Don’t make the same mistakes I did with your student loans

16 Mar

Student loans

For many underprivileged students like I once was, student loans are a way to pursue higher education so you can change your life for the better.

But when you graduate with the excess debt, many student–including myself–don’t truly understand money and loans and how repayment works. Further, many students don’t even know how much they owe, what their interest rate is or do enough research on student loan repayment companies. You see, most of us graduated with Federal Student Loans and we’re not entirely sure what we’re supposed to do. Herein lies the problem and it’s a big problem that will impact your life for 10-30+ years depending on the amount.

I graduated in 2001 with a Master’s degree and accumulated $60,000 in student loans. At the time, the feds were charging almost 8% interest and for the first time in history, loan companies were offering dramatically lower interest rates. So I received some direct mail piece, called the number and decided to transfer my student loans to ACS. This single move would cause more stress than anything I have ever experienced in my life.

ACS offered me 5.75% interest and my repayments were going to be $400 for 30 years. It was a hard number to swallow. And stupid me at the time, I sucked at money and didn’t understand that this was way off. (Note: I just called ACS today on 3/16/2010 and asked the customer service rep how much would the payment be for a $60,000 loan with 5.75% for 30 years, she said $166. So why was I being forced to pay $400 is beyond me!)

When the repayments began, I just found a job and wasn’t making much money. So when I called and told them my situation and they said I could do a forbearance for 6 months. So I agreed. 6 months later when I started making my payment, my student loans went from $60,000 to almost $67,000. That’s over $1,000 a month!!

I was mad, but felt like I was trapped. When you consolidate, you can’t transfer your loans and you’re stuck. So for 5+ years, I sucked it up made $400 a month payments. In 5 years, I paid $24,000 and out of that $18,000 went to interest. Yes, $18,000!

Then about 2 years ago, my husband received a postcard from CFS (Collegiate Funding Service) about consolidating and I called and asked if there was any way I could consolidate my loans with his. I figured any way I could escape the clutches of ACS I would take. They said I couldn’t and then informed me of a loophole that Bush opened up. For the first time ever, students could transfer their loans to another loan company. I couldn’t believe it. Then I called Sallie Mae and they too confirmed it. So I hustled like it was no one’s business and in less than a week sent my loans to CFS. They offered me a benefit rate of 4.5% for making direct deposit payments and 2 years of on-time payments). Thank god, I hustled because less than 2 weeks later, the loophole closed.

Now get this. When I spoke with CFS, I explained that in 5+ years and $400 payments, I owed $60,000. Funny, how that was the original loan amount I graduated from school with. She crunched some numbers and told me if I continued to pay $400 a month, my loans would be paid off in 19 years–not 30 years! And I saved over $70,000 in interest. You have no idea how much I cried.

2 years later, CFS was sold to Chase and my loans have gone from $60,000 to $50,800. (I sent in a little extra some months) How in the hell do you explain that? In 2 years, I shaved off almost $10,000 and when I had ACS for 5 years, I barely shaved off $7,000. WTH!

So you can imagine my surprise when 2 weeks ago, I received a letter from Chase saying my loan has been sold to you won’t believe it, but ACS. Can you believe it? So of course I am worried and scared that something bad is about to happen.

I spent almost an hour on the phone with Chase yesterday begging for some kind of documentation of my benefits rate so I have something in case ACS tries to take advantage of me. They are sending me a document in a week.

I just called ACS today and she (Nicole) said when my Chase student loans are transferred, they will honor the 4.5% interest rate and my payment schedule and amount shouldn’t change. But only time will tell.

The lesson: research, research, research. Know what you owe, how long you will owe for it and ask for the fine print. And whatever you do, do not ever consolidate with ACS. Call me crazy, but check out all these complaints regarding ACS.  Their stories and experiences are not only scary, but sad. I totally understand their stress and feel bad for them. Here are even more ACS student loan complaints. Here is a class action lawsuits against ACS.

No one can protect yourself from loan companies like ACS so your best course of action is to just avoid them entirely and know everything you can about your student loans so you never get taken advantage of like the way I did.

