I'm Stef, a recent graduate of a public college who took out private student loans through Sallie Mae before the credit crunch. Despite my school's relatively low tuition and my full-time job, I still needed the extra help in order to pay for my rent, utilities, and groceries because my parents had passed away. Sallie Mae loaned me money with a 9.75 percent interest rate because I didn't have anyone who could co-sign.
I graduated in May with honors, but even with an advanced degree in a technical field, I still haven't found full-time work. I'm doing everything I can to avoid defaulting on my loans, but Sallie Mae has charged me hundreds of dollars in extra fees because I've had to delay my payments (called forbearance). Federal loans allow the unemployed to defer payments without any fees, so the same kindness is not too much to ask from America's largest private lender.
Since May, I've already had to pay $300 to Sallie Mae in "forbearance fees." ($50 per loan for every 3 month block. Consolidation is not an option.) Not a dime has gone into my loan principal. Meanwhile, the interest on my loans keeps growing -- meaning that Sallie Mae will cash in two times -- once with the extra fees they're charging me, and again when I pay the interest that accrues as I look for work. As an unemployed person looking for work, I need every extra dollar I have to pay for rent, electricity and groceries. But Sallie Mae is preying on people like me and cashing in on the fact that we need more time to find work before we can repay our student loans.
If I don't find full-time work before the end of November, Sallie Mae is going to charge me another $150 in "forbearance fees" -- while my total debt continues to grow by $500.
Please join me in asking Sallie Mae to stop double-dipping. Sign my petition calling on Sallie Mae CEO Albert Lord to stop charging me a $50 forbearance fee as I'm unemployed and cannot make a loan payment right now.