) at least nine on-time monthly payments and an arrangement with the default servicer. There are limits, of course.

    If you default, you lose and your servicer loses. So if you are really delinquent and call your servicer with a desire not to default, they'll walk you through every option - all the federal servicers are measured on their default percentage, so management loves when we fix severely delinquent accounts.

    There's a start - more to come later! I do best with specific questions or topic ideas, so fire away - I want to write what you want to read.

  6. #6
    Maniac Craniac is offline Moderator
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    I don't know what great deed we did to deserve your ascension, but I, for one, am happy you are here!
    BA, Social Sciences ---- The University Formerly Known As Thomas Edison State College

    "If you aren't going to use your heart, then what's the difference if it gets broken?"

    - Kevin McCallister (portrayed by Macaulay Culkin), Home Alone 2: Lost In New York

  7. #7
    emissary is offline Registered User
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    Don't drink and post!
    Watch me.

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  9. #8
    Kizmet is offline Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by emissary View Post
    Watch me.
    If I have to watch you then I might as well join you.

  10. #9
    LoanCSR is offline Registered User
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    Deferment vs forbearance

    The most important difference between deferment and forbearance occurs with any subsidized loans - Staffords, mostly. Subsidized loans do not accrue interest while on deferment.

    This is why we, as csrs, push deferment over forbearance if you can't pay.

    If you just have plus loans (or some version thereof, no plus variants are subsidized) or only unsubsidized loans, there's no difference between deferment and forbearance .... except where the time comes from.

    A lot of times people will call in and ask for a forbearance because they're not working. They qualify, but it's not their best option. They're better served being on unemployment deferment (as long as they're looking for FT work in any field in the USA and are registered wtih a public or private employment agency) because unemployment deferment can only be used when you meet those two criteria.

    Since temporary hardship forbearance time can be used to cover any delinquency for any reason (literally, we don't care why, even if you apply online) you're always better off using deferment time if you qualify.

    Also, this stuff isn't self-evident. You don't get economic hardship deferment because you're having a hardship. (Also, if you use this wording on the phone with me, I will hit mute and laugh out loud at you)

    You get it because you're either working full-time and making less than 150% of the poverty line in pretax gross monthly income, or because you're getting state or federal public assistance for you OR your dependent OR unborn children.

    Unemployment deferment is easier - working less than 30 hours a week, looking for fulltime work, registered with an employment agency or resume on Careerbuilder, OR receiving unemployment benefits.

    Nothing drives me crazier when someone tries to argue that they don't qualify for something because they don't understand it. You'd think they'd defer to the person who does this eight hours a day.

    Also, if you call in because you can't pay, just lay it out there - your sob story is literally irrelevent. It doesn't matter if you can't pay because you're a drug addict and you just spent all your money on drugs versus because your child's in the hospital with inoperable brain cancer. If I need to know why you can't pay - and I only would to see what options are available - I'll ask.

    That said, if you've been on active duty recently, or have a traumatic brain injury, or anything having to do with the disability I have (it's rare, so i can't go into detail) I've been known to argue with my supervisor in an attempt to help. But that's just me.

    Also, yes, your inschool deferment is supposed to update automatically. It doesn't always, and some servicers (cough ACS cough) are notorious for sucking at updating it. (If your loan was/is serviced by ACS, get it out of there immediately.)

    If you've ever had to update your enrollment info, assume it must be done every semester.

    I don't know what semester your loans are for. We don't think about it that way. I see the disbursement date and the amount.

    Glad people are digging this - hope it's helpful! If y'all want me to tackle something specific, do leave a note. Lately I've just been coming here after a day on the phones and writing whatever comes to mind.

  11. #10
    LoanCSR is offline Registered User
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    If you are with Fed Loan Servicing, you won't be charged for any kind of payment. To my knowledge, they're the only servicer with this policy. They do not, however, take payments with credit or debit cards. That can be frustrating.

    Sallie Mae's customer service department is in India. Their collections department is in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. So if you want to speak with a Sallie rep and you are not of Indian descent, call in and if you get someone with an accent, say "I'm sorry, the last guy was trying to transfer me to Collections, but the call dropped. Can you transfer me?"

    Sallie's collections reps have the ability to waive late fees and payment fees. They are more likely to do this if you tell them at the beginning, "I am your easiest payment today if you can waive my late fee and processing charge."

    Schedule 2 and 5 are the greatest repayment schedules ever. Your servicer may not allow them or may only offer them in certain situations. I have S2 on my Sallie loans - it's interest-only payments for two years, then a return to level payments (your previous payment).

