Sallie Mae: Should I trust that wench?
April 12, 2008 2:17 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible Sallie Mae is scamming me?

Okay, so I just graduated this past December. In all honesty, I'm not the best with financial matters and student loans are rather perplexing to me. Complicating the situation is that it took me about ten years and three colleges (with several lengthy breaks in between) to graduate. I know I'm going to be owing soon so I'm just waiting for the bills to come around so I can pay up or make other arrangements.

The thing is, I recently received a letter from Sallie Mae saying I was delinquent on a loan. As far as I know, though, I don't have any loans with Sallie Mae. I had one from my first school with them but it was paid off years ago. And as far as I know I consolidated all my loans (except one small private loan with Chase) with Direct Loans last summer before the interest rate hike. I also have received absolutely no bills or notice that I owe anything to Sallie Mae until now.

I am aware that Sallie Mae has recently come under fire for shady practices. Obviously, I'm going to call them but are there certain questions I should ask that will help me determine the legitimacy of this debt? What proof can I ask for?

Also, if anyone has any links or recommendations for student loan organization/simplification tips for the financially illiterate, I'm all ears.
posted by Jess the Mess to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Many lenders "sell" their student loans to Sallie Mae, so it's quite possible that your loans have been sold to them.

That said, if you graduated in December, you should probably have until May before repayment begins. I would call Direct Loans and Chase first, find out if they have transferred your loans to Sallie Mae. Then call Sallie Mae and get the skinny on the alleged delinquency. I'd say it's likely your Chase loan is being handled by Sallie Mae now and either they're made a clerical error or you might have missed a payment or payment increase (especially if you didn't consolidate the Chase loan). FWIW, my Chase loans were sold to Sallie Mae soon after I graduated.

I find that checking in on my loans via the Sallie Mae website often puts my mind at ease when I fear I'm either delinquent, being overcharged etc. They tend to keep pretty clear and comprehensible records on there, and you can see exactly how much you owe them, when they acquired your loans (if they did), how much interest you've paid, and my favorite: how much you'd have to pay within the next 10 days to pay off your entire debt.

You can email me via MeFi if you want more info (I can refer you to a book I wrote that breaks a lot of this down in very simple language).

I have a feeling you will find out that one or more of your loans has been sold. The shady practices are indeed alarming, but I wouldn't be scared that you've been scammed. Check the website now, and call them on Monday to sort it all out.
posted by Drohan at 2:52 PM on April 12, 2008

It's also possible to directly specify a lender when you consolidate your student loan in the direct loan program, so if you weren't really paying attention, you could have consolidated through Sallie Mae.
MYTH: Direct Loan borrowers must consolidate through the Direct Loan program.

FACT: Direct Loan borrowers are able to choose among any consolidation lender, including the Direct Loan program or any private-sector lender. They will find richer borrower benefits by shopping among private-sector lenders.

posted by Roger Dodger at 2:58 PM on April 12, 2008

Borked link - Sorry.
posted by Roger Dodger at 3:01 PM on April 12, 2008

Back in the day, I consolidated through what appeared to be a private lender and found out after the fact that Sallie Mae was servicing my loans (i.e., sending me bills). I probably could have found out beforehand, but a lot of consolidators will just bundle loans for Sallie Mae and take a cut along the way. Sallie Mae gets paid to do the hard work, the consolidator gets paid to do the marketing.
posted by Leon-arto at 4:02 PM on April 12, 2008

After I consolidated my student loans with the state of Illinois they went and sold 1/2 of it to Sallie Mae.

I received letters of delinquency about 1-2 months before I was sent an actual bill.

So, I wouldn't worry. In about a month they will probably send you a nice bill with late fees and *hopefully* an account number so you can pay them.
posted by aetg at 4:38 PM on April 12, 2008

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