Seriously, Navient? You want my feedback?

I just got the delightful message above from Navient, a company that took over my undergraduate student loans from SallieMae a couple of years ago.

They want my feedback!

In this short, stupid email, they have the nerve to ask me:

Would you be willing to share your success story with other people who are currently repaying their student loans? Your story could be featured on our website and help inspire others on the journey to financial success.

My “success story”? So I can “help inspire others on the journey to financial success”?

Do you mean to ask me how many ways I can tell someone to run away at full speed and never look back?

In clicking through to their questionnaire (which they helpfully frame with a non-compete disclosure and an agreement to allow them to publish whatever I submit to them in marketing materials, such as their website— without paying me a dime for it, naturally), I found the following questions:

  1. First, tell us about your college experience and what you’re doing now that you’ve achieved your education.
  2. How has your education helped you meet your goals? What other social, economic or personal benefits has your education provided?
  3. In managing your student loan payments, what approach or strategy is working well for you? How do you stay motivated? What tips would you like to share with others, especially those just entering their loan repayment?

Seriously, Navient? Has anyone responded positively to this? Are people just climbing all over themselves to try and help you ensnare new, fresh idiots to your scheme?

My college experience was expensive and didn’t bring me the return on investment I was promised, and whenever I have deigned to express the fact that I feel trapped by student loans I have been told that it was “my choice” to get them in the first place. Somehow going to an elite school was supposed to be my highway to an elite career that would afford me a life that I could not only be proud of but seriously enjoy. The only people this promise really seems to be working for in my friend group are people who had good connections in the first place and/or went for STEM degrees. The people who are really making good on their lives (monetarily, at least) are the ones who didn’t take out student loans, or who took out relatively small ones.

I’ve been through half a dozen stints of unemployment that have led me to believe I’m unemployable, and I’ve lived with the shame that I chose to get a liberal arts degree that is apparently worthless. I’ve come to believe that everything that has befallen me in my life is due to the fact that I didn’t work hard enough to be something I wasn’t. Following your dreams is stupid unless they’re dreams in engineering or medicine or a field that will pay you for your student loans. It was my choice to enjoy languages and writing. I should have made better connections or applied to more jobs or gotten a better GPA or… something else I didn’t do. I have not ever been able to accept that sometimes, things just happen that you have no control over. Like the company you’re working at is sold and the new group already has a marketing department. Or the company you’re working for has decided to back out of its contract. Or the company you’re signing on to won’t pay you what the Bureau of Labor Statistics says is the mean income for your region and your job description because you’re so desperate for a job you’ll just take whatever they hand you without thinking to negotiate. Or the economy is just bad, and no amount of hard work on your part was going to change that fact.

I’ve had to stifle my creative drive because it wasn’t monetizable. I’d like to think I have an entrepreneurial spirit, but I can’t think past next month’s paycheck because I have to send a chunk of it in to Navient or Mohela, even if I die. Don’t get me wrong — I write for money. But it’s not the only thing I do, because my writing doesn’t pay enough. My student loans are the one thing that force me into employment drudgery because even if I’m not working, I have to pay them, and I can’t sell them. I hate sitting at a desk all day. But I’m too rational to give it up and do something I enjoy full-time, because somebody’s gotta’ pay the piper. And I need health insurance.

I did a calculation recently and it ends up that I will be paying my student loans until I am 55 years old. At which point I will be unable to retire, because I will have been paying $500/month for two pieces of paper that brought me nothing except two lines on my resume that people don’t really care about.

I can resell my house. I can resell my car. I use both of them every day. I can’t cash in on my degrees, ever.

“Managing my student loan payments”? You mean, just setting up auto pay and hoping I have enough in my account every month to meet it? That’s been my management plan. I could be like my friend who lies to the IRS every year and says he didn’t make enough money to make repayment even possible, but I don’t want to go to jail. “Staying motivated” in paying you off? Really?

Nothing makes me quite as despondent as thinking about my student loan payments. I have friends who work jobs that pay as much as mine do, but they didn’t have student loans, so they have a lot more money. They’re doing a lot better off in terms of retirement planning and savings. I don’t ever outspend my income. I’m great at budgeting. But I’m still trapped by student loan payments, no matter what I do.

Really, Navient, you know exactly how much I still owe you. And you want to ask me, a writer, to use my skills — for which I get paid in a day job that it took me years to get into — for FREE so you can capitalize off of them?

Are you going to pay me in experience? Which is what every job I was offered after college told me my time was worth? “Experience”?

Okay, yes, college was a great experience. I met people I would never be exposed to. I went to school for two years with the daughter of the current President of the United States. I assure you she was not going to be at the state school in the city where I grew up. I was somehow convinced that not going to that state school would mean I would be afforded similar opportunities to the daughter of the President of the United States. I was naive. I admit it. And you get paid every month for my 18–year-old naivete. Congrats.

I can’t move or shake because I am shackled to a student loan payment that you, Navient, will never, ever let go of. You’ve even reduced my monthly payment recently because I was getting so close to paying it off! You want to keep me as long as you possibly can. When I log in to try and increase my monthly payment, there aren’t any easy options to do so. You need that 3.12% increase month over month so, so badly. In any other financial arena, we would call this predatory. But we don’t. We allow you to write us emails asking us how you can convince another generation of kids to fall into your trap.

No, I’m not going to write you a glowing review. You are everything that is bad about my life. If you want to capitalize more off my hard work, you’re going to have to pay ME for it, and not the other way around.

Here’s some feedback, Navient: go die in a fire.

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