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I think it’s underreported how incredibly nice the customer service agents at Sallie Mae can be about you not paying back your loan.
Like a lot of people, I took out loans for college, and after graduation, spent my early twenties not making enough money to pay down my debts.
Eventually I took a job at an internet-y, start-up-y, new media, digital-type company where I was nicely compensated, and I started making payments on my loans. I was laid off after 18 months.
When I called Sallie Mae to break the bad news, the customer service agent sighed and told me it was OK, pumpkin—I could put the loan into deferment.
I asked how long I could do that, and I don’t remember what she said, but she certainly didn’t seem to be sweating it, so I figured I wouldn’t either. Pay it back. Don’t pay it back. Pay a little on it. Defer it. Whatever.
I hung up the phone feeling like a fucking champion. I had faced a major financial fear, and it had been resolved thanks to a mutual agreement to not worry about it.
Two years passed, and the loan collected about $15,000 in interest. I got more full-time work and started paying my Sallie Mae bill again, but it looked kinda ugly, and I began to consider deferring it again. They’d let me do it so many times before. I once deferred paying back the loan for a year simply because it was the only way I could afford to deal with the amount of late-charges I’d racked up.