Sallie Mae Bank,
As students of Valdosta State University, we feel like we were taken advantage of.
While student debt crisis creeps up to $1.6 trillion, Sallie Mae executives were deciding whether they should lie along the beach or celebrate a record high of $5 billion in loans to 374,000 borrowers. So, the private loan company decided to do both, taking over 100 of its team members to Hawaii in August.
In 2014, Sallie Mae and Navient—a collection and services system—split, giving the two companies a new way to loan and collect money.
The average student graduates from college with about $30,000 in loans and payments that are expected immediately. While companies like Sallie Mae do provide payment plans, most monthly payments are about the same amount as a car insurance payment.
Although Sallie Mae team members taking a five-day vacation in Hawaii may not seem like a lot, about 69% of students take out student loans each year. This means over half of the college population takes out student loans, federal and private.
Celebrating a $5 million record high in loaning shows the utter disrespect a company like Sallie Mae has for post-graduate students. Post-graduates struggle to pay the loans due to unrealistic amounts due each month.
The disrespect comes in here: Standard plans to pay these loans are on a 10-year plan, but studies show it takes about 21 years to pay off a bachelor’s degree. 21 years. This leaves a student at the age of 43 years, or older, paying off a loan from a college they have not attended in over 20 years.
Instead of alleviating the current debt crisis for borrowers drowning in payments simply because they wanted to earn a higher education, Sallie Mae took students’ hard-earned money and went on a “retreat” to celebrate it.
Fortunately for students, there are steps they can take to prepare for that call from Sallie Mae.
Understanding interest rates, how much you are borrowing and whether it is a federal or private loan are key factors in choosing the right loan for you personally. A loan with a lower interest rate is the most ideal for anyone looking to take one out.
Loan forgiveness, a system where a borrower no longer has to pay off his or her loan, is available after 10, 20 or 25 years. Loan forgiveness granted after 10 years is non-taxed, but after 20-25 years it can be taxed. For people that do not qualify for loan forgiveness, refinancing with a private lender can decrease the interest rate of your loan.
This does not excuse the power lenders have over post-graduate students. Students working to pay off their loans while a company goes on a vacation to Hawaii is a very backwards mentality. Students who have trusted the company with their promise and money have been disrespected and taken advantage of.
This editorial reflects the general opinion of The Spectator staff.