Friday, November 18, 2016

HESAA: Stop Bribing Kids To Lie To Me!


As I logged in to pay my monthly pound of flesh to HESAA I noticed something different...a three star Google rating? What?! Has HESAA decided to enact "self reform" and lower interest rates for struggling borrowers? Has HESAA offered standard bankruptcy protections? Has HESAA decided to "do the right thing" and disband itself on moral grounds? Of course not! They are bribing their new suckers - err young students who don't know any better yet - into posting love letters to HESAA.

That's right. Your warden in hell is using the few extra dollars they have lying around after fleecing you to spend on brand new flash drives for students they will suck dry for the next few decades, all because the borrowers in repayment rated them 1 star on Google for their god-awful practices. 

How do I know they are bribing people? It's right there on each and every five star post, the following message states from "the owner": "Thank you for reviewing our customer service. In appreciation of the time you took to write this review and sending us a screenshot of it we have sent you a flashdrive to assist your studies."

If by customer you mean "unsuspecting rube" or by service you mean "we pretty much can take all your money and not help you in any way whatsoever" then this would be a tad more accurate. Moreover, this is clearly a ploy to polish their image online at our expense. (Annie Waldman over at ProPublica wrote about this here: https://www.propublica.org/article/new-jersey-student-loan-agency-getting-good-reviews-giving-free-stuff)

I have a modest proposal, get over to Google and look at each one of those glowing posts and flag that review. Google will ask for your email, then they will ask for the violation type, which in this case is clearly "This post contains a conflict of interest." Nobody is hurt in the end, all the students had to do was take a screen shot of their positive review right? 

Let me now address the good young people who are accepting TAG grants or (please don't for your own good) NJClass loans from HESAA and then rating them five stars on Google:

Ok, I get it, it's a free flash drive. I was a poor student once and I gleefully slurped cheap noodles and hit every event that offered free pizza, hung out in dining halls ect. But sometimes in life you have to ask yourself "is what I'm about to do potentially harmful to others?" I know, I know, that sounds a bit much but hear me out. Those hundreds of thousands out there who have consistently rated HESAA one star, might actually have a point. You may never have had to pay a student loan back, but if you borrow from these people you will pay... and pay... and pay. Trust me, I'm one of the many, many people who owes so much after borrowing so little. So please do the right thing now. After you get your flash drive (I'm not made at you for the free swag) head back to the post you wrote and delete it. If anybody asks you why, just tell them there's a good person just like you out there who may actually avoid a lot of suffering because they were properly warned before they signed away their financial soul. 



Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ray of Hope: A Class Action Lawsuit Against HESAA?

Since 2014 a few brave souls have toiled in the bowels of HESAA HELL trying to echo the chorus of howling voices suffering in silence. While there has not been enough on the ground or legal action to back up our collective tales of woe that may soon be coming to an end - at least on the legal front. It all starts with our continued commitment to getting the word out about this important issue in NJ state politics and in the national political landscape. 

You, dear reader, should contact Mr. Larry Sarlo if you want to take part in the first ever class action lawsuit against HESAA. As he related it to me, this particular suit (there could be more to follow) rests on the idea that HESAA provided you what's called "false service" kind of like false advertising. According to Sarlo: "Anyone who has been served a lawsuit either through HESAA or any private student loan servicer should contact me via email," which is LSARLO@comcast.net.

He also said that the lawsuit is still in it's beginning stages and the lawyers he is working with are still setting up parameters for who will qualify for the suit. When you email him, prode some details about the suit you have been served with from HESAA and be sure to include your contact information. Other details to provide the lawyer are the circumstances under which you took the loan and the information you were provided about the loan, if any. Sarlo said if a borrower feels "their loan was provded in a way that it was never affordable in the first place or they thought they were dealing with state government rather than a private student loan" service, they should get in touch with him. I suspect there are many, many of you out there so send that email now to LSARLO@comcast.net.

This is a start to a long battle that we must take on ourselves because clearly the politicians like Sweeney and Christie are not on our side. The more people who think they qualify and get in touch with him the better. The significance of this, provided there are enough people in the suit, is that HESAA may at some time in the future be made publicly accountable for their horrible practices that stifle the productivity, suck the life energy and deplete the bank accounts of a generation. Like all movements, ours is starting slow but with time it will pick up the necessary steam to change these predatory student loan practices once and for all.

Never give up the fight and email this guy at your earliest convenience!