Here’s a great article about how a mother and her daughter got in over their heads with student loan debt. Remember, the profession you choose is more important than the name of the college you attend. Know what your potential earning salary is and then decide whether it’s worth it to invest tens of thousands of dollars toward it.
P.S. Future student should pray that President Obama’s student loan plan where the government becomes the source for student loans and not commercial lenders passes. At least, we could hold the government accountable if they tried to screw innocent kids over.

UPDATE: As of March 2013, I paid off my student loans. Yippee. I am free from ACS! See how I paid off my ACS student loans here.

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25 Responses to “Don’t make the same mistakes I did with your student loans”

  1. Philip Livingston June 27, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

    ACS acquired my student loan from Wachovia (who also got bail out funds using my loan on their books). The amount is a little over $14K. Since I started paying on the loans years ago, my 68-dollar fee has been automatically withdrawn from my banking account monthly and sent to Wachovia. NOW, ACS says they acquired the loan. They, somehow added $100 to the amount and sucked away the first payment without my permission. Now they want me to resign an agreement. I will join a class action suit against ACS. I do not have any contracts with them and did not give them permission to double my payment. I am fighting this one.

    • Valere ponder January 1, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

      Anyone help plz! I am currently with ACS I don’t like them and I want to reconsolidate with another company if possible.. I consolidated in 2003

  2. lizardpak August 16, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    I just wanted to give an update about my student loans with ACS. So far, ACS is honoring my original interest rate of 4.75% with (CFS/Chase) as well as the .25% deduction for good payments.

    And it seems the amount is coming down at the same rate as it did with CFS/Chase.

    To Philip Livingston, I am not surprised that ACS added $100 to your student loans. Like I said in my post, ACS is shady and I still continue to monitor my loans like a hawk. I call every month to check on payment and the amount paid towards the principal. Good luck in your fight!

    • Sarah November 15, 2011 at 4:47 am #

      My CFS loan was also taken over by ACS. I asked how to make payments on the principal, and they said it was not possible… I feel that is illegal. Do you know how to apply extra money towards principal? Also, my monthly rate is the same as it was with CFS, and the interest rate is supposedly the same, but somehow the interest I accrue every month is higher than my monthly payment. This also seems odd. Any advice?

      • lizardpak November 16, 2011 at 2:51 am #

        Hi Sarah. As far as I know, the only way to make an extra payments towards the principal is to time your next payment. So let’s say your payment is due on the 15th, you make your usual monthly payment. On the 16th, call them and make the additional payment. Because no interest has really accrued in the one day since your monthly payment, every penny you send will go towards principal. I have done this and it works.

        I believe the interest you are accruing higher based on the amount you owe. Not sure if it’s a lot, but if that’s happening, that’s what I suspect. Your student loan is set up like a house loan, an ammortized (sp?) loan. All the interest is piled on first, making it really hard to pay it down because as you try, it’s also earning more interest. The only way I have figured out how to get around this to pay this off as soon as humanly possible.

        As I mentioned earlier, I have been working around the clock for the past year in an effort to wipe this out because I HATE ACS. I have even been extreme couponing to help me accomplish my goal. I am managed to pay of 2/3 of my loan off in one year. Now that I have paid off so much, I am now seeing the majority of my monthly payments go to principal. I believe out of my $409 payment, $300 goes towards principal now. But like I said, it took sending 2/3 of the total loan to get that to happen. I know it’s no ideal for everybody. I just made up my mind and then made myself work pretty much day and night, juggling multiple jobs and couponing to make this happen.

        Good luck!

        As of the beginning of the

  3. Nathan March 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Here another one for all you student loaners….. Back when I was taking out student loans in 2006 I received what Wachovia called the Triple Payback Three Program. One of my biggest loans was eligible. You were supposed to get 1% rebate after the first ACH, 1% after the twelve, and 1.5% after the Twenty-Fourth.

    I have been making payments since November 2009 and just found out that I have received no rebates……

    ACS has been working on this for months and I am sure in the end they will try to screw me. Stay tuned..

    • lizardpak March 17, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

      OMG! I FN hate ACS! I just called them to tell them I wanted to send them a big extra payment this month.

      I was told if you ever want to send extra and you do not call, they will just apply it your monthly payments. So let’s say you owe $400 a month and you send a check for $2000 and you don’t call. Even though your scheduled for automatic payments, they won’t take it. Instead, that $2000 you sent counts as the next 5 monthly payments. Bullshit!