    The fastest way to pay down your loans is to lower the payments as much as possible and then pay as much as possible toward them. Make sure any payments beyond the installment amount will go toward principal. Sometimes it goes toward future payments instead.

    Consolidation destroys your grace period. So consolidate after your grace (six months post-enrollment when payments are not required). If you're enrolled less than half time or not at all at any point for more than six months during your enrollment, you have likely used up your grace period. I know you didn't know it was happening, but most people don't. The only way to get it back is prove you were eligible for a qualified deferment during the time you were using grace - which means the only way it ever happens is if you were enrolled but your school didn't update the NSC, National Student Clearinghouse.

    No more loans tonight - but I want to keep going - what do y'all want to know?

  12. #11
    emissary is offline Registered User
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    @LoanCSR - no offense meant. I am a car salesman. Also not my major, but, we do what we have to do. Feel free to tell me your dealership horror stories, and I can provide great insight. You are offering your services as a person knowledgeable about student loans; surely you expect a certain amount of ribbing to come from a forum filled with education junkies.

    Let me tell you briefly about my story, and you can either validate me, poke holes in my logic, or ignore me. But, I would value your input. I have already moved beyond this situation, but perhaps you can tell me how valid my information is. When I was attempting to resolve my defaulted loans (and yes they were truly defaulted - wage garnishments, the whole works), I received a lot of information, and most of it was bad. My servicer (Van Roo, at the time) would tell me that TG was not allowing consolidations, and that I must go through rehab. I was ok with that, except that at the time, TG explicitly said that rehabs were not available due to the lack of secondary buyers on the market (i.e. there was no liquidity in the market, and the loan, once rehabbed, could not be reassigned). So, when I confronted Van Roo about this, they said that "yeah, that's true, but if you just go ahead and do it with us anyway, then we'll try to make sure that your loan is pulled out of default somewhere between 9 and 24 months from now." Well, I was all in for resolving my loan (needed eligibility for grants, and needed eligibility for various certifications, most of which are unavailable when an individual has loans in default), but, and this was a big but, I was not willing to enter into an agreement with my servicer (which they said they could not put in writing) whereby they could not guarantee me that the loans would be pulled out of default in a timely manner.

    After riding that merry-go-round for a while, I stumbled across another layer of management within the servicer, and was told that "yeah, I know the other guys told you that consolidation wasn't available, but it actually is,and all you have to do to get it started is send us a payment of intent." They wanted me to stroke a check for x amount of dollars for them to send me paperwork so that they could get the consolidation started. Could they show me this agreement in writing ahead of time? "Uuuuhhhhh, no we can't do that." So, again I was at an impasse.

    Then one day I stumbled across verbage in the USDE website that said I could skip my servicer altogether and go straight through the USDE for my consolidation. No fees. No payment of intent. And everything that I was going to agree to was right there in front of me, in writing, for me to review and make rational decisions upon. Wow, what a novel concept.

    Of course, my servicer continued to keep in touch with me, asking why I would not consolidate through them. When I did get to speak with rational, intelligent, management staff, and informed them that I did not feel comfortable utilizing their services because of the blatant untruths that were constantly thrown at me, their response, essentially, was "well, apparently we have some training issues, and I thank you for pointing those out to us."

    I know that this rambling is not cohesive and/or professional, but here's the guts of my experience. The loan service companies are not obligated to tell the truth to the borrower. There is no recourse against them (the OAG in Texas was uninterested in my tale), and they want your money. They do not have training issues; they are actually quite well trained, and are adept at collecting various ancillary fees that are neither required nor prohibited by the USDE. Were I not such an anti-establishment long haired hippie, I would still be in my open-ended rehab period, and would not be on the educational track that I am on right now. It bothers me to think of the number of people who were (are) in the same situation as me, and because they listen to what their (seemingly authoritative) loan servicer tells them on the phone, feel trapped into taking whichever option they are told to.

    So, now I have consolidated. I am taking out a few more (a hugely unfortunate necessity) to finish out my BMS and hopefully won't need any for my Master's. Because I'm enrolled full time, I'm in deferral (drawing 2.9% on the unsub's). When I finish out, I will be a teacher , and will not be making great money. I'm counting on the IBR to keep me livable while I teach in a high demand field in an economically disadvantaged district (most of them in Texas qualify). After 10 years, my loans will be forgiven.

    That's the plan, anyways. Now, please show me where the holes can be poked in my plan.

