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Chime in on private student loans


For the last month, student loans have kept us pretty busy. We released our Student Debt Repayment Assistant to help borrowers understand their options when repaying their loans. We launched Know Before You Owe: student loans with the Department of Education to get your feedback on a draft Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. And we’re not done yet.

Today, we’re launching another student loan initiative with the Department of Education, and we want your input. The CFPB has published a Notice and Request for Information Regarding Private Education Loans and Private Educational Lenders in the Federal Register. The title may be a mouthful, but the reality is simple: we need public input on important questions about private student loans. It doesn’t matter whether you have two sentences or two pages of input – we want to hear from you.

Please help us by telling us about your experiences with private student loans.

The private student loan market is one of the least understood credit markets. We know there are all sorts of private student loans: some from banks and credit unions, some from schools, and some from other types of lenders. We know that lots of students use these loans every year. But to make sure the market works for students, lenders, and schools, we need a lot more information. Your stories can tell us more about how the private student loan market functions (or doesn’t), how and why you got a private loan, and how it is (or is not) working for you.

We’d love to hear from students, families, school counselors, lenders, servicers, and anyone who has anything to do with private student loans. When we talk about the private student loan market, we’re really talking about all of your experiences. Hearing your stories will help us understand how people make decisions. The goal is to have all the facts as we prioritize what we do to make sure that the market works for students, lenders, and schools.

Our team on this initiative includes my colleagues from all corners of the CFPB: research economists, fair lending experts, financial analysts, and the Private Education Loan Ombudsman. We’ll be preparing a report based on data gathered by us and the Department of Education. We’ll also submit our report to Congress, as required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. We plan to submit this report this summer, and we want your input reflected in it.

Click here to get started. Read through the notice and submit whatever information you think might be helpful. The notice will be published in the Register on Friday. To comment today, send comments in any of the methods identified under “Addresses” on page one of the notice. We’re accepting comments for 60 days.

And please help us get the word out on this initiative by sharing it with Facebook, Twitter, or email below. You can also sign up here to get updates on our student loan initiatives.

Thanks for your participation, and we’ll post further information on this blog as we make progress on this report.

Rick Hackett serves as the CFPB’s Assistant Director for Installment Lending Markets.

  • Amylkaplan33

    Hello. I am a former student at the Art Institutes a “school” under EDMC who is currently being sued $11 billion by the Federal Government for fraud. I am currently in $80,000 in debt (and still have no diploma) I was misled when enrolling at the school about graduation and employment rates, credit transferability and quality of the school itself. I am now stuck with debt that there is no way I will be able to pay off. I am a single mom, full time student (at a different college now) and I feel victimized. These schools should be shut down! I feel like in trying to improve my future this institute destroyed it. 

  • Michaelspeck

    I have three degrees, including an MA and a JD.  When I graduated from law school in 99 all of the offers, with the exception of those from the upper eschelion firms that essentially own you, were for little money, leaving next to nothing for living expenses.  Now I am making a decent living, and can pay my loans under the IBR program, but repayment is a distant dream.  As a result I am unable to assist my son with his education expenses (thereby effectively making the debt trans-generational), or buy a home, start my own practice, etc.  As a macro-economic problem, those of us saddled with this debt are unable to fully participate in the economy.

    Then there is the moral argument, setting aside that apparently ad-hoc arguments by economists regarding the moral hazard (generally if not always made as a mere hypothesis with no data to support the argument), the three previous generations of Americans participating in the great society enjoyed affordable education, easily obtained without incurring significant debt.  Then those very same generations cut public support for education, and then established and profited from corporations which lent money to their children and grandchildren, who were unable to afford the same quality of education as their parents and grandparents without assuming debt.

    To add injury to insult, these prior generations of fine citizens (contemptuous sarcasm intended) set up for profit education entities, and then proceeded to use puffery of the worst kind to induce thousands of young people, veterans, or persons seeking a second career outside of sectors gutted by incompetence and greed, to incur enormous debts that they, the “educators” knew or should have known their “students” would never, ever be able to repay.

    We will set aside our anger, and contempt, for the hypocrisy, greed, and dishonesty of those who came before us, who profit from us, and who seek to marginalize us.  All we ask is for a level playing field.  Give us that, and history will remember you more kindly.  If not, neither history or we will be kind.

