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Everyone may want to write ther Congressman/woman in support of this:


HIGHER EDUCATION WASHINGTON'S NEWSLINE, JUNE 20, 2003


REP. DELAURO INTRODUCES "COLLEGE LOAN ASSISTANCE ACT"
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) yesterday introduced an inclusive higher education bill
that would address several of the challenges students face when financing a
college education, including student loan debt. The bill, H.R. 2505, the
"College Loan Assistance Act," would allow students that have already locked in
low rates to take advantage of the new historically-low rates and refinance their
loans at the lower rate. Also, loan and origination fees charged to student
borrowers would be eliminated. The bill would also increase the maximum Pell
Grant to $7,000.
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Where was this referenced from?


Just out of curiosity, Is it possible to set up an online petition? To let the government know that we want changes made?


Lady I, thinking and thinking.
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Lady I--

I just went to the Rep. website and found the following:

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3) today introduced the “College Loan Assistance Act,” legislation that would address the many challenges students face in financing a college education, including addressing student loan debt and solutions to help make college more affordable.

“Higher education is critical to success in today's workplace, and we should do all we can to make it easier for kids to go to college,” said DeLauro. “Today more and more students and their families worry about how they will afford the rising costs of higher education. This legislation provides the necessary tools for students to manage their educational debt and help them pay it back as quickly as possible.”

The “College Loan Assistance Act” would make college more affordable for students by allowing students that have already locked in loan rates to take advantage of historic low-fixed interest rates and refinance their student loans at the lower rate. It would also eliminate loan and origination fees charged to student borrowers, adding thousands to the overall debt they have to pay back and it would restore the original purchasing power of the program by providing much needed increases to the maximum Pell Grant by increasing the authorized level of the maximum Pell Grant to $7,000.

The cost of higher education has increased dramatically over the past few years, making college less affordable for many families. As college tuition has climbed, so has the number of students who borrow to help pay for it. Ten years ago, about 46 percent of graduating seniors had taken out educational loans in their undergraduate careers. By 2000, roughly 70 percent of students took out loans, amassing an average of $27,600 per student in educational debts.

In addition, the rising costs of higher education have fallen disproportionately on the shoulders of lower-income families. However the tools these families have for affording college have also become less valuable -- the Pell Grant has declined from covering 84 percent of the tuition at a four-year public institution in 1975-76 to 39 percent today. The “College Loan Assistance Act” would restore the original purchasing power of the Pell Grant by increasing the authorized level of the maximum Pell Grant to $7,000. http://www.house.gov/delauro/press/2003/higher_ed_bill_6-18-03.htm



The Honorable DeLauro can be contacted at her website http://www.house.gov/delauro/ and via phone at (203) 562-3718 (District) or (202) 225-3661 (Washington).

We should all also contact *our* congress people to urge them to support the bill.

AND we should spread the word.


Can you tell I'm all a-titter. (Oh, lord, please let me out from under these 7.75 loans--and the interest rate is supposed to drop again....)

bleplatt
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Thanks for the information! I'd love to get out from under my 9% rate!

~Emery (furiously writing legislators as I speak....er, type)
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REP. DELAURO INTRODUCES "COLLEGE LOAN ASSISTANCE ACT"

Interestingly, Yale is in her district. (I knew her name sounded familiar...) I won't even speculate what the undergrad education costs at Yale now... though I know most of her constituents in New Haven can't afford it.
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The bill, H.R. 2505, the
"College Loan Assistance Act," would allow students that have already locked in . . .



I want to point out, notice that the bill is designated 2-505 !


W505a


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Bill # H.R.2505

To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to permit refinancing of student consolidation loans, increase Pell Grant maximum awards, and for other purposes.

http://capwiz.com/c-span/issues/bills/?billnum=H.R.2505&congress=108&size=full

And I just wrote to my congressman and senators two days ago, asking for just this type of legislation. If only I had known I could have specifically mentioned this bill. I hope this gets passed before the interest rates go back up! We'll see...

