travel, hike, eat. repeat.

my adventures are often on a budget… and always clumsy.

cuStudent Loans social media representative emails me

Where the storm ends (taken at The Reservoir, DC)

Something completely unexpected happened yesterday. Kenneth, the guy who handles cuStudent Loans‘ twitter account (@CollegeRC), emailed me with tips and helpful information about improving my credit and consolidating my private loans, all from reading my blog posts!

Working with Sallie Mae these past four years since I graduated hasn’t been easy. I honestly didn’t know that I’m in an interest-only repayment plan for 4 years until I started doing all this research. How could I not know that?! At first, I blamed myself. But the truth is – when I called Sallie Mae 3 years ago to talk with a customer service agent, to try to figure out how to get my payments to a manageable place, it wasn’t explained to me what was happening. I was told the lowest plan had me paying xxx dollars. My repayment terms weren’t explained to me at all.

Y’all, it’s highway robbery. Doing all this research has made me feel vulnerable, weak, completely alone and dirty – like I’ve been involved in a shady deal. That’s what the whole student loan industry feels like right now.

So when Kenneth emailed me, it completely took me off my guard. I’m still wary of cu’s program, especially of their 1% origination fee, but receiving incredibly personalized, kind customer service with tips that made me feel like someone in this industry cares went a long way in making me reconsider their offer.

I’d like to share with y’all his full email, because I think the advice and tips he offers are great and solid for any graduate with student loan debt! After reading it, I’ve already looked into consolidating my federal loans and requested an official credit report (I use Credit Karma but requested a report from Experian, as well).

I hope you find his advice helpful, as well!

-C

Hey Cyndi,

When it comes to enhancing credit for a consolidation, here are some things you can do.  After a few months, credit can increase as a result.

1.  Get a copy of your credit report and check for errors.  Our application uses Experian, so you want to make sure this report is updated: http://www.experian.com/ You may be surprised about the amount of errors, or loans double counted that should only be listed once.

2.  Make sure your federal loans are consolidated at http://www.loanconsolidation.ed.gov/  This will help to organize repayment into one monthly amount due.  Federal consolidation also offers more flexible repayment plans, and you may be able to have the monthly payment amount reduced by extending the loan term.  Stick to the repayment schedule consistently.

3.  If you have any Credit Card Debt, maximize payments and eliminate them as quickly as possible.  However, keep your credit card accounts open after paying them off.  Do not cancel the cards at zero balance, because having established credit on open trade lines creates credit “capacity” and actually improves your credit score.

4.  Any new credit card balances should be paid off in the first months statement.

Keep in mind the cuGrad consolidation does have a cosigner release option available after 12 consecutive full principal and interest payments are  made.  If the primary borrower can be approved for the loan on a stand alone basis, the cosigner is then released.  This may be helpful for you as you look to potentially add a cosigner to get approved.

I saw your new blog update and you brought up some great points.

Since this program has no prepayment penalty, I’d recommend making prepayments as aggressively as possible.  This is a good strategy to mitigate future rate variability, because if a large portion of the loan principal is paid, it would lower the amount of interest that could accrue if rates did go up.

Please let me know your loan ID after you start the application so I can follow up: http://www.custudentloans.org/our-loans/cugrad-private-student-loan-consolidation/

Thanks and have a great day!

Ken

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