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Over My Dead Body! If This Evil Letter Isn't Everything Wrong With Student Loans Then Nothing Is

There is so much rotten in the State of New Jersey. Yet few things stink to high heaven as badly as this letter sent to grieving parents regarding their deceased son's NJClass student loans. The student has died, his education and the prosperous future that loan was supposed to have purchased is tragically gone forever. But even the Grim Reaper won't stop HESAA's demons from relentlessly pursuing his parents to pay back the loan. Saddest of all, due to unconscionable legal protections for predatory student loan lenders and a lack of public outcry, there's nothing Mom and Dad can do about it. To their great credit they took the step to share this letter with the rest of us slaving under the HESAA student loan yoke. 

In this grossly hypocritical letter, devilish HESAA boss Teresa B. Gervasio attempts to offer the parents "condolences on your loss" - before she pile-drives them head first into the financial pavement. What follows is simply a reiteration of what has been quietly on the books for a long time. Even your untimely death will not prevent the relentless maw of HESAA Hell from devouring your family's peace of mind and whatever is left of their financial security after laying you in the ground. 

Gervasio's macabre letter states the facts in a monotone legalese, "In accordance with the terms and conditions of the loan note, there is no discharge of an obligation when a student is deceased, unless (emphasis added) the student is the sole borrower of the loan." That sentence exemplifies everything that is wrong with HESAA because they always require a co-signer, usually a parent. In short, this loan sharking "Authority" just like any Mafioso, will strong-arm your family to pay off nefarious student loan debts. All this for an education that is free in other countries, like K-12 (for the time being) still is here.

The letter goes on to contradict it's previous sentence by saying "A surviving party," like, for example, these poor distraught parents, are "only released from repaying the loans on an exceptional basis based on financial need." I'm sure when burying their baby the first thing they thought was "I hope our modest earnings are exceptionally low enough not to have to pay off any student loans!" HESAA in it's cold calculation reopens their wound, telling them: "After careful consideration of the information you provided, the Authority has determined that your request does not meet the threshold for loan forgiveness. Monthly bill statements will continue to be sent to you."

The living, flesh and blood person who typed this letter had to know that "the Authority" regards students, borrowers and cosigners, living or dead, simply as a means for fattening the coffers of the State of New Jersey. No matter how "legal" under the law, throughout any age, the action described in this letter was understood as a crime, whose offense is rank and smells to heaven. Be warned, dear reader, of the level of Hell we are dealing with in this so-called "Authority." In time, they will answer to a higher Authority, one who suffers no thieves or suited criminals - and who will inspire an organized army of borrowers coming to reclaim a free universal education for all.










Friday, April 17, 2015

Yelp and Google Users Bash HESAA and Their Loan Scam

I know that there is some hope for the future when I type HESAA into Google and find lot's of negative reviews on social media. I mean, it was bound to happen right? Saddle Millennial's with future crushing debt, add the internet and you have the kind of frustration and anger that is boiling up out of the depths of the Lake of Fire known as HESAA.

 http://www.yelp.com/biz/hesaa-mercerville

https://www.google.com/search?q=hesaa+yelp&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=hesaa+&lrd=0x89c15f55cfd423cd:0x7768fae03b29643,1

 I really liked this most recent POSITIVE review of HESAA on Yelp:


"I don't know what everyone is talking about. This place is great and their high interest rates are phenomenal. " - The Devil




Sadly a few random posts, some good stories  people venting their anger online (including on my blog) are not going to fix this demonic "Authority". Our next step is to get organized!  Stop back for next month's installment and I hope to have good news for you about our first ever HESAA HELL meetup! 

Interested in doing some advanced planning and organizing? Hit me up at hesaahell@gmail.com.

-Mark Hesaa

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Here is Something You Can Do Right Now To Change HESAA


Sign the petition for debt relief for HESAA/NJCLASS borrowers in default!



     Below you will find the text of a petition which I encourage everyone who visits this blog to sign. Written by a friend to people experiencing the depths of HESAA HELL, Deborah C. Gumpper has taken the fight to HESAA and come up with a specific demand that defaulted borrowers should be allowed access to rehabilitation loans on their way to financial health. As it is, HESAA keeps defaulted borrowers in default into perpetuity. Why not? They are a for profit company and borrowers in default have to sign over all their assets to them to make enormous punitive monthly payments. As Carney says in the petition, "I guess the real truth is that HESAA wants you default on your loans, they make more money that way."
 
     So far this egregious corporate behavior isn't against the law but it really should be -- so please sign now!

The Petition:

ATTN: Gabrielle Charette (HESAA boss)
DEMAND NJCLASS  OFFER REHABILITATION LOANS TO DEFAULTED BORROWERS: Amend N.J.A.C. 9A:10-6.18 and all other controlling statutes in which HESAA NJCLASS operates under, to grant rehabilitation loans to borrowers who have defaulted on their NJCLASS loans.



