In 2013, I consolidated my student loans with MyFedLoan. For an all-too-brief period, I thought I had addressed all of my student loan issues. MyFedLoan paid off all my many smaller loans and turned them into one giant loan.
But then, the letter came. MyFedLoan was writing to inform me that I had one month until my first bill of over $2,000.00 was due! In retrospect, I should have just done my best to remain calm when I saw that amount. Instead, my heart raced, I panicked, and I feared that I didn’t qualify for the Income-Based Repayment plan (IBR) for which I had applied. Goodbye house, good credit, and life as I knew it! I began to contemplate how long I could live on ramen noodles alone.
Figuring Out My Student Loan Repayment Issues
I immediately called MyFedLoan, hoping there was an error. Instead of the simple error I hoped for, I got several complicated ones.
A friendly MyFedLoan representative informed me that they sent this bill before processing my repayment plan application. He said that they had processed my Income-Contingent Repayment plan (ICR) application, and I would owe about $300 a month. I replied that $300 a month was much better than $2000 a month. But, I had to inquire as to why he kept calling it ICR? I applied to IBR.
His response was, “they are pretty much the same thing. It’s just a different name based upon the loans that went in.” I politely replied, “they are both based on income, but IBR has far better terms, and I am qualified for IBR. Furthermore, IBR is exactly what I applied for.”
He said that their records indicated I applied for ICR and not IBR. Knowing this mistake would cost me hundreds each month, I asked for a copy of their records. He informed me that they didn’t have the actual paperwork, just the results. I said, “this has to be a mistake. How can we get this fixed?” He said they could process a new plan application, but it would take a couple of months to get it processed. Realizing this call was not going anywhere productive, I thanked the guy on the phone for his time and began searching for the proof that I applied for IBR.
Proving My Case
I visited the Direct Loan (now found at Federal Student Aid) website because I applied for IBR as part of my loan consolidation through them. There, I found copies of all of my application materials and, sure enough, there was my IBR application. I noticed that the application had forms for both IBR and ICR. Some questions were common to both plans, and some were for each specific program. I clearly answered all the IBR questions and left all the ICR-specific questions blank. With this proof, I was confident that there was a data entry error on their end.
I called MyFedLoan again, this time with proof in hand. The girl I spoke with on the second call was far more knowledgeable than the first representative. After about 30 minutes, I was able to convince her of my story. I explained that they needed to address this issue right away because I didn’t want to delay repayment. I knew any delay in starting repayment would delay the coveted student loan forgiveness. Once she fully grasped my situation, she said she would have to escalate my call because she lacked the authority to change my repayment plan.
Once escalated, I spoke with someone very helpful. This representative told me that I would have to resubmit everything because they did not have the original documents. However, if I faxed it all to her within the hour, she would process it that night. She even offered to call me the second it was complete. A few hours after a costly FedEx Office trip, I received a call stating that my IBR was processed and I didn’t owe them $2000 or even $300. Success at last!
Some Lessons Learned from My Experience
Some customer service people are better than others. If you don’t get the results you are after following the first call, call back later and hope your luck improves.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. If there is an issue, make noise until it gets fixed. Note: This is not an excuse to be rude or mean. Keeping cool is vital.
Customer service people spend all day on the phone being told they are wrong. Don’t just tell them they are wrong. Walk them through your logic and show them something is wrong. At the risk of sounding like an obnoxious lawyer, I say the following: Do your homework and be prepared to prove your case. You need to know what you are talking about and have the documents to back yourself up.
Has anyone ever had a similar experience with their lender? How did you get it resolved?