Ashford University Student Loans: My Disturbing Experience
My Astronomical Loans from Ashford University
I went to Ashford University for a Bachelor's degree in Health Care Administration, and a Master's degree in Psychology. The Psychology degree isn't even APA accredited, but it was extremely expensive. You can read more about my experience at Ashford here, but this article focuses on the Monster called Paying Back My Student Loans. The Monster is quite huge, as you can see in the following picture:
How Much Do You Owe in College Loans?
There is a shred of hope in regards to these astronomical student loans.
There is a tiny, useful hack that can help you find out how much you owe in student loans. In Google, type this in: "nslds." It will take you to the NSLDS Student Access National Student Loan Data System. Go to the link that says 'Financial Aid Review.' Accept the Privacy Act if you wish. Create a Login, or Log In if you already have the login information. Accept where it mentions another security page if you wish.
Here, you will be able to see all your loans and all your grants. Here you will feel your heart leap out of your body and experience cold sweats (like I did) when you see how much you truly owe. Here you will start to Google ways to try to get out of the loan and realize that most bankruptcies cannot clear your student loan. Here you might mentally suffer, and I apologize for that.
For paying off the total, I have no advice, because six months after I graduate in November, I need to figure out how I am going to start paying off this Monster.
For reference, at Ashford University, here is an example of what some of my psychology classes cost, and a few of the extra fees. You can see how easily this can add up over the years:
Hope for High Monthly School Loan Costs with ION Tuition
Ashford has something called ION Tuition, which you can access at iontuition.com. It helps to manage your repayment options and also offers refinancing options as well, supposedly. I haven't used it, but after I logged in, and clicked on IonManage, where it says "Repayment," It shows that I owe $102,973 at a 4.93% Average Interest rate, with a current monthly payment of $620...which I obviously can't afford. The daily interest accrual is $13.91. So if you go to Ashford, it's probably a good idea to pay something toward the interest, or it will heavily, heavily add up, and I never paid anything toward it, which was a terrible idea and which I will suffer for....soon.
Here is an example of what I owe in student loans, the interest, and what the monthly payments will be six months after I graduate:
My Conversation with an ION Specialist
I thought I'd share my exact conversation with an ION Specialist, as it provided HOPE, which is EXACTLY what I needed. I needed a shred of hope to know I would be okay, eventually. Here is the conversation:
My name is [ION Person]. How can I help you?
I graduate in November this year with my Master's degree in Psychology. I just found out through Ion that I will be having to pay $620.00 per month at a 4.93 interest rate. I just got a job on Monday that pays $15.00 per hour, for 20 hours a week. I won't be able to afford that. I think I have six months to start paying. Also, I have two kids (ages 8 and 10), I do not receive child support, and I will be getting a divorce soon. So I want to make sure I plan well for the changes that are coming soon. And thank you. What are my options?
After looking at your account, yes if you have not utilized your six month grace period, then you will have that additional time before you are required to make a payment. While in the grace status interest for subsidized loans would not accrue, but unsubsidized loans accrue interest from the day it is disbursed. Depending on your situation six months from November many students look into the income-driven repayment plan. This will base payments on family size and income. Some students qualify for payments as low as 50 dollars or less. The payment would be locked in for a whole year, and if you wish to continue with the plan, you must certify every 12 months. After being on this plan for 20-25 years, any remaining balance is forgiven.
I think I can do that. How can I start that process? I probably need to get the first paycheck from this job, I assume.
Because of your loan status, you may have to wait until after you have utilized your six month grace period.
Oh, thank you so much for your help. I truly appreciate it. You gave me hope, honestly!
That is what we are here for! I know anything can happen between now and then so please do not hesitate to reach back out to us with questions and concerns.
So after the six months after graduation, I contact Ion and try to begin the process.
Yes, reach back out to us, and we will revisit your situation and see what you will qualify at that time. In the meantime, if you want to make payments on your account before you are officially required to make payments, you can do so at your discretion.
Where can I make payments?
We do not take payments, but they can be made on your lender's site: this is who you hold your loans. Your servicer's information can be located under 'My Federal Servicer.'
This was the end of the conversation, after a few formalities. The conversation, did, indeed give hope, considering that for student loans, bankruptcy (except in excruciating circumstances) is almost never, ever an option.
My Conversation with a Member of Federal Student Aid
The conversation with the Federal Student AId personnel was less helpful, but I'll include it anyway because the information may contain useful information. The 'help' provided by the assistant was mostly a 'copy-and-paste' work but did contain a few tidbits of enlightening words.
What are my options to repay student loans? How do I find out how much I owe? How can I lower my payments?
Federal Student Aid person:
You may use the Repayment Estimator at StudentLoans.gov to obtain preliminary information about your eligibility and estimated monthly repayment amounts for each of the U.S. Department of Education’s student loan repayment plans. You can access the Repayment Estimator at https://StudentAid.ed.gov/repayment-estimator.
Please note that the Repayment Estimator is not intended to provide a final determination of your eligibility for a specific repayment plan or repayment amounts. Only your loan servicer can determine your eligibility for a specific repayment plan and calculate your actual repayment amounts. ( went to the repayment estimator link, and it did not work).
For more specific information, contact your loan servicer. If you are not sure who your loan servicer is, you can find out through My Federal Student Aid at our https://StudentAid.ed.gov website. To do so, go to https://StudentAid.ed.gov, click on the black “Log In” box (in the upper right corner of the web page), and then provide your personal information and Federal Student Aid FSA ID. (This is information that the previous person told me, except this offers more detail on how to find the loan servicer).
If you do not have an FSA ID or have forgotten your FSA ID, you can request one at https://StudentAid.ed.gov/fsaid. Please note that if you are requesting a new FSA ID, you will be unable to access My Federal Student Aid with your FSA ID until your application information has been verified with the Social Security Administration. This process generally takes one to three days.
To obtain contact information for the loan servicer, click on the loan type. (The loan servicer’s contact information is listed under ”Contact” in the Make a Payment section.)
You may want to visit our StudentAid.ed.gov website, which provides details about the U.S. Department of Education’s financial aid programs, eligibility criteria, application procedures, and award levels.
Again, except for a few ending formalities, this was the end of the conversation. In the conversation, we received some helpful information, even if most of it was copy and pasted and quite impersonal, but that's okay.
Final Thoughts on Repaying Ashford University Loan
I'll be graduating with my Masters in November 2018. I have to wait six months to apply for some kind of help, and it will be based on my income, which is meager, at best.
While there are several options to explore, this article focused on finding out how to discover how much you owe, and also on learning how to use ION to pay a lower amount per month, if you qualify. (There's always that if...) Paying $50 per month is a lot more manageable than $600 per month.
If the loan can be forgiven after doing this for some time, depending on your income, then great.
On Ion, I haven't explored, or inquired, about the refinancing option, but it's there. According to the site: "Refinancing may lower your interest rates by replacing your existing student loans with a new loan based on your credit score." It's a shred of hope when looking down the barrel of this monster called a "student loan." The hope, ultimately, is being able to pay a lower amount, monthly, for a fixed amount of years instead of paying the equivalent of a house mortgage or apartment rent. Keep in mind that the new monthly rate will be based on your income.
The Master's degree got me a $15 an hour job as a counselor as a 32-year-old single woman with two children. I guess that's a start, considering my only other education before this was a year's worth of pharmacy technician school in an overpriced technical college with nontransferable credits...but that's another story.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Charlotte Doyle