     HESAA's role as guarantor of roughly $1.6 billion in student loans and state aid to students, has completely misinformed unsuspecting borrowers that they are a profit making entity hawking high interest, subsidized loans, loans impossible to repay. NJCLASS loans is neither a federal loan nor private loan---they  magically fall in between the two.  NJCLASS fails to send consistent billing statements and ignores borrowers billing inquiries/disputes, allowing delinquency to add up so they can easily default.  A borrower’s whose loan has defaulted has no where to go; they can either negotiate with the collection attorney, who adds a collection fee ranging between 18% and 30%; they can file a Chpt. 13 Bankruptcy and stay the collection action for 5 years; or they can spend exorbitant amounts of money trying to litigate the matter in civil court only to lose.  The loan will FOREVER remain in a defaulted status until it is paid in full; which means a borrower will be well into their late 50’s by the time they pay off their NJCLASS loan. 

     N.J.A.C. 9A:10-6.18 specifically states “(c) An NJCLASS borrower may request the rehabilitation of the borrower’s defaulted NJCLASS Loan Program OR NJCLASS Consolidation Loan held by the Authority. The borrower shall make one voluntary full payment each month for 12 consecutive months to be eligible to have the defaulted loans rehabilitated.” Under section (d) it further states,   “the maximum period for a rehabilitated NJCLASS Loan Program loan or NJCLASS Consolidation Loan shall be the same as that of the [NJCLASS] loan prior to default.  A borrower who wishes to rehabilitate a loan in which a judgment has been entered must sign a new promissory note. The maximum repayment period of the new promissory note shall be the same as that of the NJCLASS Loan Program loan or NJCLASS Consolidation Loan prior to the default

     However, despite this plain language, HESAA claims they cannot rehabilitate NJCLASS loans as they are  "not authorized by either statute, or the bond indentures that fund NJCLASS loans at this time. The regulations allow for an NJCLASS rehabilitation program in the event that statute and market conditions change to allow for the issuance of bonds to finance rehabilitation."  Yet, I have found no such language requiring  a new bond issuance for rehabilitation of defaulted NJCLASS loans.  
 Yet, as above-stated, if a borrower rehabilitates their defaulted NJCLASS loans, the maximum repayment period stays the same as the original payment period.  Thus, why would a new bond need to be issued if the borrower is paying the same amount over the same time period in accordance with the original bond that funded the loan?  This makes little to no sense.  There can be no loss to the investor, nor should it raise the interest rate on the bonds. And, if the loan were to remain in a default status, unpaid, there would be a loss to the investor.  Consequently, I cannot comprehend the rationale HESAA retains when it allows loans to remain in a defaulted status.   

     I guess the real truth is that HESAA wants you default on your loans, they make more money that way.  And, the only issue HESAA worries about is their “investors.” What about the borrowers who signed on the dotted line when they were just 17 years old. This company is no more than a legal, loan sharking outfit run under the Seal of the State of New Jersey.  They need to come down from the high cloud they been floating on and adhere to the rules and regulations just like any other private loan lender. 
With your help, we can change this.  If we sit idly by, many young borrowers will face financial impotence and will not be able to move on with their lives or contribute to the economy in any meaningful way.  I am not asking for a handout; I am not asking for the loan to be forgiven; I am asking that HESAA NJCLASS give borrowers a chance in life by doing what is right.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What Are Our Demands? I'm Glad You Asked!



     Over the years I have become convinced that based on the mammoth profits this state agency (that supposedly serves the students of New Jersey) has raked in, there must be enough people who have borrowed from HESAA/NJClass to fill a stadium. That means there are far more of us then there are "bondholders" who made the "investment" in bonds that eventually became student loans with absolutely zero protections for student borrowers (i.e. you.) More on that in later posts, but suffice to say that if all of us or even half of us were *organized* into a single movement against HESAA there would have to be changes made that would actually help us out of this debt hole the state is profiting from, instead of the business as usual that keeps us down here for decades.
     Now is the time to start taking our own lives and futures back from such power brokers, the cynical  rich profiting off the backs of poor students -- yeah who make up the lion share of NJClass borrowers. Don't think for a minute that stereotype of the shiftless youth cashing in on "easy money" has even one iota of truth. No f'ing way, these are hard times and if anything this was a form of "stimulus" that ultimately injected money into the economy and while the bankers and money lenders lined their pockets with our futures. We need to unite to change all that.
     I am pleased that I've heard from so many people about their loans, but I want you to do more than tell me your story, I want your feedback and suggestions and ultimately your commitment to yourself and the rest of us that you will do your part to end this corrupt state of affairs. To this end I present to you a list of things I think we all agree need to change at HESAA. Email me at hesaahell@gmail.com if you have any comments or suggestions.

