Continual troubles with Sallie Mae

I can’t tell if this is on my part or Sallie Mae, or if this is an omen I should be paying very close attention to. 

When I couldn’t get on the website the other day, it was the international partnership of Sallie Mae. So after emailing Durham, asking if I missed the deadline, they suggested an alternative link, which was to the direct, local version of the website. I had to make an account. As soon as I did so, I began getting email after email from Sallie Mae. I got seven emails from them just today. 

However, because I wasn’t able to enter in that I have two jobs, I they declined my application–at least independently. So I had to ask for a co-signer which makes me extremely uncomfortable. After getting through the application for the co-signer, for the most part, it began telling us that she needed to make her own account to finish up her application for a student loan. We went back to double check that she was on track for a co-signing application, which we were. Then it wouldn’t let us continue forward and times out. 

I went to go log back in and it didn’t recognize my username, email (which I know damn well they know how I used after my seven emails from them), my social or anything I used to try and get into my account. In he mean time, I’m now getting text messages  from Sallie Mae to finish my application.

It creeps me out how persistent they have been trying to get me to finish my application. Six of the seven emails I got from them were telling me that I needed to finish my application or to get the co-signer application finished. It makes me wonder why it is that they are so desperate that I get this finished, and wonder what then collecting payments is going to be like. I’m already terrified about taking out a private loan, and this is not making me feel any more comfortable. 

There has to be another way. 

Might Have Missed the Deadline

As it turns out, I didn’t apply correctly for my student loans. Because I’m too independent and under-educated for a PLUS loan, I had to apply for Sallie Mae, which I indicated in the weird spreadsheet Durham’s Financial Aid sent me to fill out. They also sent me a flow chart of directions, telling me to follow it to the letter. I did so. Apparently, what was left out was that I was going to have to apply for Sallie Mae loans separately, on a separate Cost of Attendance spreadsheet as well as on a different website all together.

I set to work on that. As it turns out, because it’s an international school that I’m going to, I have to apply on a special version of their website, or something of that matter. I can only get to it through Durham’s website. I followed the link, clicked the dreaded “Get Started” button, and it took me to a page which had a message pop up reading:

“Invalid Offer

The offer you’re responding to is either invalid or no longer available.

For more information about our current products, go to SallieMae.com. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
I went to the Sallie Mae website, which gave me no information whatsoever regarding what I was after.
I think that I might have actually missed the deadline. I think I missed the cut-off point for the loans. I’ve emailed the contact person for Durhams’ Financial Aid office, and since it’s a little late in the morning, I’ve got to wait until potentially tomorrow for him to get back to me.
Always a waiting game.

FAFSA Application Completed

Ugh. I just finally filled out my application for Financial Aid. I’m looking at having to pay back about $200 a month just in federal loans, and another $550 a month for Sallie Mae. I feel sick.

Kids, save up your money and pay for tuition out of pocket.

A Personal Worry About Brexit

While I sit here and wait for updates regarding the vote count and outcome of the EU Referendum which I wrote on earlier today, I can’t help but consider how this influences my unique situation.

Given that I’m a dual citizen, holding both an American and a British passport, I have the liberty of being able to live an work anywhere in the EU as well as any of the common wealth nations under the Queen’s rule (e.i. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.). If the UK succeeds in separating from the EU, then my personal dreams of living in France are done, unless I manage to go to school over there (which is just a passing whimsy since my French just ain’t that good), as well as my hopes to live on a river boat in Holland.

However, my direct situation is greatly influenced by this as well. I’m looking at taking out an extremely hefty loan from Sallie Mae, about which I literally have read pages and pages upon horrific reviews on Consumer Affairs. I’ve been terrified to take out loans with them, but they are literally my only option since they’re the only non-federal student loan company that works with Durham University.

So while I’m sitting here, trying to convince myself to bite the bullet and just send in my FAFSA application already so that I can know that I’m going to school this fall, I am suddenly struck with the horror of how this EU thing is going to possibly screw me, personally, over.

As mentioned in my previous post (which I linked further up), the decision for the UK to leave the EU has an extremely strong possibility of dropping the pound’s value. This could actually work out for me, since it would mean I have to take out less in US Dollar (USD) loans to cover my tuition. However, the bigger picture is that if the pound’s value drops, then that means the economy has dropped, and it has been suggested over and over again that a recession will follow. In 2007, a recession hit the UK, as well as the EU, and on to the US. If one has a recession, then the rest follow. That means that my likelihood of finding a job after college is less, which means I’m very much less likely to be able to pay back my very steeply interest-rated student loans.

So, I wait another day, sitting on my Financial Aid spreadsheet, hoping that I’m not waiting too long before I have the door shut on me for starting this year at Durham University. I feel like I would be silly to apply the day before I find out I’m 100% screwed with debt. This is a huge decision. I’ve never had to deal with this much money before, and the implications of what tomorrow could be like are absolutely terrifying to me.

For information of how this will influence students, I have found the following articles:
The Complete University Guide: EU Referendum – How does the European Union affect universities and students?” This is mostly about how it affects students in the UK and in the EU.
Fortune:Why U.K. Universities Are Really Worried About ‘Brexit’
Student World Online:How Will EU Decision Affect International Students in the UK?

I’ll Just Be a Beach Bum in the South of France

I hit a hard place. I’ve been trying to file for Financial Aid to go to school in the UK. My mom, Hell bent that because I’m a British citizen that happens to reside in the US, decided to reopen the case of how to get residential tuition for Durham. I went back and looked at my application in UCAS, and noticed something that might have been of some importance: For some reason, I had answered “no” on both questions asking if I or my parents had lived and/or worked in the UK.

