Last night I had a dream that I was writing the most brilliant blog post ever. Of course, when I woke up, I had no recollection what it was about. But it served to remind me that this thing is here, and that after the time I spent setting it up I had ought to put it to good use.
Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to write about student loan consolidation. My old blog probably had some rants on the subject. Overall, I recommend it. It’s a whole lot easier (and probably cheaper payments-wise) to have all your student loans in one place rather than receiving multiple bills.
What irks me, however, is the tactics that student loan consolidation outfits are resorting to to get your business. Like on the level of prescription drug spammers and junk mail factories. Apparently, as soon as word gets out that you have some student loans, some sort of network of mailing lists is put into play that is picked up on by dozens of rabid hungry consolidation lenders, all with similar, official-sounding names like “National Student Funding Foundation” that are intentionally chosen to sound like some sort of reputable nonprofit or government agency, in the manner of the fake organizations set up by PR companies who try to pass off bogus “research” as authoritative. These consolidation companies then spring into action sending you mailing after mailing, all of which are carefully made up to be similarly official-looking, purporting to have important information or announcements about your student loans that require your immediate attention. “Please contact us regarding your student loans.” But they’re basically ads.
It gets worse if you actually choose to consolidate with one, or just already have multiple loans through different agencies and lenders, because the names all sound so similar and official, and often one company’s loans are serviced or otherwise handled through another company with one of those names, or there is some business relationship between companies with different names that you don’t know about and nobody bothered to tell you. For instance, after I applied for a consolidation with Student Funding Services, I started getting mail from American Education Services. Taking it for more ads from yet another consolidation company trying to attract my business, I didn’t bother paying much attention to them. But then it turned out that they were in fact, documents I needed to fill out and information I needed, because AES “services” loans for SFS or some such thing. Meanwhile you’re still getting these cleverly disguised ads from different places. And, check this out, my SFS/AES loans show up on my credit report under acronym names that are neither “SFS” nor “AES.” I think there’s ACS and then there’s a duplicate report of the same account that lists it as something like “PSC/ACS.”
Plus you get their telemarketers. I actually went with Student Funding Services because I got one of these unsolicited phone solicitations and the guy on the other end, a one Jon Sullivan, actually didn’t treat me like an idiot, didn’t come off like he was trying to put one over on me, wasn’t pushy, and took the time to examine my somewhat complicated array of loans and give me detailed, intelligent answers to my numerous questions. I was so surprised to be not having my intelligence insulted, let alone that the company had actually bothered to hire someone who could actually speak English (something that seems to be too much to ask from many of these companies), that they had my business on the spot.
Anyway, that was way back in July and the consolidation isn’t quite complete even now. I’ve been getting impatient. I’m trying to buy a house and the mortgage company is breathing down my neck about the page and a half of different student loan accounts that are still yet to be tied up in a neat little bundle, demanding that I secure 12-month deferments from each and every one of them and provide them with papers to prove it. And I’m still getting tons of clever mailings and pushy phone calls from different consolidation places. Keeping the ads sorted out from mail that legitemately pertains to my real student loans is enough to drive a person batshit crazy.