And just as I suspected the left had did not, in fact, have any idea what the right hand was doing. I am still sorting out student loan repayment issues and I’ve yet to make a payment, but I think I’m just a few steps closer to getting all this mess straightened out.
Friday I found out that I was very right to be suspicious of SallieMae showing up so late (and uninvited!) to the party. Although I did my due diligence by calling them and asking specific questions to understand what was going on, they LIED to me, didn’t understand what I was asking, or both. Turns out that SallieMae has “some” of my loans–several others still remain with the original servicer. Also, SallieMae does NOT, contrary to what they told me when I asked about it, track for Public Service credits. In short, nothing of the process I began since October has yet to be completed and I had to ask for ANOTHER forbearance to give all the parties time to square things up.
I now know that fedloan Servicing is THE only servicer (at press time) that tracks Public Service credits. Don’t let any other servicer tell you that they can do this for you because if you make payments to them, those won’t count toward your Public Service credits (I was supposed to start paying SallieMae on Feb 1, so that is why I had to get a forebearance from them.) Someone along the line told me this about fedloan, which is what raised a red flag for me when I started getting the SallieMae letters.
If you’re working for a public entity it’s really important to get this straight from the beginning so that all payments you make count for Public Service credits. Last month I was making calls, not sure to which place, but at some point I asked whether I needed to turn in any paperwork for this and whomever I was speaking to that day said I didn’t need to worry about filling in any paperwork until I was ready to claim loan forgiveness. Wrong. As loan forgiveness has certain very specific criteria, there is paperwork that I needed to submit in order to start having my payments tracked. Luckily, the person I talked with at fedloan servicing on Friday cleared up the confusion. I got my form signed by my boss and mailed it that afternoon.
The other thing that I found out was that even though I filled out the paperwork to consolidate ALL my loans to one servicer, they got consolidated, but were sent to SallieMae and not fedloan. Could this be because I didn’t yet have my Loan Forgiveness paperwork in? Maybe. But that’s how SallieMae got in the mix.
I think what added to the confusion was that I had to consolidate my loans. That meant I had two processes going at the same time: the consolidation and then the paperwork for them to set my repayment amount. The consolidation was important because (when it’s all done) I will have only ONE company to deal with instead of two or three; that means ONE monthly payment. Also, you can only get Public Service credit for what are called “direct” loans. I can’t even begin to explain what that means, but suffice it to say my newly consolidated SallieMae loan has been converted to a “direct” loan and so now when fedloan gets my Loan Forgiveness paperwork they will automatically assume my SallieMae loans, assess the total and set my monthly payment amount. Finally. They will also keep track of my payments to give me Public Service credit and will evaluate my finances annually to adjust my payment amount based on my income. It will be this way for at least 10 years.
You can see how the more servicers you have handling loans, the more confusing it gets. That’s why I said, document, document, document your calls with these people. Keep all your paperwork together and create a folder in your email so you can put all student loan communications in one place. It is so easy to get confused. Hopefully, this is soon to be sorted out.
In other news: I’m still getting settled in my new job. These last two weeks are the first since I started where we’ve not had any special projects in the office. We are “just” handling the open record requests that keep coming in while simultaneously finding time for all the work that comes with receiving responses back from the Attorney General on some of our matters. Sometimes I feel like Lucy in the Candy Factory.
I seem to have inherited a few challenging cases and sorting out their issues takes time and research and organization. I spent a few days last week working on a legal memo on a question brought to me by my boss. He told me that my written response would likely be sent up the chain pretty high, so I really wanted to be sure I did my best work. I was pretty pleased with the final result and got a very nice email from the boss telling me that I’d done an “Excellent” job. Then my little memo got hand-delivered up to the top floor of the building.
We’ll just have to wait and see where things go from here….