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Personal Loans

OneMain Financial Personal Loan Review

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Disclosure : By clicking “See Offers” you’ll be directed to our parent company, LendingTree. You may or may not be matched with the specific lender you clicked on, but up to five different lenders based on your creditworthiness.

APR

16.05%
To
35.99%

Credit Req.

Varies

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

Varies

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If you have a credit score below 600, OneMain Financial is one of the few lenders that you can use to get a personal loan.... Read More


Not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral). Larger loan amounts require a first lien on a motor vehicle no more than ten years old, that meets our value requirements, titled in your name with valid insurance. Maximum annual percentage rate (APR) is 35.99%, subject to state restrictions. APRs are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle. The lowest APR shown represents the 10% of loans with the most favorable APR. Active duty military, their spouse or dependents covered under the Military Lending Act may not pledge any vehicle as collateral for a loan. OneMain loan proceeds cannot be used for postsecondary educational expenses as defined by the CFPB’s Regulation Z, such as college, university or vocational expenses; for any business or commercial purpose; to purchase securities; or for gambling or illegal purposes. Borrowers in these states are subject to these minimum loan sizes: Alabama: $2,100. California: $3,000. Georgia: Unless you are a present customer, $3,100 minimum loan amount. Ohio: $2,000. Virginia: $2,600.

Borrowers (other than present customers) in these states are subject to these maximum unsecured loan sizes: Florida: $8,000. Iowa: $8,500. Maine: $7,000. Mississippi: $7,500. North Carolina: $7,500. New York: $20,000. Texas: $8,000. West Virginia: $7,500. An unsecured loan is a loan which does not require you to provide collateral (such as a motor vehicle) to the lender.

OneMain Financial personal loan details
 

Fees and penalties

  • Terms: OneMain Financial offers personal loans for terms of 24 to 60 months.
  • APR Range: Loan APR ranges from 16.05% to 35.99%
  • Loan amounts: The minimum loan amount is $1,500 with a maximum amount of $30,000.
  • Time to funding: Can be same day but is usually no more than one day.
  • Hard pull/soft pull: Hard Pull when you apply.
  • Origination fee: Varies.
  • Prepayment fee: None.
  • Late payment fee: 5% of the amount in default.
  • Other fees: Lien recording fee if the loan is secured with an automobile: $55

OneMain Financial doesn’t offer much in the way of perks, but they do allow you to request changing your payment due date. They also are committed to helping customers understand finances by providing helpful resources.

OneMain Financial offers easy to find educational resources in the form of blog posts, courses, video tips and financial calculators.

From explaining financial terms to providing access to a free money management course, MoneySKILL, OneMain Financial stands by their mission of offering responsible loan products.

Eligibility requirements

  • Minimum credit score: Varies.
  • Minimum credit history: Must have some credit history, though they don’t specify the length required.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: OneMain Financial does not specify what debt-to-income ratio is acceptable.

Additionally, you’ll need to be a U.S. resident and at least 18 years old. Over all, OneMain Financial is looking to see that you are able to repay the loan with a stable income and are similarly stable when it comes to where you live.

Applying for a personal loan from OneMain Financial

OneMain Financial makes it easy to get started with a personal loan application. You can either apply online or at a local branch and receive an answer to your application usually within 10 minutes.

The application asks for basic personal identifying information as well as:

  • Your intended purpose for the loan
  • How long you’ve lived at your current residence
  • Your current employer
  • Your current salary
  • Types of other financial products you have, such as a checking or savings account

If you choose to apply online, you will have to go to a local branch to close on your loan. Whether you go to the local branch to start your application or close on the loan that you applied for online, you’ll need to bring the following documents for verification:

  • A copy of a valid, government-issued ID
  • Proof of residence
  • Proof of income

How long it takes to receive your funds, depends on how you would like the funds issued. You can choose to be issued a check or a prepaid debit card (up to $10,000), which can usually be issued the same day. Or you may choose to receive your funds via an ACH disbursement which can take up to two business days.