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I think it's a fantastic idea and I would like to see one of our local Congressmen, Rush Holt (D-Hopewell), get on board.

(That would ALSO pressure some of our local Republican delegation (Frelinghuysen, Ferguson) to get with the program, and let more of our tax dollars stay in New Jersey where it belongs!)
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w505

obviously great minds think alike :D

I'm going to post this on my university listserve and on my doctoral alumni group. I do wonder if it is possible to develop a ground swell of support. Think about how many people are locked in at those higher rates!

The other thing I noticed was that there are 7 co-sponsorers of the bill--they should also know of our interest, not just the Honorable Rep from Connecticutt.

I call my local rep's office and the child answering the phone was quite clueless, but interested because he's "going to have to start taking out loans soon too!"

I'm calling the Washington office on Monday. Gotta love those free long-distance minutes from Cricket!

bleplatt

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Bleplatt -


Thanks for posting the reference info. It wasn't that I didn't believe you, I just wanted more info.

I shall have to hunt down my local congressman (person?) and send out a missive. hmm... I wonder if there's a site that lists all of them and their email addy's?



Lady I, is off to google to have a looksee.
(currently at 8.25%)
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Seek and ye shall find.


http://www.house.gov/writerep/



This site allows you to select your state, and put in your zipcode, and it will tell you who your congressperson is and their snail address and website link. Contact information is on the website.


Now...all we need to do is get someone to write a form letter, so we can copy it and send it off. ;^)



Lady I, too busy to concentrate on a letter right now.
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ask and ye shall receive.

(I've never written one of these before, so if there is a better phrasing, etc. please let me know, I'll re-work and repost.)

Your name
Address

Date

Their name
Address

Dear insert name here with correct title, eg Congressman/woman:

I am writing to you to strongly urge your support of HR-2505, the College Loan Assistance Act.

This important bill would allow students who have previously consolidated their loans (usually at 7% or higher) to refinance their loans to take advantage of the new historically low interest rates currently available to borrowers. In addition, it will eliminate loan and origination fees, as well as raise the maximum Pell Grant to $7000.

Our country—through our President, the Congress, and general public opinion—has repeatedly stressed the importance of higher education. HR-2505 will make higher education more affordable for thousands of students. In addition, the ability to pay back student loans at significantly lower levels allows millions of dollars back into our economy. This can only benefit our great nation.

Once again, I wish to offer my strong support for HR-2505 and request that you do the same.

Sincerely,

Your name. :D
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She's giving you 6.8%----not the 2.82% or 3.43% rates that the current consolidators are getting. If you look at the statute on that C-SPAN link, all it does is lower the "cap" to 6.8%.

If you are above that number, great! But it isn't everything it appears at first. Why can't they offer the 3.5% to all consolidators??
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Bleplatt - thanks for the letter.


W505 - well if I can reconsolidate at 6.8% it's a heck of alot better than 8% or the 10% I had a couple years ago.



Of course lower would be better...but...hey...


Lady I, will take what she can get.
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hmm, maybe we should revise the letter to argue for a re-consolidation at the current rate being offered....

bleplatt
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W505a

Where did you see that on C-Span site...all I've found is a cap on the upper limits of interest at 6.8%.I don't find one on the lower or preventing one from obtaining at current rates.I may call the Reps office and find out ---- phone 202.225.3661


dale
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Where did you see that on C-Span site...all I've found is a cap on the upper limits of interest at 6.8%.I don't find one on the lower or preventing one from obtaining at current rates.


When I read the statute, the only change I saw that would affect consolidation rates, is to cap the upper limit at 6.8%. (What I did is take all the parts of the bill that say, "eliminate subparagraph whatever, add this text, etc.," and put those into the old law, and read it.

As you know, consolidations since February 1, 1999 are given a "weighted average" interest rate, the average of all the student loans going in to the consolidation.