  • Anonymous

    Loaners (private and government) should be more detailed in the way they report defaults to the credit agencies. A good friend of mine had a lot of trouble getting a mortgage because someone with the same first and last name (but not middle) had defaulted on her student loan. 

  • Sonia

    Hi, I have private student loans through Sallie Mae. My original debt started at 56K. My loan has already grown to 76K (due to the 14K and growing capitualized interest). I am paying interest, but still continue to see my loan grow and grow. I am more than happy to pay back my original principal. On my repayment terms, it states I will pay back my original principal four or five times. The private loan market is full of loan sharks! It is unjust that our debt was stripped of bankruptcy protections, SOLs, and usury laws. The companies don’t make efforts to keep borrows out of default. Why? THEY ALL PROFIT AND ADD BOAT LOADS OF USURIOUS FEES ONTO OUR ORIGINAL LOAN. 

  • Nick Keith

    I am a victim of a for-profit school that sold me a private student loan that I cannot afford to repay. I borrowed $60,000 to attend a culinary school; a school that has settled a class action lawsuit admitting that it lied to students about the value of the program and the statistics of the number of graduates getting employment in the culinary field. I was lied to about the terms of the private student loan. After completing the program, my first job in the culinary field paid $10 per hour. It took me three months to save enough money to make the first student loan payment of $1,300. I spoke to Sallie Mae. I wrote to Sallie Mae. But Sallie Mae would not refinance my debt with a reasonable interest rate or reasonable payments. They maintained my private loan balance at 19% variable interest rate and monthly payments of over $1,000 per month. I never made another payment. I could not afford to make a student loan payment because my choice each month was to either pay my rent or make a student loan payment. I spoke to a bankruptcy attorney as well as a CPA, and they both gave me the same answer: don’t make any payments. Both of them told me they were seeing the same problem with  many of their clients; they both said the unfair loan tactics would need to be addressed by Congress. They told me not to make any payments because all of the money would go towards interest, and they advised me to wait until Congress changed the laws. That was in 2005. My private student loan, held by Sallie Mae, has been in default for sometime, and the balance due is nearly three times the amount that I borrowed. After working in the culinary field for almost two years, I was injured at work and became permanently disabled in 2007. I have not been able to work since that time. I have no means to pay my student loans. The school has admitted in court that it lied to students. Sallie Mae purchased my private student loan as well as several federal student loans just before I finished my culinary degree. Under the new federal laws in 2005, no other lender could talk to me or help me refinance my debt. Before I went to school, I had zero debt (I had paid off everything.), and my credit score was 750. Today, my credit rating is below poor and all of my debts from student loans to credit cards are in default, but I cannot file bankruptcy until Congress restores the ability to discharge student loan debt. Right now, there is no hope for me to achieve the American dream. I will never be able to own a home. I will not be able to save for retirement. I cannot go back to school for a real education. My total defaulted debt right now is more debt than I have ever borrowed and repaid in my lifetime. My story has been told by the national media on TV and in print; my story has been featured in a documentary about the student loan crisis. Today, I am living on my social security disability income and have less than $4 left in my checking account until the next check arrives in about two weeks. Every day, I walk around the public areas of town collecting cans and bottles. I get groceries at the local food bank. I have sold or lost 99% of everything I ever owned. I need debt relief in order to even begin path to becoming a productive American. PLEASE HELP. Please help me start over by giving me an opportunity to get rid of my bad debt that I cannot repay. Please stop companies like Sallie Mae from victimizing helpless students who have been lied to by their schools and were given loans they could never afford.

    • LCVD

      Can you tell me privately which route SM has taken to force you to pay for the private loans ex.  garnishment, bank levy, liens, skiptracing or calls at work, calls to someone else.

  • Laws65

    Being a single mom with three children and two disabilities I have found the unworkability or flexibility, depending on how you look at it, with Student Loans to be impossible buracracy at it’s finest. 
    1.  If you consolidate, your stuck-and the interest rates are high
    2.  If you can’t afford them, regardless of the documentation you show, it doesn’t matter
    3.  When you call Sallie Mae, they claim to be workable, but in reality are not
    4.  If you default, it is nothing short of a harassment nightmare that needs legal representation to assist in the matter
    5.  Having to prove a closed school, nothing short of another nightmare in which the individual does all the work, even when you’ve gone to your CT Congressmen twice.
    6.  The waiting on decisions is defective, the process completely ineffective and inefficent
    7.  Why are student loans, in this economy, not being looked at like mortgages-as some are as much as mortgage payments.
    8.  Where is the humanity in any workability with student loans?  There simply put, isn’t any.