Pros and cons of a OneMain Financial personal loan

Pros:

Cons:

  • Fast loan processing. OneMain Financial’s application from start to receiving funds can take as little as one day.
  • No application fee. There is no application fee required when submitting your loan request.
  • Lots of local branches. OneMain Financial has hundreds of branches in 44 states, making it likely that you are not located far from the nearest branch.
  • Available to those with lower credit scores. OneMain issues personal loans to those with lower scores which other lenders might turn away.
  • High interest rates. OneMain Financial offers loans with APRs ranging from 16.05%-35.99%. If you have a good credit score, you can likely find lower rates elsewhere.
  • Not an entirely online process. It’s not unusual to go to a physical branch location to close a loan, but as technology advances, there are companies that offer a completely online experience. OneMain does provide remote closings in some areas without physical branches.
  • No payment deferral. One perk some lenders offer is the ability to skip or defer a payment once a year. OneMain Financial doesn’t offer such a perk.

Who’s the best fit for a OneMain Financial personal loan?

While you can use OneMain Financial personal loans for a number of different reasons, they cannot be used for tuition or to start a business. However, OneMain Financial is great for anyone with a lower credit score looking to consolidate debt or cover an unexpected expense.

As OneMain Financial interest rates are similar to a credit card, their personal loans are less than ideal to cover anything other than a necessary expense.

For example, a personal loan from OneMain Financial could be great if you have credit card debt spread over several cards. A personal loan from OneMain could help to simplify your finances by consolidating — rolling everything into one monthly payment and having a fixed date to have it paid off. A personal loan could also help you to improve your financial standing as revolving credit is viewed differently from installment loans when it comes to your credit report. Though to reap the full benefits, you still need to make sure you’re making on-time payments.

Additionally, personal loans from OneMain Financial can be used to cover unexpected expenses, like medical care or a car repair bill, as these expenses can sometimes be quite large and require payment quickly. The personal loans from OneMain with their quick turnaround time and $30,000 limit could fit the bill.

However, chances are if you’re working with OneMain, you have a lower credit score and while a personal loan could also be used to purchase a car or vacation, the high APR with OneMain means you’d be better off waiting until you improve your score and shop elsewhere.

Alternative personal loan options

LendingClub

Established in 2007 as a peer-to-peer lender, LendingClub offers personal loans up to $40,000 with APRs as low as 6.95%. Because of the higher loan amount and potential for a lower APR, it’s worth seeing the rates you qualify for with LendingClub, which you can check without having a hard pull on your credit.

APR

6.95%
To
35.89%

Credit Req.

600

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

1.00% - 6.00%

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingClub is a great tool for borrowers that can offer competitive interest rates and approvals for people with credit scores as low as 600.... Read More

LendingPoint

LendingPoint provides personal loans for fair credit customers. Similar to OneMain Financial, they offer a quick turnaround with the possibility of receiving funds in as little as one business day. LendingPoint’s rates and fees are again similar to those offered by OneMain, though their maximum loan amount is $25,000 with a term of 24 to 48 months. If you need money quickly, LendingPoint gives you the opportunity to check rates while allowing you to shop around for the best deal.

APR

9.99%
To
35.99%

Credit Req.

585

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 48

months

Origination Fee

0.00% - 6.00%

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingPoint is an online lender that targets borrowers with fair credit, and allows borrowing up to $25,000.... Read More

Peerform

Peerform is another peer-to-peer lender offering personal loans of $4,000 – $25,000 with rates that are capped at 29.99%. Peerform allows you to check your rate without impacting your score. That makes it worth it to shop around and see which lender, OneMain Financial or Peerform, will offer you the best rate.

Peerform
APR

5.99%
To
29.99%

Credit Req.

600

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

1.00% - 5.00%

APPLY NOW Secured

on Peerform’s secure website

Even with a credit score of 600, you still might be able to secure a loan through Peerform. ... Read More

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Liz Stapleton
Liz Stapleton |

Liz Stapleton is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Liz here

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Consumer Watchdog

The Truth About ‘Obama Student Loan Forgiveness’

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Source: iStock

The average 2016 college graduate carries $37,000 worth of student loan debt today according to an analysis of student loan debt by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Cappex.com. Kantrowitz tells MagnifyMoney he expects that number to rise for 2017 graduates.

It’s no wonder that those drowning in debt can get desperate. And scammers have come up with a clever way to dupe these borrowers into spending money on services that promise to erase their debt. One of the most popular student loan scams today involves companies that charge borrowers to sign up for the so-called “Obama Student Loan Forgiveness” program.