DeLauro's bill does NOT change THAT part of the law, from what I can tell.

It only changes the status of "previously consolidated" borrowers who are stuck, and offers a cap of 6.8%.

6.8% is good, if you are stuck at 8.25%. But for people at 6% or 5%, who want 3.5% (or 8.25% and want 3.5%), it doesn't get you there!

6.8% is a previously agreed to rate, from that Senate Bill 1762 last year, effective for new consolidations in 2006. At the time, 10-year rates on Treasury Notes were in the 5's. Now they're in the 3's. Therefore, DeLauro should have ALSO argued for something like 4.8% as a consolidation "cap".
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As far as I can tell the consolidation loan interest rates are not discussed in the Higher Education Act until Section 427A(k)(4). It would look to me like the 6.8% pertains to new loans??? Maybe I'm reading it wrong....

thewildcide
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Here is what I think is going on:

the "weighted average rule" doesn't change under the bill.

the RIGHT to consolidate is returned - so if you consolidated, you are able to again.

the "cap" that your interest is, well, capped at, becomes 6.8%


I may be totally wrong, but this bill looks like a winner ONLY for those people who have loans locked in above the 6.8%.

It is a potential winner, also, for people with variable rates, who want to lock in a fixed rate right now, but for some reason, can't (due to this not-being-able-to-reconsolidate rule).
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According to the press release on Rep. DeLauro's website it says,

"The “College Loan Assistance Act” would make college more affordable for students by allowing students that have already locked in loan rates to take advantage of historic low-fixed interest rates and refinance their student loans at the lower rate.


Hopefully, she doesn't think 6.8% is an historically low interest rate. If they continue to use the "weighted average rule" I don't see how it will help too many people. In my case, if my interest rate were to drop to 6.8% it would only save me about $24 a month in interest. That's not much help...
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I know what the press release says, but if you read H.R. 2505, there doesn't seem to be any word (or deletions) in it that would allow everyone these "historically low rates".

Either I am wrong and have not read the bill right, or whoever is handing Rosa her talking points doesn't understand what's in the bill.

It could be that it is only in reference to people with variable rates who for some reason have not been able to lock in.



This all would be moot, by the way, if ALL student loans were through Direct Loans. Then Congress could come in and statutorily set a "historically low rate" any time it pleased (and the President agreed . . . )
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This all would be moot, by the way, if ALL student loans were through Direct Loans. Then Congress could come in and statutorily set a "historically low rate" any time it pleased (and the President agreed . . . )

With the kind of regime we have in power at the moment, I think this would lead to historically high rates, not low ones, during a time of national budgetary crisis. (Meanwhile, of course, tax cuts for the wealthy continue to be the promised panacea...)
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Hmm...I feel like I've just jumped into one of those political talk shows on PBS or CNN.

Let me know when you guys figure it all out, cause it's all pretty much greek to me. (or french, or spanish or arabic or.... Klingon for that matter. )


Keep up the good work guys. (and gals?) ;)


Lady I, waiting to hear the outcome.
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With the kind of regime we have in power at the moment, I think this would lead to historically high rates, not low ones, during a time of national budgetary crisis. (Meanwhile, of course, tax cuts for the wealthy continue to be the promised panacea...)


Except of course since the student loan is a contract, you are only obligated to the rate of interest you agreed to. (Congress cannot come in and jack it up higher than what was agreed.)

They could, however, take away a student loan interest deduction in the future, which would feel just like the rate got jacked up.

The Republicans, you are right, are no friend to student borrowers.

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Except of course since the student loan is a contract, you are only obligated to the rate of interest you agreed to.

For existing loans, yes. But students and parents borrow more every year...