  • Steve Macintyre

    In a nutshell, the Art Institute asks you to buy off the shelf books and study them and then be paid 50-60k to ‘grade’ you. I could have easily just have done this on my own (and I have) without getting into ludicrous debt. I used to work in the Entertainment Industry but have been unemployed for a few years and I needed to desperately update my skillset if I could hope to find a job in the highly competitive field of games and animation. Searching for various schools, I kept seeing advertisements for the Art Institute and talked with one of their recruiters and was told wonderful stories about how the school was accredited, how students went on to successful careers, etc. I told them I wanted to get a degree in Game Art and Design but was told I could but needed to take the Graphic Design course first. I didn’t think much of it at first, but I agreed. I was dismayed at the quality of the classes, they seem to believe you can learn programs like Maya and Flash with HTML text “lectures” that merely scratch the surface of the subjects and don’t even begin to prepare one for a job in the field. I’m stuck with over 100,000 dollars in debt which qualifies as theft as I recieved nothing substantiative in return. I actually had to sign up for other courses outside the school in order to successfully complete assignments! Courses that offered REAL *VIDEO* Instruction at a fraction of the cost ($35 dollars per month as opposed to $2000+ dollars! and by a company that trains people in the industry)

    It’s now 8 months since loans have run out and I couldn’t complete my degree and I’m still looking for work. I’ve continued to teach myself how to use programs like Maya, 3ds Max, and Flash, and ironically have made far more progress out of school than in it because I wasn’t wasting time reading pages and pages of inconsequential theory but I’ve run out of time and am very close to homelessness with an elder to take care of.

  • Caravan loans

    I am Diana. My sister wants to apply for the student loan. But i am not aware about the conditions and procedure for applying for the loan. After reviewing this post i get all the essential details which are required for applying for the loan. These details are very beneficial for me for getting the loan easily.

    • Gww1210

      My detailed reply to a few other posters keeps being denied, but if you can post a spam link to toyr “for profit” website, then maybe I can post a link to my non-profit research paper which outlines solutions to both private and federal loans. Click on my name for solutions.

  • Mike D

    The private loans created by for-profit colleges like “AI” Art Institutes, run by EDMC, and other for-profit colleges were given out ala sub prime housing crisis. These balance were nothing more than a supplement to jack up the prices so they could maximize FEDERAL loans, grants, and GI Bill Money. They lure in and target low income people with big dreams by creating impulsed based programs that in reality have no value in the real world due to their low pay. They fluffed the value of these degrees. Their recruiters lied. Their loan officers lied. They knew these loans go bad. They’ve created a system that the Department of Education doesn’t see it happen in the 2 year window. I firmly believe that the schools’ loan officers were rewarded to steer students to these absurd private loans. I know in my case, I was told that Private loans were “loans from Sallie Mae, our preferred FEDERAL lender.” abusing the relationships the schools had prior to the healthcare laws. They have Sallie Mae and their subsidiaries push students into deferments and forbearance and then Sallie Mae collects the defaulted government loans. The private loans are written off in their books far away from the eyes of regulators investors, and anyone who could change the system and most of all parents. These  students are now trapped in these balances. The lenders have NO incentive to work with students. The students can’t declare bankruptcy. The players keep lobbying away more and more rights so they win. Its the perfect scam. By the time the student is aware of what is happening, they’re locked in balances they can never afford and their legal right to sue the schools is either expired or taken away with arbitration agreements, hurried through in high pressure “interviews”.

    These for-profit colleges must be stopped and all students should be refunded. This is the new subprime crisis. Why else would Goldman Sachs own 41% of EDMC?

  • Danieldiazmarta

    Unbelievable that private companies can offer loans without background checks. Loans should be capped at 3% for engineering majors 5% for business and 10% for others. I think that would work.

