Student Loan Consolidation Catastrophe

Money in a bear trap
Consolidating student loans is a wise choice that many borrowers choose to undertake when they feel burdened by multiple loans or high interest rates. Unfortunately, student loan consolidation doesn’t always go smoothly.

In a story found on the Chicago Sun Times, a borrower named Elizabeth Towle revealed the catastrophic results that can accompany a student loan consolidation processing error.

Towle said she opted to consolidate her federal student loans through FedLoan Servicing because, as she understood it, she would receive lower interest rates once the student loan consolidation was completed.

However, after moving her $24,198 in federal loans to FedLoan Servicing in March, Towle was shocked to discover that her total jumped up to $88,957.45.

What followed next was two months of relentless calls before FedLoan Servicing finally realized—or admitted—that there was a mistake.

Eventually a refund was issued for $68,405.35. Unfortunately, however, the refund was not immediately applied to Towle’s balance. She was forced to pay sizable monthly installments on the false amount even though she shouldn’t have been responsible for the incorrect and massive balance.

Continuing this comedy of errors—and in spite of Towle’s timely payments—FedLoan Servicing contacted collection agencies. This caused Towle’s credit score to plummet. Her hope of refinancing her home was dashed as her credit sank as well.

As the Chicago Sun Times—and many other borrowers who sought similar student loan consolidations—discovered, FedLoan Servicing has been linked to a rash of consolidation errors that proved costly to borrowers who were ironically looking to save money.

Fortunately, FedLoan Servicing did address the issue—albeit at a far slower pace than most borrowers would have wanted.

FedLoan Servicing resolved Towle’s erroneous balance to its correct level and contacted the three credit reporting bureaus in order to correct their error. Considering Towle’s plight was covered in the middle of September, it may be a few months before Towle can confirm her credit is back to its proper level once again.

This no-doubt maddening experience is a lesson for borrowers who must recognize that while mistakes are rare, they do happen. Being cautious and staying on top of personal finances allowed Towle to jump on the error immediately.