      I told her I was calling to tell them I was sending a big extra payment. I was told I need to call after they apply my monthly payment which happens on the 28th. WTH!

      In addition, if I send it by mail on the 18th of the month and let’s say it takes 7-10 days to arrive and I call them back on the 28th at 4:00pm and they received it at 9:00 and process it, then because we missed each other, it will be applied as monthly payments instead of an extra payment.

      What fucking assholes! I am so through working with these jerks. Every month on the 28th, I will pay an extra $30 to Fed Ex a package to them overnight. I will ask for noon delivery and call them at 9:00am to tell them they will receive an extra payment.

      Whatever it takes, I will pay this off this year and not in 16 years. Right now, I am working three jobs and will send almost every penny I make to pay this off so I never have to deal with their shadiness ever again.

      And oh yeah, I asked her why they were so complicated. I asked why I can’t just call at any point in the month and say in addition to my monthly payment you will receive $2000 to put towards the principal? She said it’s their system. Of course, it’s their system to fuck helpless kids over who just got the bad luck of having their student loans with this bloodsucking company.

  4. Shelley Kemmerer August 14, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    Hello, and thank you for listening to my complaint!

    To keep a long story short; I, as well as thousands of others with student loan debt, have been raped and pillaged by ACS Education Loans over the past several years. They’ve flip-flopped carriers so many times that I’ve barely been able to keep track of the names that this company has turned over to within the time I’ve held this loan. After doing some of my own research, as well as working full-time, at times working more than one one & going to school to keep my payments manageable, I’ve come to realize I am not the only one that has been swindled by ACS Education Loans. I logon to my computer and I type “ACS Student Loan Scams” and I am bombarded and sickened by the numerous hits that surface. What I am looking for is to vocalize this story for myself and the thousands of others that this has affected. I am still dumbfounded by this misappropriation of money, and the fact that this “company” hasn’t been shut down yet. What is happening? Please view these websites below for further investigation, I would love to speak further on this topic. This can’t keep happening, I am working at a clinic as an M.A., attempting to finish my nursing school prerequisites, and because of this, I am being rejected left and right. We need justice now! Help me, and help US!

    http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/acs-education-c126458.html
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/finance/acs.html
    http://www.ripoffreport.com/collection-agency-s/acs-education-servic/acs-education-services-aka-ac-8b582.htm

  5. Lisa May 4, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    I have dealt with ACS too. I HATE THEM! WORST company EVER. I had no choice since my loans were ‘transferred there” but they are the scum of the earth and the most incompetent bunch of morons I have ever come across!

    Report them and the specific problem to the BBB. I did!

    Also there have already been several class action law suits against ACS

    Just have to say that Obama’s plan is NOT BETTER. You CAN NOT SUE THE GOVERNMENT so if they screw up your loan, you have not one ounce of legal re-course. At least with a private company you have recourse.

    • PaintItBlacc October 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      I HATE ACS-EDUCATION! These people are crooks. And for a while now I have been wondering, why is it that I’m paying my little $60 and change every month, and the outstanding balance does not seem to decrease.

      Check this:

      According to ACS-Education, my original loan amount was $4,375 (that’s just one of my accounts). As of today my outstanding balance totals to $4,223.17.

      I checked my payment history, and I have made 14 payments from Jun/2011 through Oct/2012 each payment ranging from $50-$100 (I like to be ahead of my bills to avoid late fees, keeping a rolling credit).

      Now my total payments have equaled $1,094.64. See the con anyone?

      How on earth do I have an outstanding balance of $4,223.17 when my original loan amount was $4,375. Subtract $1,094.64 from that amount, I should have to pay only $3,280.36 (not counting the interest) but even so,

      HOW THE HELL CAN I MAKE OVER a $1,000 IN PAYMENTS TO A $4,000+ LOAN AND STILL HAVE TO PAY OVER $4,000 !!!

      Am I missing the joke here????

      These fuckers are playing god here, it reminds me of that speech from “The Devils Advocate”.

      ACS is laughing their sick fucking asses off.

      Look, but don’t Touch.
      Touch, but don’t Taste.
      Taste, but don’t Swallow.

      Pay every single month only to see that your outstanding balance does not decrease.

      • PaintItBlacc December 12, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

        ACS has sold one of my accounts to a lender called Brazos. Did this happen to anyone else?