    Anyway. I am going to have to go to Mexico where there are tons of engineering schools that dont charge what they do here.

  • Jnsmith553

     Summer 2011, time to start looking for a loan for school. I wanted my daughter to understand that it was her loan, not mine so she would be vested in her education. Unfortunately, she picked a very expensive private school, but for Criminal Justice, it is one of the best in the country and she it should get her a job.
    First the FAFSA, since I had lost my job and received severance it showed an abnormally high income for 2010 so there wasn’t much federal assistance.  When looking at private loans I had some criteria as a coborrower; need to get off the loan, decent interest rate, no prepayment penalty, partial payment while in school.
    Surprisingly Sallie Mae had an uncapped interest rate, no option to be removed, and no extra payment options; pay it all or just your payments.  I would think for a Federal Loan it would be more student friendly.  Looked at the CHELSEA loan the interest rate was nice, but the coborrower stayed on the note forever, not an option.  We ended up going with CUstudentLoan.  The interest rate was slightly higher, we pay $25 per month while in school, I can get off the note 24 months after graduation, and there is an 18% cap on interest.  Which is extremely high, but the lowest I found, many were 25%.  These interest rates are extremely rediculous and do not encourage higher education.  My daughter will graduate in 2015 with about $80,000 in debt.  Worse case scenario for me, two years of payments, it is going to be more than my mortgage.
    If there is anything your organization can do to help the situation, I know parents and student would be very grateful.  My daughter has 3 more years and I have two more children.  Thanks so much

    Borrower Beware

    • Danieldiazmarta

      Um. Just dont let her do it. I wouldnt let her get a lone for engineering, let alone criminal justice

    • LCVD

      I think you’re playing with fire in this tough times.  She better be able to get a job that can pay that loan after graduation because I can see her living with you to pay that debt for a long time.  Plain and simple, I just don’t see it. 

  • Novaphoenix1

    Make private lenders offer the exact same protections built into federal loans. IBR, ICR, etc with FEDERAL loans getting priority with repayment.

    For example: someone takes out $70k in federal and $50k in private. Person falls on hard times. Person enters IBR or ICR. Federal loans receive whatever the student can afford. Private loans wait until situation improves and follows the 20 to 25 year timeline just as federal loans do. Same with public service forgiveness programs after 10 years.

    As it stands now, private lenders offer all of the PENALITES of default, but none of the PROTECTIONS. This is unfair.

    They can follow the same guidelines as federal OR give up their status as non-discharge able in bankruptcy. They should not have it both ways.

  • debttired

    I am the first in my family to go to college. Without family support, I
    self-financed three college degrees (BA, MA and PhD) at state colleges between
    1988 and 2005 using Pell Grants, multiple jobs, scholarships and $90,000 in
    subsidized and unsubsidized student loans. My loans have been bought and sold
    so many times it is impossible to keep track of changes in rates, balances and terms
    of service since I have never had to resign any promissory notes. Eventually, I
    was able to consolidate the loans with Sallie Mae at a 7% interest rate. My
    loan payments have ranged from $400-600/mo. depending on the loan provider and
    lowest possible payment option available. My first job out of college paid
    $28,000, not enough to make even the most minimum payment option and still pay
    rent and have food on the table. I took two years of economic hardship
    forbearance after my deferment ran out. The interest accumulated during that
    period brought my loan principle balance to over $100K.  I am currently a
    public school teacher with an income of $50,000, barely enough income to pay
    the interest-only payments. I have never missed a payment in over ten years (I
    made some payments between degrees and while in school) and my loan balance
    stands at $105,000. To date, I have paid over $40,000 in loan payments and
    because my income restricts me to interest-only payments, and the 7% daily
    capitalized interest rate, I now owe $15,000 more than I borrowed. 