-A
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I called the Congresswoman's office and spoke with the person who helped write the bill.I was told the 6.8% cap is a ceiling cap only.There is no lower cap-- other than prevailing rates.Someone else may want to verify this .
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Right Dale, but the thing is, if someone already has a fixed-rate student loan at 8.25%, they are not going to be given the formula T-bill plus 230 b.p. (2.3%). They are going to be told, "look it, now your 8.25% is being reduced to 6.8%.) Something the current law would allow in 2006 in any event, as long as someone is not locked in a reconsolidation . . .
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Something the current law would allow in 2006 in any event, as long as someone is not locked in a reconsolidation


So since I've already consolidated, I wouldn't be eligible for 6.8%

Lady I, confused as usual.
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Lady I, I think that since you are with Direct already, they would let you consolidate. I know I have done so three times already at Direct (the original consolidation, and TWO "refis") and it was never a problem.
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Lady I, I think that since you are with Direct already, they would let you consolidate. I know I have done so three times already at Direct (the original consolidation, and TWO "refis") and it was never a problem.

were the re-fi's with or without additional loans to add in?

Lady I, not about to be taking out anymore loans.
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These were just the same money rolled over. No new loans (you won't get me ever taking out student loans again, either . . . )
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You can do that?

I thought once it was all once lump sum, you couldn't do anything else with it.


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I thought once it was all once lump sum, you couldn't do anything else with it.


me too!!!


jak
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me three!!!

so, are you saying that if we are able to get our student loans with direct, we can 're-finance" (and what exactly does that mean?) our already consolidated student loans?

bleplatt (suddenly thinking very hard about a little-bitty student loan with someone other than Satanic Mae.)
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so, are you saying that if we are able to get our student loans with direct, we can 're-finance" (and what exactly does that mean?) our already consolidated student loans?

Greetings, bleplatt, it is possible to reconsolidate an already-consolidated loan, and perhaps so even with Sallie Mae and not just Direct. But before you get excited about it, it is important to understand WHY you might (or might not) want to do this.

First off, reconsolidating will NOT lower your interest to the prevailing variable rate. What it WILL do is allow you to take the weighted average interest rate of all of your loans you plan to include in the reconsolidation, rounded UP to the next 0.25 (1/8) percent. So unless you have NEW student loan money at a low variable rate which qualifies for consolidation into your current crop of already-consolidated loans, you would not lower your interest rate just by undergoing the exercise of reconsolidation for its own sake.

That said, if in the second case there were a special interest rate incentive upon consolidation or reconsolidation, THEN it might pay to do so, new loans or no. This was last the case in 2001 when there was a short-lived rate break of 0.8% on consolidated Direct Loans which also applied to RECONSOLIDATIONS. In other words, this was a rate break that could have been taken advantage of even if your loans had previously been consolidated. And it might have served as a way of getting your loan out of the clutches of Sallie Mae because it would have reflected loan terms that Sallie Mae was not offering. Who knows in the future whether such incentives would become available again? (My best guess is to watch this board because I think it serves as an early alert system!)

If you want out of Sallie Mae and your loans have already been consolidated, give thought to whether you would qualify for the Income Contingent repayment plan offered exclusively by Direct. Other posters (LadyIanna?) could comment on what it took to wrest a loan away from Sallie Mae based on applying for this repayment plan, and whether there were other contingencies that had to be met apart from one's rightful demand for a repayment plan not offered by the present lender. I don't know whether such a move out of Sallie Mae and into Direct necessarily requires a full-scale reconsolidation - or whether the loan is simply handed over from Sallie Mae to Direct without any change in rate. The other thing I don't know (that may be worth finding out) is whether your loan once moved over from Sallie Mae (or any under lender) to Direct Loans under the pretext of requesting Income Contingent repayment terms could later have those repayment terms reset upon request to another of the repayment plans available.

