I have student loans with 3 separate companies: Nelnet, Edfinancial and a private loan through my first liberal arts college.
The first two sets of loans are currently in forbearance/deferment until March 2013 because I do not make any money. Or, I don't make enough money under the income based repayment plan to actually qualify to make any payments. I should probably start paying something on the loans regardless, but I never do. Do you want to know why? Because they make it impossible for me to access my accounts to actually make payments.
Things Student Loan Providers Do To Make Actually Paying Them Impossible:
1. The website is impossible to navigate.
Nelnet is a classic example of this. The website is set up that once you login, after all your failed attempts and reset password tries, it takes you to your profile page. Now, that's fine. Except that it's the only page you will be able to see ever again. Any time I click a link about "loan deferment or repayment options", the link just reloads the profile page. Time and time again.
Edfinancial also just locked me out of my account because I had exceeded the number of login attempts, after one try. And now, I will attempt to deal with them via phone. Let's see how that goes.
2. When you call their hotline, you have to wait at least 30 minutes before you even get to the option to speak to a person.
I just sat through at least 15 minutes of unimportant jibber-jabber trying to call Edfinancial to reset my password because you cannot do it online. The fact that it's 8:00 in the morning apparently has no effect on the number of people they have actually answering the phones, but I eventually gave up on ever talking to a person. I hung up. On top of the terrible hold music and excessive waiting times, the very first thing I heard when I called was a message about the scheduled payments for April 28. Well, that's all fine and dandy but maybe I just need to reset my password. Oh, there's no option for that. Gotta click Zero. Gotta wait on hold for 8 million years. Where's my pen? I need to doodle some knives stabbing voraciously through the hearts of student loan providers everywhere. Ah. Now I feel better. Except nothing is resolved.
3. You can only schedule your payments for 3 specific days a month.
I don't really have too much of a problem with that honestly, because I am a fan of having routine and structure. My problem lies with not being able to make extra payments. Let's say I was super frugal this month (use your imaginations hard here.) And let's say that I suddenly found myself with an extra 100 dollars I wanted to put towards one of my student loans. Well, I know myself pretty well at this point. The longer money sits in my bank account, the more likely I am to find something to spend it on. Something I don't need. Something shiny or boozy or full of words. Well, with Edfinancial, I have to choose one of three predetermined days to schedule my payment for. These are usually the 1st, 15th and 30th or something like that. What if it's the 22nd of the month? I have to sit on my money for 8 days and let it taunt me with it's ability to buy shiny boozy things? Yes, that is exactly what I have to do, which now means that my attempt at financial responsibility is ruined. Foiled again.
4. They don't send you emails, they send you an "online assistance alert."
Edfinancial just "emailed" me to let me know that I had a secure message waiting for me at Edfinancial's secure message center. This message is only available until 07/03/12. There was a "secure" link I had to click on to retrieve the message that my account is now locked due to one too many access attempts. The one that I attempted earlier. Essentially they send me an email to let me know that I have email. That I'm now locked out of my account. Awesome guys. Thanks so much. Cause I didn't know.
5. When you send any paperwork to them via fax you have to call back repeatedly to make sure they are doing their jobs.
I just sent my 1040 form for 2011 to Nelnet to confirm my underemployment. I had to call them to get a fax number. But, on top of having to call them to get a fax number, I now have to call them back in 2 days to confirm that they actually received the fax AND THEN, providing they have, I have to call them back 7 days after that to make sure that it was actually entered and everything is copacetic. Why you ask. Well, so do I. Yes, faxes are unreliable and yes, they are probably inundated with inefficient people and their shitty faxes, but really. I have to call you back twice, going through the whole automated phone system again so I can make sure that someone did their job properly. Another Awesome guys. And if it's not correct, then what. Do I have to call you back after I send you yet another fax and then cal you back again. Is this my life? Chasing down student loan providers for jollies. Because I really do have better things to do with my time.
Okay. The last 2 weren't really about paying them, per se; they were just minor grievances I have with my providers right now. I'll probably attempt to call Edfinancial again today, because I could really use the deferment again this year. I don't have an extra $400 lying around every month. I barely have an extra $100 some months. And then, there's the months that I eat a bunch of migraine medicines and go shopping, but those are few and far between and I'm trying to keep it that way.