  6. Gina November 2, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    How can I join the class action?? Even though my regular monthly fixed payment was made just a few days ago, the amount of interest that has “accrued” is equal to the amount of interest that will have accrued by the time my payment is due next, 11/28. How is this possible that interest has pre-accrued? If I make an extra payment, that payment will also be applied to that accrued interest. Also, ACS won’t let me make additional payments that can be applied only to principal. Is that legal?

    • lizardpak December 12, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

      Hi Gina. I don’t know of any class action lawsuit. I wish there was one.

      For ACS, there is only one way you can make additional payment towards principal and it is tricky.
      1) You must find out the exact date your payment is made every month
      2) For phone/online payment: Make the additional payment the day of your monthly payment
      For mail: Fed ex it overnight the day before your monthly payment is due

      By sending them the payment the same day your monthly payment is due, all the additional money will go towards principal.

      Every day, you are accruing interest. But the day your monthly payment is due, you have paid all the interest in full. By sending it the same day, not interest has been accrued yet…but tomorrow it will. So if you miss it by one day and send your payment the next day, probably 95% of your payment will go towards principal. Make sense?

      • MDenver January 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

        So to confirm: Doing this doesn’t trigger their crappy screw-the-student information system to hold onto your extra payment–that should go to principle–and apply it to make the future ACH monthly payments?

  7. L December 12, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    What can we do then? ACS got my student loan from Wells Fargo and I KNOW they’re crooked and make no sense, just can’t prove it. Wells Fargo had my loan for 4 years I was in forbearance at the time and only got $267 of interest charges. I’m still in forebarance and in just 1.5 years ACS has put over $4,000 of charges onto my once only $36,000 loan. It seems as though ACS is buying every companies student loans, who are they and whey are they getting all of our loans and making it impossible to recover and pay these loans back?

    • lizardpak December 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

      Hi @L. How long were you in forbearance at Wells Fargo? Based on my scenario, I had $7k tacked on over 6 months in forbearance and my original loan amount was $60k. So sounds like it is similar.

      At this point, there is only one thing you can do. Pay it off. Fast. Put yourself on a financial diet and pay extra every month. And not just $50, but more if you can. Until you are able to put down $18,000 towards your loan, your monthly payment will always look something like this: 70% towards interest, 30% principal. If you can get it down as fast as possible to halfway point, it should flip and you’ll start to see your monthly payment do something like this: 70% principal, 30% interest.

      It sucks.

  8. PaintItBlacc March 7, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

    Thank goodness, I am no longer under ACS-Education. They sold both of my loans to other lenders. One of the went to Brazos (whose website is very shoddy) and the other went to AES Success. To be honest I don’t bother making a fuss paying bills to a company who actually has their website together. AES and GreatLakes did a fantastic job with their interface providing ample information whilst being user friendly. That helps me be a lot less bitter.

    • TMJ4477 April 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

      Lucky….you got away from ACS!

  9. Tim March 23, 2013 at 3:53 am #

    My name is Tim, I was threatened by ACS and was made to sign another contract with them. My beginning balance was approximatly $31,000. 00 and was paying interest rate of 4.5% for 30 years. When I first refused they harrassed me even at work and I was written up for excessive phone calls and was threatened with wage garnishment, so I gave in. I received a letter in the mail today stating in recent review, we have adjusted your monthly installment so that your loan will be paid off within the reamaining terms of your loan. Your new monthly payment has been recalculated to $363.08 at 7.5% intersest beginning with your next bill. I have 286 payments left according to them. I never signed a new contract with them, just the one that said my payments was locked at $356.44 after the first harrassment from them. Now keep in mind I have been paying on this loan for over a year. My payoff is $103,290.64 if i keep paying the monthly payments according to them. $49,232.79 is the unpaid principle balance. plus accrued unpaid balance of $182.56 plus projected interest to be payed during repayment is $53,875.29….So added all up that gives them more than double. Funny thing about this is unless my math skills are not correct, ” it’s been known to happen” but if you take the 283 payments left x$363.08 you should get $102751.64 and add the additional $356.44 for the last payment you should get $103118.08 not $103290.64.. So that being said it shows that they still charge you more than what the amount was at the last payment given and can change your monthly balance with out notification or rebutal.. I thought loan sharks was illegal. Obviously I was mistaken. All of this BS was for an associates degree. I have litterally been bent over and screwed. I would have enjoyed getting the kiss of death on the cheek with a rose…I will say this, before this laon is payed off I will be pushing up daisies with a tomb stone heading reading death from ACS. bacause out of one years payment of $4356.96..3692.46 will be in interest, leaving $664.50 payed on the principle of $49,232.79 leaving me a balance of $48568.29 for the following year. FYI you file this on your taxes of interest payed to school loans you may get $100.00 back. LOL !!! If you are an illegal immagrant, a prisoner or have a green card you could have got all this for free plus the government would have set you up in business at the tax payers expense.