In general, the way the system is presently set up, once you consolidate you are stuck at that rate and can basically never refinance student loan money within the student loan mechanisms EXCEPT for the hen's-teeth-rare circumstance of some form of incentive or other being made available to all borrowers despite the consolidation status of their loans. Those of us who consolidated 3 or more years ago hoping to beat the then-rise in interest rates are now at the nosebleed level and we can't come down. :-(

xraymd
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One additional advantage to reconsolidation: if the grace period on the existing consolidation loan has run out and you reconsoliate with an existing loan having a grace period the ENTIRE reconsolidated loan has a new grace period!
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One additional advantage to reconsolidation: if the grace period on the existing consolidation loan has run out and you reconsoliate with an existing loan having a grace period the ENTIRE reconsolidated loan has a new grace period!

Greetings, georgepurcell, thanks for mentioning this - I forgot about this advantage when I posted. It has helped me with my Economic Hardship deferments which I've continued to qualify for by means testing but would have run out of time for (only renewable for a 36-month period maximum on the specific loan) had I not reconsolidated. I was reconsolidating anyway because of an interest rate incentive but it sure didn't hurt that reconsolidating completely reset the ticking time clock on available deferment time (assuming eligibility was still met).

xraymd
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Xraymd -

What W505 said in his post was: These were just the same money rolled over. No new loans (you won't get me ever taking out student loans again, either . . . )


Which led us to believe that re-consolidating and already consolidated loan was possible without adding another loan to it.

What you are saying is that you need to add another loan to a larger loan that's been consolidated. Or..that there has to be some type of DL incentive that would allow you to switch to them.

On the other hand..you also mentioned that DL is the only one that has ICR payments. This isn't exactly true. Sallie Mae has Income sensitive repayment, but no where in their documentation does it say that the balance is written off in 25 years, or from what I read, does it say that the payment amount is based on your AGI. (Which as I found out is not true for the 1st 2 years at DL anyway. They use your current paychecks.)

So...as far as getting the loan away from Sallie Mae based on the ICR plan it would be very difficult. I tried to go that route and ended up having Sallie *cre* me really big time and balk at everything until they were literally FORCED to release the loan. (December 31, 2002) The managed to squeeze ever single ounce of interest out of me that they could. Therefor raising my principal up another 1k or so.

Others might have better success, but... All I can say is...good luck.


Lady I, currently paying but not paying. :P
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LI, have you thought about filing a small claims suit against Sallie based on their actions for the interest? Would be a way to stick a little knife in them for being jerks.
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Nah...the last time I went to small claims court, it netted me nuttin!

Too much trouble. One small gnat is ignored, unless there's a couple dozen more to follow it up.

Lady I, the very small mouse going after the great big elephant.
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I have had three consolidated loans with Direct.

Each has my social security number and a final digit.

The first was:

XXX XX XXXX -1

Then

XXX XX XXXX -2

and now:

XXX XX XXXX -3

The first loan was a combination of many. But the last two were the same money, rolled over. There were no new loans.

If I was not able to do a rollover the last time, I am sure they would have said "no". Ideally, if they even want to give me back the old loan (the #2), they would have to lower my interest rate to 3.5%.

I believe that, once you are in Direct, Direct has its own rules. This is why, for the past eight years, I have always liked Direct. So long as you don't get a slacker phone-drone, you are A-O-K.
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Greetings, W505a, this is EXACTLY what I have with Direct Loans and probably exactly for the same reasons you do. Loans XXX XX XXXX -1 and XXX XX XXXX -2 are paid in full. Loan XXX XX XXXX -3 is still out there, and how! These are also the exact same loans, no new money added, but reconsolidated twice.

The first one, -1, was a consolidation from Norwest of 8 student loans taken out over the 4 years of medical school, 1994-1998. One set of loans a year: one subsidized and one unsubsidized. The whole kit and caboodle was sold to Wells Fargo by Norwest, so Wells Fargo is where I went from an unconsolidated collection of variable rate loans (at something like 8.19%) to a duo of subsidized and unsubsidized loans with Direct Loans in 1999 when my 6 month grace period ran out.

in 1998-99, there was a special offer to allow unconsolidated loans to be consolidated (or consolidated loans to be RECONSOLIDATED with no new loans added in) and kept at (or changed back to) a variable rate, dropping down to 7.46%. This represented consolidation loan -1. No new money added in.

