Ah yes… Time once again to take a quick look at my student loan for the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. This loan aggravates me for a variety of reasons (which I’ll state below). I am pleased to announce, though, that I’ve made somewhat significant progress in paying down this loan to a less unruly level than when my repayment began. Since I began repaying the loan, I’ve reduced the principal due by a few thousand dollars, which is pretty good considering the interest rate.
Anyway, some things about this loan just make me (and thousands of others, I’m sure) mad:
- Interest Rate: I’m paying some 7.33% interest on my NJCLASS loan. That’s just too high of an interest rate for a borrower like me, who has an 800 credit rating. For comparison’s sake, my Direct Loan from the federal government has a 4.25% interest rate – much more acceptable.
- No Online Payment: I’m not sure how, in the year 2009, NJHESAA does not have an online repayment option. That’s crazy. When I graduated from Rutgers with my Masters Degree I had three student loans. One of them was to CitiBank. I was able to pay back the entire CitiBank loan (which was probably $8,000+) in less than a year because of the online payment options. NJHESAA is really missing out on getting an extra $50 here or $250 there in online payments. Either that, or they’ve strategically opted to not have an online payment gateway.
- Balance Inquiries: In a related point, the NJHESAA has no active online resources for borrowers in repayment. In other words, I can’t log-on to their website and check my balance or see my previous payment history. All of this is available with the federal government’s Direct Loans program.
- You’re Stuck: However, one of the most aggravating parts of the NJCLASS repayment is that you’re stuck with NJHESAA. I can go out and find better repayment terms from another lender, but I would not be able to pursue the improved terms without NJHESAA approving me taking out their entire loan. Let me rephrase that so everyone understands… I can go to Bank of America and get approved for a 4.5% loan specifically to repay my NJHESAA loan. However, I cannot repay my NJHESAA loan in full by switching to Bank of America without NJHESAA’s approval to do so. Talk about dealing in a fair marketplace…
One of the things that really irks me about this loan, though, is more of a historical aggravation in that NJHESAA once reported me to the credit bureaus as having paid 30 or 60 days late…while the loan was still being deferred because I was still in school! Talk about complete insanity!? And when I called them up to complain, they said that while they agreed that the report to the credit bureaus was an error on their part, there was nothing they could do about it. This negatively affected both my credit score and my Mother’s credit score since she was a co-signer at the time. Bear in mind that both my Mom and I have never made a late payment on any account at any point in time ever. Thankfully, I’ve disputed NJHESAA’s erroneous report with all three credit bureaus and they’ve removed the late payment error.
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While the entire student loan industry needs a vast amount of reform, at this point I’d settle for a company like NJHESAA getting itself into the 21st Century with an online payment and loan balance/information portal!