Sallie Mae wants student to pay loan a second time

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By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

PHOENIX – Brenda Delgado wants to do something not many of her relatives have done: go to college.

"Only like two or three people in my family had went to college," Brenda says. She enrolled at Estrella Mountain Community College and started taking classes.

It didn't take her long to realize she was going to need help paying the tuition so Brenda applied to Sallie Mae for what she thought was a grant, money she wouldn't have to repay.

But instead, the money Sallie Mae gave Brenda was actually a loan. "I didn't want loans. My sister and my mom had explained to me that you have to pay them back and it's not just the amount that they give you. It's interest too."

Not wanting a loan hanging over her head, Brenda says she immediately repaid Sallie Mae the entire amount by writing them a check for just over $1,700.

Since Brenda had returned all of the money that Sallie Mae had loaned her, she thought everything was done.

"I sent it to them. After that, I just forgot about it until I started getting letters from them charging me."

As it turns out, Sallie Mae sent Brenda statements asking for $50 a month to start paying off her $1,700 school loan.

But what about that check she wrote to pay off the loan in full? According to the check, it was endorsed by Sallie Mae and deposited so there is no dispute they received it.

On top of that, the check had cleared Brenda's bank account and the money had been removed.

Still, Sallie Mae claims there must be a mistake because they say they never received her check.

"I don't know where to go from here. I don't know. Do I keep contacting them and you know, harassing them until they get tired of me calling them."

3 On Your Side got involved and asked Sallie Mae to review Brenda's account.

In less than a day there was good news. Sallie Mae realized they actually did receive Brenda's check and did not properly credit her account. 

In an email to 3 On Your Side, a Sallie Mae representative wrote, "We apologize that our service fell below our high standards and we appreciate the opportunity to assist Ms. Delgado."

They went on to say, "We have taken immediate steps to correct this situation and restore her credit record as if the loan was never made."

Sallie Mae says Brenda failed to write her account number on the check so although they received the money, it was never properly credited to her account like it should have been.

It's a good reminder for consumers to always include your account number, or at least the last four digits of the account number in the "memo" section of your check to make sure the amount is credited properly.