Today I decided to check on the possibility of changing up my student loan payments. The jobs I am looking at seem to be paying significantly less then what I am used to. In order to be able to accept it, I decided to look into “Income Based Repayment” payments for my loan.
The idea of IBR is that a person who is not making enough pay to easily cover the standard payment, can make payments based on 15% of their discretionary income. You qualify for this if the IBR payment based on your last year’s tax return would be less then a normal straight payment. This means if you are stuck working a low income wage job after school (say 20k a year) your payments can be only $70 a month, even if they would have been $600 normally. It is a way to help offset the problem of students not being able to find work, or a recession or any other various issues. The IBR is staggered over 25 years and can result in the remaining being forgiven at the end (but you are subject to the taxes of that forgiveness).
I knew about this, and with the fact I am probably going to a take a 30%+ pay cut I decided to look into it. I went to Sallie Mae’s website and looked around. They have many options for payments, but none of them IBR (all of the options really didn’t change how much you had to pay). After about an hour of looking for it, I ended up calling Sallie Mae. Fast forward another half an hour of menus, holding, etc I finally got through to the customer service rep.
I won’t use the CSR rep’s name, he was very polite and I wouldn’t want to bring anything on him. However, he balked at getting me the IBR information. I asked why it wasn’t on the website and he said he couldn’t comment on that. He volunteered to send me the info and get it set up now after I had to wheedle with him a little bit more. I was thinking about it (currently I am deferred due to unemployment) and just as I was about to say yes he mentioned I should wait until the end of the year.
Since it is based on the prior calendar year (not on what you are making currently) he suggested to wait until end of the year, since my 2013 tax return AGI will be significantly less, my payments would be less then using 2012. I have to give him props for trying to save me money.
I guess the whole purpose of this post though is to express my frustration that Sallie Mae (and I assume the others do it as well) intentionally hide the information on their site and don’t make it easy to get to. The funny thing is, its not like Sallie Mae actually loaned me the money, it was the Federal Government, so I don’t understand why they get so pissy. I realize they loose a bit of revenue (they don’t actually lose any money as they didn’t loan me anything). However they are legally bound to offer this. Typical corporate greed.
This is just me complaining about it, and if anyone reads this and needs the info but can’t find it. Talk to a CSR and demand that information. It is a legal form of repayment and they deserve it.