I graduated from Kent State University with my B.A. in Secondary Education in December, 1992. I borrowed $17K. I then added my elementary education certification/endorsement to be more employable & then my Masters in Curriculum & Instruction in Education. Because I didn’t wish to acquire more debt, I paid cash for these degrees. However, when I married & the payments we’re so high, we were approached to consolidate as a couple at a lower interest rate & payment.
We bit. Worse thing I’ve ever done….In 2005, I divorced. Everything was split – except these consolidated loans. It’s against the law to split them. My ex refused to make payments, & unless I paid both our payments, I was considered a nonpayer as well. I contacted AES about deferments & forebearances (for 20 years now, I’ve worked with underprivileged youth in low income districts), & at first they habitually “lost” or “never received” the paperwork (via fax, mail, email….) & later they told me both my ex & I had to defer for the same reason or it would be denied…we weren’t speaking & he lived in another state. This went on for years (& penalties & fees & interest compounded).
After moving from Las Vegas to Irvine, CA, in 2008, I visited our local credit union to transfer a personal & a car loan from LV. When the teller returned, she informed me that they could not service these loans because I had a $250K+ unpaid student loan & my credit score was 590 (in LV it was 800). I was mortified, shocked, & frustrated. I immediately phoned AES, & they refused to divulge any info to me because my ex was listed primary & that would be invasion of his privacy. I was refused any info, but they reported it to the credit bureaus. What?!? this went on for almost a year. Then one day I was contacted by phone from a new organization, ASA. they told me if I paid $1500 monthly for 9 months, they’d fix my credit & I could enter IBR. I explained that I’m a single mom raising two daughters with limited to no support & that yearly through furlough days my teaching salary is less & less. They wouldn’t budge.
I explained the most I could possibly afford after cutting some things from our budget was $750, & that would really be pushing it. The still refused. The loans have recently gone into default, & ASA has attached my wages at $1000 monthly since this January – only MY wages, not the ex’s, yet he teaches & receives a higher salary…I’ve been denied homes to rent for my girls & me as this debt makes me a high risk (I have no other debt & have always paid my bills on time) & credit for a home. And In March, I received my pink slip (no job for next year).
I faxed a copy of it & a letter to AES & ASA explaining but never heard back. My last pay came June 30. I’m not trying to get out of paying what I owe – I’m just asking why I have to be burdened with another person’s debt AND my own. Why can’t the law allow these divorced consolidations to be separated or at least divided equally? Why should someone I legally divorced have the power over me to continue to ruin my credit? How can an organization ruin my credit yet refused me any info on the debt? How can I work in the public sector with underprivileged & be refused deferments or forgiveness because I took out my first loan too early??
How can these companies attach my wages yet not work with me on a fair payment? I worked hard for my education, borrowing a minimum amount & paying for most of it myself, & how am I rewarded? By picking up the tab for my ex….is that a just system??