    I recently re-consolidated my loans in the DET Direct Loan IBR program.
    This program is no better than Sallie Mae, with the exception of the
    possibility for loan forgiveness after ten years of public service. The
    establishment of the PSLF program was not retroactive, so my five years of
    public service prior to 2007 do not count toward forgiveness. The PSLF program
    is only tied to IBR and ICR programs, which forces anyone who wants to qualify
    for the PSLF program into an interest-only repayment plan. Under IBR, my
    payments are lower and my interest rate is a bit lower (6%), so I can survive, but
    my principle balance continues to grow. Enrolling in the program forces the
    borrower to make a choice – pay less now, have your principle grow, and gamble
    that you will be eligible for forgiveness, which has already proven to be
    difficult to achieve because of the fine print of the bureaucratic process and the
    burden of proof is placed on the borrower. You need to provide all of the
    required documentation of ten years of qualified employment yourself – there is
    no federal tracking system. So, if you lose one paystub, from a one-year job
    you had eight years ago, tough luck, you don’t qualify. Of course, the biggest
    gamble is that the PSLF program will still be around in ten years. In the
    current political climate and push toward austerity, this seems unlikely. So, I
    could pay only interest on my loan and watch the balance swell for another ten
    years only to find forgiveness is no longer an option. Enrolling in IBR with
    the hope for the potential for forgiveness is a big risk, but for someone on a
    limited income it is the only hope.


    My student loan situation has nothing to do with a lack of financial
    responsibility. I have never missed a student loan payment and I have paid off
    $20,000 in credit card debt and a $10,000 car loan since graduation. I have no
    mortgage or any other outstanding debt, just my student loans. I have a credit
    score of 820. However, because of the usurious interest rates, capitalization
    of interest and the sole option of interest-only payments, I will never be able
    to pay off my student loan. It’s just not possible, unless I win the lottery.  

    • LCVD

      Look into the loan forgiveness program since you are a public school teacher.   You have to have worked a certain amount of years.   Don’t hesitate.  I also read about the private loans with SM about forgiveness, but I’m not sure about all the perks with the Sallie Mae because they are professional scammers unfortunately exploiting a hole in the system.  

  • socialworkmary

    I admit I did not understand capitalized interest until recently.  I consolidated my loans in 1997 when the interest rate was 8%.  My student loan office at Tulane University led me to believe that I “had” to consolidate and Sallie Mae was the only option offered to me.  In completed my BA and MSW degrees I accrued $45k in student loan debt.  Not bragging, and sorry for others in different situations, but I have payed on my loan without fail for 14 years.  I have repaid them over $61k.  I think I should be done now, but according to Sallie Mae I still owe $25k.  A Sallie Mae employee directed me to write the “Legal Dept.” and ask to have my loan written off, and to appeal if they denied.  They denied, stating that federal government regulation prevents them from writing off the balance of the loan.”  Why; they are a private company now.I appealed and will continue to do so.  When I talked to the Sallie Mae employee and said that I was confused about why, on most months, more of my payment goes to interest than principal, and asked why that wasn’t explained more clearly when I signed on with Sallie Mae.  She chuckled and stated that “we certainly don’t go out of our way to put that in big bright red letters across the front page.”  She was very sympathetic and basically agreed that they are predatory lenders.  I would prefer to save my $354.15 per month for my kids’ education.  Also, they came up with that repayment amount; how did they arrive at that number?  They set my repayment date at the 20th of the month, and then state if I don’t pay “early” most of my money goes to interest.  Isn’t that illegal?

  • Anonymous

    I graduated with student loans and don’t feel bad for anyone’s sob stories or do I buy into and of the demands people have posted. If you couldn’t afford college and had to take out more loans than you could reasonably pay back, that was your choice. Going to college is a personal choice and if one cannot afford it, they should work and save until they can. In fact too many people go to college as it is and saturate the workforce with people overqualified for the jobs for which they are applying. Let’s stop all government loan programs and let college be for jobs that actually require a degree, therefore inserting more high school graduates right into the work force. Personal responsibility has become a rare commodity and we only have the most irresponsible entity by volume (several $trillion in debt), the federal government, to blame for encouraging its citizens to live irresponsibly. I hope those of you whom are having a hard time paying back your loans get great jobs and can eventually pay them off, but we need to stop the cycle, not keep encouraging it by more regulations and aide.

    • Tara

      Another person with the “I did it, so there is no problem”. Think beyond yourself… just once.

      Do you have cancer? Do you want a cure for cancer to be discovered? Think about it.