  10. Adam Brunt August 25, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    ACS education services are horrible I can not believe they are in business when we have not chosen to be working with them and the suck! They obviously have some kind of unbreakable bond with the student loan machine even though they are not accredited by the BBB and have an ugly history in general. We need to shut these guys down!

  11. j9 October 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    Elizabeth,

    Have you ever considered any legal action against them or did you just get rid of your loan with them instead of the time suck and additional money it would take to hire a lawyer? My husband has been paying off his loans for a while and they are playing the same games everyone mentions with him too.

    I’m just curious if you felt it was worth the effort. With all of the amazing technology that is available, I can’t believe I was on hold for 20 minutes before they disconnected me today or that you can’t make a simple payment to principal like I do on the mortgage quite easily.

    The last time we put a chunk of $ down the person on the phone said it would not automatically push the next due day out. Luckily, I went into the system the next week and found his next scheduled payment had been put out to January after a payment made in March. Their practices are a crime, which is the only reason we might consider action to prevent all of the people who get caught up in this shady operation.

  12. K May 18, 2016 at 2:26 am #

    I know this is an old post but here’s my story with ACS and I hope something will come of the xlass action suit agsibst them.
    ACS suggested I defer my loan on different occasions when I was unemployed and also only employed part time. It was not made clear to me at that time that the interest would still accrue and exactly how much additional was added to the total cost of my loan . Currently my loan balance is $21,184.43 and the anticipated time for payoff is 14 years from now . I will be 57 years old when this loan is fully paid. ACS has mislead me and they are absolutely horrid to try to work with . The website is useless , they send encrypted messages that are not accessible , then when you call the answer is ” Sorry I can’t help you with that ” , literally that is the customer service rep answer ? I have tried applying for a Loan Forgiveness program as I currently work for a non profit. ACS informed me that the current FFEL loan I have ( also under their recommendation) is not eligible Public Service Loan Forgiveness. When I applied to change to a different loan that would qualify , they denied me . Something does not add up , and I feel like I have been scammed in the worst way possible . I would very much like to apply for a Public Service Loan Forgiveness program as well as change the servicer that I need to deal with. More importantly , what becomes of the last 16 years that I have paying on a $21,184.43? ?balance that seems to have remained the same ?? Even large corporate banks will ” settle” for lessor amounts due to changes in financial situations , but this isn’t an option for a student loan ? ?I understand that the loan has has previous unemployment deferments and forbearance , however ?the numbers still do not seem to add up.No one should be paying for a student loan when they are nearing retirement age . More needs to be done to protect people from deceptive businesses like ACS.

    • lizardpak May 18, 2016 at 3:05 am #

      Hi. The loan is an amortized loan, so all the interest is stacked up. So it’s like 75% of your payment will go to interest for years which is why you can’t dent it.

      Possibly consider doing 0% interest credit cards. Some last for a year and half. Maybe transfer over a portion you can handle and try to make a dent that way. Talk to banks about small loans. ACS is the worst so keep trying and don’t give up.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Do This! Not That! With Your Student Loan Debt « Fiscal Foolishness: JD Wealth Services' Blog - July 9, 2012

    […] are on top of your game and know exactly how much your owe, mistakes like this won’t happen. One graduate explains the horror of having a loan payment and loan balance that didn’t mesh, a… DO: Know how much you […]

  2. I finally paid off my ACS student loans! | euphoria meets holy crap meets badass - March 4, 2013

    […] It seemed impossible. Paying off over $55,000 in student loan debt $409 a month at a time. But then something happened. My student loans got tossed around from CFS to Chase and then back to ACS, my original loan company. […]

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