Matthew Gates 12m 1,801 #education
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
This is a letter I wrote to the Department of Education after spending almost 3 years and several low-paying jobs to pay off my $40,000 student loan. After I got done paying it down, my account, for whatever reason earned some interest on nothing, with 9 cents being the result of what I now owed to the Student Loan company.
I called to see if I could get this small fee waived, as I just wanted to be out of debt, and did not see a point in having to pay 9 cents. I asked to speak to a manager, but even reaching a manager, I was only told: “You should just send in the 9 cents, it’s not that big of a deal. I’m sorry about that.”
Keep in mind, I was upset, but trying to remain calm as I wrote this.
Dear Nelnet aka Department of Education,
This is direct message to the Leadership and Board of Directors, as I found on your website: Michael S. Dunlap, Jeffrey R. Noordhoek, Todd M. Eicher, Terry J. Heimes, William J. Munn, Timothy A. Tewes, Stephen F. Butterfield, James P. Abel, Kathleen A. Farrell Ph.D., Thomas E. Henning, Thomas E. Henning, William R. Cintani, Kimberly Rath, and Michael Reardon.
I will keep this short and to the point because I know you are all busy important people. You have millions of students who have borrowed money from you and have paid you back. To those others who have not paid back what they owe yet, you are busy making sure that those students in default have been handed over to Collection Agencies. I understand your jobs are all too important. I also appreciate the fact that without you, your services, and the services of all student loan companies, I probably would have never gone to a University and graduated with reputable grades.
I went to a University that charged a fairly hefty fee, far more than what my degree was probably worth, but they are just in the business of making money, and I did have a wonderful experience. They charged me $40,000 by the time I graduated and all was said and done.
Once I graduated, CitiBank, Chase, and Nelnet were quick to inform me that I owed them a lot of money that almost seemed too overwhelming at the time. I almost thought about not paying it back, but then I realized that I was an adult with credit and responsibilities. You were my loaners and it would only be fair of me to pay you back, even at the unbelievable high interest rate and burden you decided to place upon me.
That is a lot of money to anyone who just graduates college and is either not working or is making just above minimum wage. Eventually, Chase sold my student loan to your company, Nelnet. I also did not care for Sallie Mae to handle my student loans and decided to put my full faith in Nelnet to consolidate my remaining student loans, so I would only have to pay one company through the duration of my student loan payments.
There is the fear of being a slave to the student loan debt I acquired for years to come. However, I completely understand that I borrowed it and that it must be paid back, and therefore, I did the right thing: I went out and managed to get two full time jobs and several side jobs so I could attempt to escape the financial debt and the high interest rates quickly. As with any Student Loan company, you are all in it to make as much money as you can. That is what keeps you in business. If I ran my own company, I too, probably would not take pity on the soul who could not pay me back.
With the combination of a college degree and programming skills, I managed to get a few great paying jobs and could afford to pay anywhere from a thousand to two thousand a month. I was happy to pay my student loan debt back. It had taken me from the start of February 2011 until the end of December 2013 to look at the “View Payoff Details” page and actually be able to make the last of my payment.
I have always paid my bill online either at the end of the month or the middle of the month, sometimes both, and it has always been right on time. I have also kept complete records of every student loan company I’ve dealt with and made payments towards each time. I have been very well organized and know what I have owed and how much until I was paid off – until I was really financially debt free from your company.
The final payment was made. I was so excited! I would be officially debt free in 2014! Hurray for me! I paid my student loans off all by myself! I really appreciate my business with you, Nelnet. Throughout my entire time with you, you have made the whole payment process fairly easy. Easy enough for me to understand it, master it, and eventually pay it off.
Little did I know, Nelnet’s “Payoff Details” does not always reflect the interest, no matter how little it is, and the Make Payment option only allowed me to pay my entire bill minus the 9 cents of interest that would eventually accrue.
I wanted to see what I could do about this 9 cents. Maybe since it was around Christmas and New Years, and I would be entering 2014 debt free, I could call your company up to see if they would give me a break and alleviate me of the burden of the 9 cents.
After all, what could I do with 9 cents? What could your company do with the 9 cents I supposedly owe you? 9 cents will not pay for the postage. 9 cents will not pay for the envelope. 9 cents could not even pay for this very paper I printed this very letter on. 9 cents is not going to pay for the oil or the gas that the United States Post Office is going to use to drive or fly this letter to you. 9 cents is not going to pay the employee that performed all the tasks to get this very letter and the 9 cents to you. 9 cent will not even pay for the credit card processing fees that you are going to incur when they charge you, if I were to pay via a credit card, which your website will not allow me to do.
It is 9 cents with a 6.8% interest rate. How much does that make you? By the end of the year, you will make $0.007344. Add this to your 9 cents and you will make .097344. This means that by the end of the year, you will still be at 9 cents, maybe at 10 cents if you want to round the number up. Now I am not complaining that I have to pay the 9 cents. I mean, okay, I am because I am writing this letter to you, but I think after paying your company approximately $26,510.46, I can afford to make it $26,510.55.
I also wonder how you want this 9 cents. Would you like 9 pennies? Would you like 1 nickel and 4 pennies? Would you like me to send you a dime? How about 2 nickels? If you are going to nickel and dime me – in this case, just nickel and penny me, than I will send you a nice shiny dime, and could only expect that you return the favor and return a fresh new penny to me? Could you make it a new 2014 shiny penny, if possible?
So after speaking with a very friendly female representative – unfortunately I did not get her name – I was told that there was no way out of this and I would still have to pay you the 9 cents. I even asked to speak to a manager or a supervisor but she said that would not be possible and I would be better off paying the 9 cents to your company.
Speaking of which, I looked up your customer Service Representative salaries and they make around $23,000 a year. Not too bad for someone who is there to answer phones, help calling customers, and provide customer service and support. That means she makes $1,769.23 a month, about $442 a week, $88 a day, or $11 an hour. After taxes, she makes less. Depending on where she lives, it is probably not enough to live on, but my point is, my 9 cents is probably not going towards her salary.
Now it is probably cheaper for me not to pay the 9 cents so I could start saving up my own money and finally take a much needed vacation. What if I didn’t pay you the 9 cents? I calculated it and I believe after 10 years, I may finally owe you about 17 to 20 cents. Maybe with inflation, I might owe you 25 cents. While I do want to keep our relationship business-like and professional, I feel that having made what I thought was a final payment, would have ended what our business and professional relationship.
There is, however, much humor in a company looking to collect their last 9 cents of interest, so I may find it best to keep you in my life for another 10 years if you really want to collect it. Maybe you will send me to a Collection Agency so they can collect your 9 cents? Perhaps the Leadership and Board of Directors might tire of waiting for their original 9 cents to be paid back and treat me to lunch where you could finally collect your debt, which may rise – with interest – to around 25 cents in 10 years.
I have paid you so much money that it would only be fair for this business relationship to remain professional. It would be awesome if you could take care of the airfare too, but I know that may be asking a lot of you. Without having any student debt though, I can finally afford to fly or drive to Nebraska, Colorado, or Georgia – what I think are your primary locations – and have lunch with everyone at the Department of Education – Nelnet Corporation. I cannot afford to buy everyone lunch though, so I’m hoping you could treat me.
And after all is said and done, I will gladly pay you the 9 cents I owe you with interest. If you are willing to alleviate me of this 9 cent debt, however, I will agree to forego the lunch with you. If not, I look forward to having lunch with you in 1 year, 5 years, 10 or years, any amount of years you want. I leave the choice up to you when you want to collect your 9 cents.
About a year later, the $0.09 debt was forgiven and the account was closed.