    • Danieldiazmarta

      Well we are struggling because as we say it is a personal choice. Students in Mexico, China, Brazil, India from all walks of life are getting a low cost education and becoming engineers. =)

  • Dgoeck

    Im not really sure what to do at this point. I am a victim of a for profit school that definately seemed in cohorts with saliemae. My original loan was 80k but has grown to 135k and all I can pay is interest only which is already $700 a month. It’s rediculius how sad this market has become; no one offers consolidation anymore or those that do will pin you at a rediculius interest rate; I am definately in this for life which is terrible. I have no idea what to do at this point and it looks like I will be stuck living in a low rate apartment for the rest of my life and drive a 15 year old car.

    I’m at least glad I found a really good job in the industry I was hoping for but these loans are sure a real burden; just thinking about them hurts my overall outcome each and every day.

  • Student67

    This is Great!!!!

  • Guest

    Thanks Great

  • GordonWayneWatts

    That’s great.!

  • Anonymous

    Students who have private loans are being prayed on by lenders in subtle, “legal” ways. I am a graduate (doctoral) student with a 2005 loan from Bank of America which was passed to AES. AES passed my loan to their subsidiary National Collegiate Trust (NCT)despite my advise to them that I am full time , They cited that my advise was over 60days late and the loan was in repayment and refused to negotiate . Then, when I called/wrote/ emailed NCT to negotiate they sent my loan to another subsidiary; their collection agency MRS. These companies are working together, and when students are full time in school , they bombard them with calls and deadlines, and capitalize by taking punitive measures such as outlined above, from which they no doubt profit. Students want to repay their loans when they complete  and find employment. If you would like to  create reform , consider those in this type of situation. I believe that a lot of students have had loans placed at collection agency while they are full time in school. This should be amended to allow students wiggle room to complete their studies stress free. If students graduate, find employment and refuses to pay, only then collections should be appropriate.

  • KDF11

    Students who have private loans are being prayed on by lenders in subtle, “legal” ways. I am a graduate (doctoral) student with a 2005 loan from Bank of America
    which was passed to AES. AES passed my loan to their subsidiary National
    Collegiate Trust (NCT) in 2011 despite my advise to them that I am full time , They
    cited that my advise was over 60days late and the loan was in repayment
    and refused to negotiate . Then, when I called NCT to negotiate
    they sent my loan to another subsidiary, collection agent MRS. These
    companies are working together  and when students are full- time in
    school , they bombard them with calls, and deadlines and capitalize by
    taking punitive measures such as outlined above, from which they no
    doubt profit. Students want to pay their loans when they are complete in
    their studies and find employment. If you would like to  create reform ,
    consider those in this type of situation. I believe that a lot of
    students have had loans placed at collection agencies while they are full
    time in school. This should be amended. If students graduate and refuse to repay their loan, only then should collection agencies be appropriate.Protect students while they are full-time in school.

  • Anonymous

    Students who have private loans are being prayed on by lenders in
    subtle, “legal” ways. I am a graduate (doctoral) student with a 2005
    loan from Bank of America
    which was passed to AES. AES passed my loan to their subsidiary National
    Collegiate Trust (NCT) in 2011 despite my advise to them that I am full
    time . They
    cited that my advise was over 60days late and the loan was in repayment
    and refused to negotiate . Then, when I called NCT to negotiate
    they sent my loan to another subsidiary, collection agent MRS. These
    companies are working together  and when students are full- time in
    school , they bombard them with calls, and deadlines and capitalize by
    taking punitive measures such as outlined above, from which they no
    doubt profit. Students want to pay their loans when they are complete in
    their studies and find employment. If you would like to  create reform ,
    consider those in this type of situation. I believe that a lot of
    students have had loans placed at collection agencies while they are
    time in school. This should be amended. If students graduate and refuse
    to repay their loan, only then should collection agencies be
    appropriate.Protect students while they are full-time in school.

    • GordonWayneWatts

      hey, mods, how come this guy is getting three repeat posts when my one, single, good post (shorter than another one that posted) kept being denied? Go back & look for it and email me why it was denied: I follwed your terms of service meticulously and it was not-off topic or slanderous.

  • Alanbuechel

    Don’t do anything with Sallie Mae absolute ripoff

  • USSMonteCarlo

    Gordon, that is NOT great: Click on MY name, and sign YOUR petition, which was an improvement on your brief comment. Click MY name to sign the petition to the Whitehouse. Click & Sign.

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