By Debbie Westmoreland Baker

In 1996, I borrowed $34,000 to become a public school teacher in Oklahoma. When the newly established income-based repayment plans and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) were offered in 2007, I inquired about the program and was told that I simply needed to make my 120 payments until October, 2017 when the first applicants would be allowed to apply for forgiveness. I had a federal, consolidated loan and every year I filed my Income Based Repayment forms as instructed.

Over the years I mentioned to them many times that I would be applying for PSLF after making the required 10 years of payments but it was not until July of 2017, just before my 118th payment, that I was told that my loan type didn’t qualify, and I was forced to start my payments all over. This caused me to lose $33,642 in payments! I almost paid the entire principal balance; however, Navient got to keep ALL but $34.24 of the money as profit. I was forced to take a new loan from the Federal Department Of Education for over $76,000 to pay for their dishonesty! Navient was paid over $76,000 by the Federal Dept of Education who then sent me the bill forcing me to take a new loan in that amount.

I can’t believe this has happened and no one seems to care or be able to help. My complaint to the CFPB fell on deaf ears, my senator (Lankford) has gotten nowhere, and the ombudsman did nothing.

At 56 years old I am starting all over and ever fearful of the possibility that PSLF will end; leaving me still paying at 87 years old. That $34,000 loan has generated $109,000 in interest already and I’ve been given credit for only $34.24 toward what I borrowed.I am so sick of this whole situation. It is unfair and should be illegal to treat people like this. I am trying to PAY my loans, not skip out. It’s ridiculous that this particular servicer does whatever they can to keep us in debt.