The only problem is that there is no such loan forgiveness program.

The truth about “Obama Student Loan Forgiveness”

So-called student “debt relief” companies use “Obama Student Loan Forgiveness” as a blanket term for the various flexible federal student loan repayment programs implemented over the last decade by the Bush and Obama administrations.

What they don’t tell unwitting consumers is that these programs, which include income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, among others, are free to borrowers and do not require paying for any special services in order to enroll.

Promising relief to indebted college graduates, these companies lead people to believe that enrolling in these programs requires special assistance — which they may offer for a sizable upfront fee and/or recurring monthly payments. Rather than getting the help they need, borrowers are duped into paying for something they could easily accomplish for free with a simple phone call to their student loan servicer.

While there are multiple ways you can get scammed by debt relief companies claiming to offer you “Obama Student Loan Forgiveness,” there are some red flags that can help you spot a scam.

6 ways to spot a student debt relief scam

It’s important to note that it’s not illegal for a company to charge a borrower to enroll them in a program that’s free to them. These companies are arguably taking some of the work out of getting enrolled, even if that “work” could easily be accomplished with a phone call to your student loan servicer.

Nonetheless, some debt relief firms take things a bit too far, and it’s important to be aware of scams out there. After all, student loan forgiveness scams are really only one part of a broad range of debt relief scams. Debt relief scams share many of the same qualities and employ similar tactics to mislead consumers into paying for their services.

Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  1. They ask for fees upfront. By law, debt relief services are not allowed to ask for payment until they have performed services for their customer. A legitimate debt relief service may ask for a fee upfront, but they will place that payment in an escrow account, and they will not officially receive the payment until they complete the work.
  2. They charge fees for free government services. This one is a bit tricky. So long as a company makes it clear that it is possible to gain access to a government debt relief program for free, it’s not illegal for them to charge consumers for their help in enrolling in those programs. However, the worst actors out there will keep that information to themselves, leading consumers to believe they need to pay a professional for access.
  3. They claim to be affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. The Department of Education, which manages the federal student loan system, does not partner with any debt relief services. Any company claiming to be associated with the Department of Education is a scam.
  4. They “guarantee” that your debt will be forgiven. Services will try to entice customers by promising total loan forgiveness or a reduction in their student loan payments. But monthly payments for borrowers enrolled in federal student loan repayment programs are established by law and cannot be negotiated. Also, the legitimate loan forgiveness programs out there usually require making payments for several years, and there is no company that can promise loan forgiveness unless you meet those payment requirements first.
  5. They advertise “pre-approval” for debt relief programs. There is no “pre-approval” for federal income-driven repayment or loan forgiveness programs. They are free for borrowers, and so long as your loans are in good standing, it’s a matter of the types of loans you have when you took them out that qualifies you for the different programs. To see if you qualify for a given program, contact your loan servicer directly.
  6. They offer to make your student loan payments for you. You should be the only person submitting payments to your loan servicer. The Department of Education has contracted these loan servicers to manage federal student loans, and loan payments should be made directly through their websites. Never send your payment to a debt relief firm, even if they promise to pay your loans for you. The exception here is if you’re working with a debt relief firm to settle a debt with a lump-sum payment. In that case, they are legally required to hold your cash in an FDIC-insured account until they officially settle the debt. And if their client decides they no longer want their services, they have to return the funds to them in full.

Do your due diligence before working with any debt relief service, by keeping an eye out for these red flags, as well as checking sites like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the company.

What to do if you’ve fallen for a student debt relief scam

If you’ve been scammed by a debt relief company, there are certain steps you need to take to prevent further financial damage. However, know that it is possible you may never get your money back.

Submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. Reporting scams, can not only help others from losing their money, but if an investigation by the CFPB or FTC results in suit and judgment, then the debt relief company may be required to issue refunds, cease business, and ensure borrowers do not miss out on important repayment benefits.

Track your credit reports with all three credit bureaus to ensure your personal information is not used fraudulently. You can get one free credit report each year at annualcreditreport.com or use these free services to monitor your report for suspicious activity. If you fear a debt relief scammer has your Social Security number and other financial information, you might want to consider a credit freeze. That will stop anyone from being able to open a new line of credit without you knowing.