With interest rates looming large and facing the prospect of watching my variable rate INCREASE (yes, they did that sometimes prior to the past 3 years), I took advantage of a further reconsolidation in 2000 to lock in at a fixed rate of 7%. This represented consolidation loan -2. Same money, no new loans.

Then in 2001 I reconsolidated a third time to take advantage of a one-time interest incentive of 0.8%. So now my loan -3, same money, is at a fixed 6.2% when the incentive is considered. Once I enter repayment, I will be eligible for a further reduction of 0.25% for electronic debiting so my ultimate rate will be 5.95% unless the law changes.

Some points: though this was all the same money (i.e. no new student loans taken out since 1998), all of the unpaid interest was capitalized onto each principal balance with each consolidation. So a big hint for anyone considering reconsolidation would be to PAY OFF THE ACCRUED INTEREST if you can, to prevent your principal balance from going up. But as an offset to the huge cost of capitalization, I have had the clock reset on my eligibility for Economic Hardship deferment with each consolidation. So instead of 36 months which would have run out by 2001, I pushed forward the date of continued eligibility. My last consolidation in 2001 technically gives me 2001-2002, 2002-2003 and now 2003-2004 if the means test can be met. That will cover the interest on the subsidized portion for a further year if I can get it. We'll see.

Like you, if I could turn back time and if my crystal ball weren't foggy in 1999, I would have happily stuck with a VARIABLE RATE CONSOLIDATED loan. But that's a unicorn sighted once in 1998-99 and not likely to show up round these parts again in any way that I could benefit.

xraymd
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First off, reconsolidating will NOT lower your interest to the prevailing variable rate. What it WILL do is allow you to take the weighted average interest rate of all of your loans you plan to include in the reconsolidation, rounded UP to the next 0.25 (1/8) percent.

OCD: next 0.125 (1/8) percent

sorry

xraymd
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Dear xraymd, Lady I, w505, et al--

Thanks for the information. At this point, after the 5 month interest only payment fiasco, I'm just looking to get away from SM and I'm aware :( of most of the details of the weighted average, etc etc. Like you, xraymd, I consolidated in 1999 to avoid the interest hikes and to qualify for my home loan. Now, well. we don't need to say more.

Can you still qualify for Income-contingent repayment plan if you've been paying on the 30 year plan? Xraymd, how did you go about getting yours into deferment (is that right) for so long?

I'd pretty much decided to go back to school-part time to pay it back, but if I can put them in a holding pattern and still pay money off, that would be much better.

bleplatt
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Xraymd, how did you go about getting yours into deferment (is that right) for so long?

I'd pretty much decided to go back to school-part time to pay it back, but if I can put them in a holding pattern and still pay money off, that would be much better.


Greetings, bleplatt, the ongoing deferments were a consequence of reconsolidating. With each reconsolidation, the clock gets reset and so long as the borrower remains eligible for the deferment by income criteria, it should be granted for a fresh 36 month period beginning around the time of the disbursement of the reconsolidation. You must reapply for the deferment, though, and must continue to reapply every year. A deferment stops the interest on only the subsidized portion of the loan; the unsubsidized interest will continue to accrue.

Note: This deferment extension with reconsolidation was true of Direct Loans. I can't say what Sallie Mae will do!

Further note: With each reconsolidation your interest rate could potentially show upward creep because of the round-up rule of 0.125% on the weighted average of the interest rates of all of your loans.

Direct Loans has an Ombudsman who is especially empowered to investigate loan and payment issues. Does Sallie Mae have someone in this position you could open a case with concerning your repayment fiasco?

xraymd
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Direct Loans has an Ombudsman who is especially empowered to investigate loan and payment issues. Does Sallie Mae have someone in this position you could open a case with concerning your repayment fiasco?


I thought the omnbudsman was independant of the student loan lenders.


LI
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