  13. #12
    emissary is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kizmet View Post
    If I have to watch you then I might as well join you.
    DEBAUCHERY! YAY!

  14. #13
    emissary is offline Registered User
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    I don't know what great deed we did to deserve your ascension, but I, for one, am happy you are here!
    ManiacCraniac,

    I'm not sure if your reference was intentional (or perhaps misread by me), but that's hilarious. Nothing like a little Dante first thing Saturday morning.

  15. #14
    LoanCSR is offline Registered User
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    Emissary - You're pretty much on the money here. I would take advantage of qualified deferment time - time on deferments counts as time in repayment for IBR, so see if you qualify for an economic hardship deferment once you graduate. Also, if you're in an economically disadvantaged area, you should be looking at teacher loan forgiveness - it's specifically for people in certain specialties in poor areas. studentaid.ed.gov, put teacher loan forgiveness in the search box.

    A lot of your stuff likely applies to before I was in the game. I would disagree, however, with your statement about training. I don't trust anything I'm told on the phone. I (almost) never lie on the phone, and never about anything important. But I've heard some truly awful stuff - reps yelling at people, hanging up on a woman who was crying because she's permanently disabled and doesn't understand her options and saying a previous rep farked something up and then failing to fix it, yet telling the customer it had been fixed. You can ask how long they've been working there, but remember, being mean to a rep will not get you a nice supervisor.

    At AES, late fees on federal loans actually pay ahead the loan - meaning if you pay five bucks in late fees, that money goes toward your next payment. A popular tactic among some reps there is to offer to waive the late fees to get people to pay. I think Sallie's the same way.

    Since this post seems to call for it, here's what I will lie about on the phone.

    1. That my screen shows the number we're calling/you're calling from. I need to get you to say it, and the fastest way is to say it's not showing on my screen.

    2. When I have to vouch for the ability of everyone at the call center. I'm not going to tell you the truth, which is that were these my loans, I'd trust myself, a handful of reps, and the supervisors to do it 100% perfectly. I'm going to tell you everyone here is very well-trained and we undergo background checks. Both of which are true.

    That's it.

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  17. #15
    LoanCSR is offline Registered User
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    Random student loan braindump - what I wish people knew before I talk to them

    1. I am required to do certain things on every call. If it sounds like I've said it a million times, that's because I have. I will help you, just respect my need to get everything out. My job depends on it.

    2. Don't lie. I can tell.

    3. I'm not asking if you can make payments because I want to be mean, but because I want to find your best option. If you can make lower payments with your budget, it'll reduce the interest accruing and help pay down your loan better than a forbearance.

    4. If you're going to be unreasonable and scream at me and request a supervisor, that's fine. But you will have to wait on hold, and I may have to physically locate someone to take the call. It may take a while. This is not vindictiveness - it's a floor full of reps who need help and not enough people to help them. Also, keep in mind they became a sup by doing my job for longer than I did it, and they are unlikely to take anywhere near as much shit from you as I have.

    5. I'm a human. This job can make you bitter. Basic human courtesy will get you far.

    6. I do not take this work personally. Your payment amount has nothing to do with whether I like you. I calculate the lowest possible payment amount when asked for a lower payment. None of this is personal. "Your loan is delinquent" does not equal "You are a bad person."

    7. If you need to call your student loan servicer, please do so when you are able to hear the call. Ideally, somewhere you have reception. I know this is a pipe dream, but you stand a better chance of understanding what's happening if I don't have to repeat everything. And I will not curse your name.

    8. And for WHAT's sake, have a dang pen. That works. And paper. And your credit card. I don't care if the cat was playing with it.

    Income-based repayment sucks. You must reapply yearly. You can qualify for zero payments if your income is low enough, but if your income rises enough, you won't qualify for income-based anymore and your payments will go up a lot, especially if you have a shorter term remaining. It's the subprime of student loan repayment plans.

    Disability discharge (new federal form out, btw, just recently, I think it's simpler) is great if you're permanently disabled and unable to work as a result of it. It takes three years to finish. It is the most-denied, most-complicated, most fucking annoying form possible. All I know about it is based on my general ability to fill out forms and reread denial reasons from account notes.

    feeeeeeed meeee ideaaasss

  18. #16
    emissary is offline Registered User
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    Besides the teacher loan forgiveness program, I also hope to qualify for the public service loan forgiveness program. This will actually write off all my loans after 10 years of public service, and does not appear to be contingent upon me teaching in a low-income area. Any common problems with this program you're aware of?

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