I wrote to UCAS, alerting them to the error, which they happily changed, and then wrote to Durham, who was more than happy to let me know that I qualified to be reevaluated. After a lot of gathering of information and scanning it all into the computer (and I do mean a lot of information) and sending it off, I was informed that I didn’t qualify for residential tuition because it had been more than three years since I’d lived and worked over there.

I’m hung up on the loan system over here in the US. I can’t do it. I can’t pay the amount of interest for student loans. I can’t do it. I’m working 70 hour work weeks so that I can get out of debt, and I don’t want to keep being in the amount of debt with impossible interest rates just so I can get a piece of paper. This is part of the reason I stayed out of college to begin with! I can’t do it, and I just don’t wanna!

So my options are this:

  1. I suck it up, and take the US loans
  2. I move to the UK, hope I get a job that pays £18+ an hour and work 40 hours a week so I can save up for one year’s worth of tuition
  3. Move to the UK and live and work there for 3 years to get residency and reapply to universities, hoping that my AA from the community college is still applicable, and be able to apply for scholarships and British Financial Aid
  4. Apply to schools in the US so I can qualify for scholarships
  5. Apply to European Universities which offer free or greatly reduced tuition
  6. Scrap the whole idea and just move to Europe anyway and eat cheese and speak French

I won’t lie, I’m mostly leaning towards option 6, except for the part that I’ve worked so hard and come so far in my education. However, if I did that, I could just gain residency in the EU, and while it wouldn’t help me get the British tuition, it would help me get a reduced tuition (from what I’m eligible for currently). However, again, it would be a matter of potentially waiting another three years. But then again, it would really strengthen my re-application to be fluent (which I think after 3 years in France or wherever, I’d be damn near fluent) in a second language.

These are the things rolling around in my head. I think perhaps a lot of my uncertainty of what to do boils down to my exhaustion. As I mentioned, I”m working 70 hour work weeks. I took sick days this week because my back and hip is so messed up from my coffee warehouse gig–and those are the first days I’ve had off since May 1st (that’s 25 days of working, for those of you wondering).

Plus, I’ve had the carrot of l’Ecole Normale Supérieure dangled in front of me, which is a University of a higher ranking than Durham in Paris, where I could study philosophy in French–and that is quite a tasty looking carrot. However, I know that in order to get into such a school, I’d have to have a lot more fluency under my belt than the one college year of French. But golly! What a fantastic dream it is to have…..

Still Figuring Funds

I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t look into this sooner. I just applied for FAFSA for Durham University. No idea why I didn’t do this sooner.

Because all the universities I’ve gotten into so far are counting me as a non-resident, and it’s going to take me 3 years to gain residency–which, by the way, is the duration of my Bachelor’s degree–I’m looking at £16,500 for tuition. That translates to about $23,600 as the currency rates stand now.

There’s the possibility that I can get $14k toward school, which still leaves me another $8.5k to figure out, but I’m over half way there! I’m still looking into scholarships and loans overseas, but this is a start, if I can manage getting it.

 

 

 

Lots of Happenings This Week – Part I

A lot has happened in the last week, college-wise, that is.

Apparently after the first year in college, FAFSA requires a degree audit. So after a few emails of Financial Aide yelling at me to make an appointment with the Financial Aid Adviser at the school, I got in to my long-ago set appointment.

Initially I had made the appointment to talk about Learning Contracts. I had this amazing offer to tour Europe this summer, I just had to pay for my flight over there. After a lot of hmming and hawing, my boss in the Learning Center suggested I do learning contracts over the summer while I travel. Learning contracts are just what they sound like, you set up a contract with a professor to do an independent study, with assignments you both agree on that will earn you x amount of credits. I made an appointment with  the Learning Contracts Advisor so she could give me the details.

Somewhere during our appointment she pointed out that I was enrolled in the Associates of Arts and Sciences Transfer English degree that was specific to Western Washington University. Since I’m not planning on going there, she suggested I do a generic Arts and sciences degree, which would shave off some math and English requirements, and get me closer to finishing. THEN she went on to say something about the Liberal Arts Degree, which isn’t a transfer degree, but would get rid of a lot of my requirements and replace them with electives. This was fascinating to me.

I thought about it, and emailed my Durham contact and the gentleman that I met when I took the General Studies Admissions Exam for Columbia University. I told them my predicament, that I was debating between the two degrees, and my main concern was that one of them wasn’t a transfer. Columbia said that it doesn’t matter what degree I go for at a community college, all they’re looking for is a few demonstration semesters to show my academic ability. Durham said that they don’t care what degree I have, just as long as I get an AA and take classes that pertain to the degree I want to get trough them. Both told me my credits wouldn’t transfer over.

So! My next step of the Learning Contract was to find out Financial Aide’s allowance, and what they needed from me. This was the initial reason I made the appointment.

However! Due to the car wreck, I can no longer afford to get to Europe. Aside from the fact that I now need a new car, it’s expensive to get into a wreck! With towing and signing my car over to them and te citation, I’m out over half a grand!

I kept the appointment with Financial Aid to make the emails stop. I told my advisor about them when I went in, and she laughed, saying I hadn’t done anything wrong, they just automatically go out after four quarters. I told her about my contemplation about the change in degrees, and she looked at my transcript. She had me signing the papers to change it before I knew what was going on. The next thing I knew was she was having me sign papers that said I would be graduating at the end of fall quarter! I have seven classes I need to take and then I’m done, and since I’m doing three classes in the summer, she insisted I do four classes in the fall. This is already proving to be tricky. in fact, the way it’s looking, I’ll be doing five classes – three normal five credit classes, and then two Honors classes, since I need two more to graduate with Honors.

So that’s intense.

I’ll leave the story off there…You can read about the other things that have happened in later entries 🙂