Culinary school grad needs help with student loan mix-up

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PHOENIX -- A Valley woman says she's having a problem with her student loans so she contacted 3 On Your Side for some help.

If you know anything about student loans, you've probably heard of Sallie Mae. It's a company that provides loans that are federally guaranteed.

Cooking is a passion for Winter Patterson.

"I love to bake," she said. "It's what I do. My friends call me the Cookie Lady."

So Patterson enrolled in culinary school.

"It was almost $30,000 for nine months," she said.

To help cover the costs, Patterson got student loans through Sallie Mae. But after getting her degree, Patterson was unable to land a job, so she asked if repaying her loans could be deferred.

"They told me I can do that for a $50 processing fee, which is no problem, but they also wanted two consecutive months worth of payments," Patterson said.

So she wrote out three checks -- the $50 processing fee and two checks for $132 each.

In all, Patterson mailed in more than $300 to defer her loans, well, at least she thought she had deferred them.

"I saw that they cashed the checks, but nothing ever happened," she said. "They didn't forebear the loan."

Not only did they not defer Patterson's loan, she says her checks were cashed but Sallie Mae can't seem to find the money she sent in.

"I'm out $314.26 and it's just gone," Patterson said. "I don't know if they took it and partied with it or what."

Patterson contacted 3 On Your Side and we got in touch with Sallie Mae.

A representative tells us there was a processing error, which caused Patterson's problems.

In a written statement they say: "I'm pleased that, with 3TV's help, we were able to address Ms. Patterson's concerns and get her the assistance she needed."

Which means not only will Patterson's school loans now be deferred, but they are actually returning her $300 as a goodwill gesture.

"I'm so happy, I'm so glad you guys came to my rescue," she said.