Contact your loan servicing companies and have any power of attorney authorizations removed. Some companies will ask borrowers to give them power of attorney so they can negotiate directly with their loan servicers. You don’t want to leave any company with this privilege because they will be able to make decisions about your loans without you knowing.

Contact your bank or credit cards to stop payment to the debt relief company and see if they can work with you to try and get your money back. It is common for debt relief services to charge monthly recurring fees for their services.

Change your Federal Student Aid password. Every federal student loan borrower has a unique login for the https://studentloans.gov site, where you can track all of your federal loans. If you gave a company your FSA information, consider that information compromised and change your FSA password immediately.

9 Legitimate Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

While there is no such program called “Obama Student Loan Forgiveness,” there are several legitimate student loan repayment programs that offer student loan forgiveness.

These programs have a wide range of requirements and payment terms, some as short as five years, others as long as 25 years, and can be available based on the types of federal student loans you have as well as your chosen career.

In addition to loan forgiveness programs, there are programs that offer loan repayment assistance or loan discharge. How much can be discharged and the amount of repayment assistance varies greatly depending on the program.

9 examples of legitimate loan forgiveness programs, loan repayment assistance programs, and loan discharge programs

Program

Qualifications

How to apply

Max. loan amount forgiven

More info

Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Teachers must complete five consecutive years of teaching at a low-income (Title I) school.

Application

Up to $17,500 in federal loans can be forgiven after five years.
Forgiven debt is not considered taxable income.

Studentaid .gov

MagnifyMoney’s guide to teacher loan forgiveness covers state programs as well as federal.

Public Service
Loan
Forgiveness
(PSLF)

Must work in a qualifying public service job, be enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan, and make 120 on-time payments.

Reserved for students who graduated after Oct. 1, 2007.

Contact your loan servicer and submit a Public Service Loan Forgiveness Employment Certification Form each year.

Total remaining balance, plus interest

Studentaid.gov:
PSLF

Income-Driven
Repayment

Eligibility depends on the types of loans, when the loans were borrowed, and whether they were borrowed for undergraduate or graduate programs.

Contact your loan servicer. Submit an IDR Plan Request with proof of income to each of your loan servicers

Outstanding balance after reaching end of repayment term is forgiven.
Note: forgiven debt may be considered taxable income.

Contact your loan servicer directly.

Military Service

Upon enlistment you agree to a minimum term of service and enroll in the military branch’s loan repayment program.
Most of the programs offer to pay one-third of the eligible amount for each year of service.

Be sure to discuss your eligibility for loan repayment programs with your recruiter and request enrollment as soon as possible.

Varies by branch.

Army and Navy offer a maximum of $65,000.
The National Guard offers $50,000, and the Air Force offers
$10, 000.

The program only applies to federal loans. There are a few exceptions for greater amounts depending on occupation. For example, a dentist could earn up to $120000 of loan repayment assistance, and an Air Force Jag Officer could earn up to $65,000 toward student loan repayment.

Americorps

Upon completing a term of service in one of three approved Americorps programs, you are eligible for the Segal Americorps Education award that can be used to pay current student loans or for educational expenses later on.

Apply to Americorps and if accepted, complete 12 months of service.

Currently, the total maximum you would be able to receive is $11,630. But students can complete the program twice, earning double the amount of forgiveness.

This education award would be considered taxable income.

The award must be used within seven years of completion of your Americorps service.

National
Institute of
Health (NIH)
Loan
Repayment

US citizens with federal or certain private loans in good standing working in qualified research programs such as a doctor (M.D., Ph.D., and other doctoral degrees) whose education debt exceeds 20% of their annual income can apply for either extramural or intramural NIH Loan Repayment Programs.

Determine which of the five Loan Repayment Programs best applies to your situation and submit your application and any required supporting documentation during the open application period.

$35,000 a year, with award terms that are either two or three years depending on the program.

In 2017, applications for all of the programs opens September 1, 2017, and have various closing dates with the earliest being November 15, 2017.

Loan
Repayment
Assistance

States or schools may offer these programs to those working in public service or under served rural areas.

Check with each individual program. For those working in a health related field you can learn more about repayment assistance programs here.

Lawyers, you can visit the American Bar Association Website to find out what states offer loan repayment assistance.
Those with a law degree can learn more about repayment assistance offered by law schools here.