Minimum Customer Service Demands


  • Real entry interviews with a financial aid representative (not online) for all NJClass borrowers that fully explain the terms of the loans and the promissory notes they are about to sign.  Nearly every borrower was not given even basic information about their loan, aside from legalese on some online document.

  • Accountability for HESAA staff giving out wrong information and/or not communicating all options to borrowers concerning deferment and/or forbearance.  

  •  A real-time complaint system that will result in something actually happening and leniency on borrowers who made financial decisions without knowing there was hardship deferment as a result of negligence of a HESAA rep.

  •  Full training for HESAA staff concerning phone etiquette and respect for the individuals that are exploited by student debt for some bondholders’ profit.  This especially concerns the collections department, but should be for all levels of the organization as there are some folks high up who really don’t take borrowers needs into consideration.  The “tough shit you borrowed this” attitude is another way of saying this.

  • An end to harassing and bullying collections tactics.

 Minimum Financial Rule Change Demands


  • Income-based repayment for NJClass loans is a primary demand, at the very least people need to be able to make payments that are within their income range and without further penalty to the borrower.

  • (re)Introduction of subsidized loans so that loans don’t accrue interest while in school, prior to earning a degree that will in theory pay for the loan.  The lack of subsidized loans makes borrowers pay much more than they ever received.

  • Loan forgiveness after a certain length of time, like federal loans that have been faithfully paid for 20 years.

  • Consolidation of loans under $30,000.  Who came up with this rule and why?  Either way it works to confuse the borrower and accrue more interest for HESAA.

  •  Billing periods of at least 30 days that give the borrower a more realistic window to pay without risking being sent to collections for late payment.

  • Discharge of all debt if a borrower dies, i.e. they can’t come after your family if the student has died.  It is currently a rule they can legally put a family member in collections for not paying these loans.

 

Long Term Goals of the Movement

  • Reinstatement of financial aid grants and programs that help students pay for college.

  • We need a statewide cap on all tuition.  New Jersey has some of the highest tuition in the country but according to the Star Ledger is also one of three states whose poverty rates have increased while others have improved slightly.

  • Bankruptcy rules need to change to include discharge of NJClass loans.  If you can do it for credit cards you should be able to for student loans, we need that and other protections written into the law. 
  • Last but not least: Fully funded public universities and colleges and a complete abolition and forgiveness of all student loans.  I’m not saying it’s happening tomorrow, I’m just saying we all would like to see this happen and it's worth all our efforts to work towards this noble goal. 
Thanks for reading, once again hit me up at hesaahell@gmail.com with your thoughts, I'm out.



-Mark

Monday, October 27, 2014

The HESAA/NJClass Catch 22

 

Hi, Mark.  Love your site.  I have my own, strange story to tell:
I took out roughly $38,000 for 4 years through HESAA prior to graduating in 2008.  I was keeping up on the payments, and then in 2009, I went through a separation and subsequent divorce.  During this time, I had moved out of the house, and had no real permanent address (mostly sleeping on couches and staying with my parents) for about 9 months.  During this time, my (now) ex-wife would just throw out my mail, which included the bills from HESAA.  I figured it was an annoyance, but not a problem.  I could just call and check my account, right?
Wrong.  By the time I had found out about a delinquency on my FEDERAL loan, I made a call to HESAA to see if I was delinquent.  I was, and they said I could enroll in a program to get my account back on track and amended as if I hadn't missed a payment.  Turns out, they were only talking about the Federal-guaranteed loan, because when I was supposed to get a tax refund from NJ a few months later, THAT'S when I started getting notices from the Law Office of Russel Goldman that I owed money and had to pay immediately.
Fortunately, I was able to get another local attorney, Veitengruber Law, to bargain on my behalf.  Instead of my normal $98/mo payment, I went to $250/mo to $400/mo and now have to pay $500/mo.  Also, after 3 years of paying this arrangement, I'm being forced to apply for loans to pay off the balance that I know I'll get rejected for JUST so I can show that I'm trying to get them their money.  Every month, I have to show a new rejection and get another mark against my already low credit score.  $13,000 left to go, and I'm still looking at a 2-year repayment period.
It's very Catch-22. I get rejected for loans because of an outstanding delinquency, which is what I need the loan to repay.