Depends on the program

-

Closed School Discharge

If a school closes while you are enrolled or closes within 120 days of your withdrawing, you could qualify for 100% discharge of your federal student loans.

Contact your loan servicer(s) to get the application for discharge.

100% of federal student loans

Make sure you keep your loans in good standing by continuing to make payments while you wait to hear back on your discharge application.

Disability Discharge

If you are totally and permanently disabled and can establish that under the specific requirements of the program you could have your federal student loans discharged.

Must submit proof of your disability.

There is no cap on the amount that will be discharged.
Discharged debt may be taxable.

-

What to do if you can’t afford your student loan payments

If you are struggling to afford your student loan payments, there are some actions you can take to ensure your loans remain in good standing and you avoid a default that could negatively impact your credit score.

Enroll in an income-driven repayment plan

If you are unable to afford your current payment, you can apply to change repayment plans. For example, if you are on a Standard Repayment Plan for your federal student loans, you could request to enroll in an income-driven repayment plan. If you are already on an IDR plan and your income has changed significantly, you can request to have your payment amount recalculated.

Ask for a deferment or forbearance

If you are going through a temporary financial hardship, you can ask your loan servicer to apply a deferment or forbearance, which would not require you to make payments during the deferment or forbearance. While both a deferment and forbearance offer you relief from making payments, with a forbearance you will be required to eventually pay back the interest that accrues during that time. Also, it’s important to note that while you are in deferment or forbearance, you aren’t making payments, which means you might be missing out on forgiveness programs like PSLF if you are working in public service or for a nonprofit.

Consider refinancing or consolidating your loans

Refinancing involves taking out a new loan from a private lender and using that loan to pay off your old loan. The pros of refinancing include a reduced interest rate and the ease of having just one payment. If you refinance a federal student loan, you will lose all of the benefits that federal student loans offer.

Alternatively, you could consolidate your federal loans. A Direct Consolidation Loan combines all your loans using the average weighted interest rate into one loan. So instead of dealing with multiple loan servicers and multiple loan payments each month, you only have one student loan payment to make each month. You can apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan at no cost through the government’s Federal Student Aid website.

Work with your loan servicer

If you have private loans, your lender may not offer as many repayment options as federal loans. Reach out and work with your lender anyway. They may offer a financial hardship program that would lower your payments. Your loan servicer would much rather work with you to ensure they get paid.

Consider bankruptcy if you can pass the “hardship test”

While it is highly unlikely you will be able to discharge your student loans in bankruptcy, it isn’t impossible. You must either show that your loans would impose an undue financial hardship that will not go away or that the loan was not a qualified student loan in that it did not fit the definition or was in an amount that exceeds the school’s cost of attendance. An example of where this argument has been successful would be a private bar loan, a loan taken out to cover the expenses of taking the bar exam.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Liz Stapleton
Liz Stapleton |

Liz Stapleton is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Liz here

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College Students and Recent Grads

Student Debt Confessions: How I Got Kicked Off My Income-Driven Repayment Plan

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Liz Stapleton wrote about her experience getting kicked off her income-driven repayment plan for MagnifyMoney. Overnight, her monthly student loan payment skyrocketed from $365 to nearly $2,000.

I graduated from college at the onset of the recession in 2008 and graduated from law school just in time for the recession to hit the legal market in 2011. By the time I finished with both my degrees I had $193,000 of federal student loan debt, which has since grown to over $250,000. Needless to say, I’ve never been financially able to make student loan repayments under the standard repayment plan.

Once my six-month student loan grace period ended in 2011, I immediately signed up for an Income-Driven Repayment Plan with each of my three loan servicers.

Every borrower enrolled in one of these plans has to renew their eligibility through their loan servicer every year. Since I have three servicers, that means at this point I have been through the renewal process 18 times. The first 17 recertifications went off without a hitch.

So I was stunned when I found out my 18th and most recent submission for recertification through one of my three loan servicers was denied. That was it — I was kicked out of the program. Suddenly, my monthly payments of $362 were going to balloon to nearly $2,000.

I got on the phone with the lender right away, determined to find out why I was booted from the program. In the end, I was able to successfully re-enroll.

Why my income-driven repayment renewal was denied

It turns out my status as a self-employed worker was to blame.

After I was laid off from my job as a solutions consultant at the end of 2016, I started a business as a freelance writer in 2017. One of the requirements to recertify your eligibility for income-driven repayment plans is to submit proof of income. When I was working full time, that was no problem. I just used records of my pay stubs to verify my income.

But now that I was self-employed, I didn’t have pay stubs. Early in 2017, when my deadline to recertify with one of my loan servicers was approaching, I called them and asked what documents I could use to verify my income.

I was told that all I needed was a self-certifying letter stating that I’d been laid off and was now self-employed as a freelance writer. I also needed to include my gross monthly income. I wrote the letter and stated what my approximate monthly income was thus far, and my submission for recertification on the Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan was approved, no problem.

But remember that I have three different loan servicers. So I had to go through the same process with the other two as well. Unfortunately, when I tried to use the same strategy to renew my certification with my second servicer, I was denied.

I was shocked and stressed out, to say the least.

Resubmitting my application

I called this loan servicer and asked why I had been denied. At first, the representative I spoke with told me there wasn’t sufficient documentation of income. When I asked why my self-certifying letter wasn’t enough, the representative on the phone explained that it usually was enough. I pressed her to find out what exactly was wrong with my letter that had resulted in a denial. It turns out, they didn’t like that I used the word “approximate” when stating my gross monthly income. They needed a firm number. Additionally, they wanted a work address.

I rewrote the letter to take out the word “approximately” and explained that as a self-employed freelance writer I worked from home and had no additional company address. I submitted my forms again and crossed my fingers.

In the meantime, my loan servicer agreed to put my loans into deferment for one month. That would ensure that I wouldn’t get hit with my new larger payment the following month.

Here’s what the application looks like to re-certify your enrollment in an income-driven repayment plan. Download a copy at https://studentaid.ed.gov.

The long wait for news

After I resubmitted my IDR Plan recertification application, I was told I would hear back within 10 days. It was nearly a month before I heard back from them in June. It was good news – my documents were approved, and I would be enrolled in my new IDR Plan starting in August.

But the celebration was short-lived.

Since I had only been granted a one-month deferment, which covered me for June, and my new IBR Plan wouldn’t kick in until August, that meant I would have a gap in July. And I’d have to pay my new, larger monthly payment. I couldn’t afford the payment of nearly $2,000 and to miss it would mean defaulting on my loans. Defaulting on federal loans could mean losing access to the income-driven repayment plans as well as forbearance and deferment options, not to mention it would wreak havoc on my credit.

Once again I was caught off guard and stressed out. And, once again, I called my loan servicer to find out why the new plan wasn’t being applied sooner. Apparently, the billing cycle had already passed for July.

To solve the problem, I requested another month of deferment for July, which I was granted.

Asking for a forbearance or deferment is never fun, but it is always better than defaulting on your loans and losing access to those options and flexible repayment plans.

What to do if your recertification is denied

  1. Be proactive. One of the biggest lessons I learned from this ordeal is that it pays to be proactive. Don’t count on the loan servicer sending the paperwork you need to fill out; you can find a recertification document here. If you are struggling with payments, you have to take action. Ask your loan servicer questions to find out what might work best for you, a new payment plan or a temporary forbearance or deferment. If your loan servicer is being stingy with answers, persist, do not hang up the phone until you have the answers you need.
  2. Don’t be shy about requesting deferment or forbearance. Loan servicers won’t necessarily anticipate that you may need a deferment or forbearance if your repayment plan is denied. So be sure to ask.
  3. Resubmit your application. It isn’t unusual to have your recertification denied for a number of reasons. For example, if you are a salaried employee, paid biweekly, and only submit one pay stub, you could be denied for not demonstrating an entire month’s worth of income. But remember, you don’t have to accept that denial as final; you can usually resubmit if something was wrong with your original submission.

The Bottom Line: Not all loan servicers are created equally

As I learned the hard way, some loans servicers are pickier about the language you use on your renewal forms than others.

“For those that are self-employed, some [servicers] will have specific requirements in the phrasing of the documents used to certify income,” says Columbus, Ohio-based financial advisor Natalie Bacon. “What works for one loan servicer may not work for another.”

The biggest lesson I learned was not to assume that just because one loan servicer accepted my documentation, the other loan servicer would as well. It’s always important to communicate with each of your student loan servicers.

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Liz Stapleton
Liz Stapleton |

Liz Stapleton is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Liz here

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