Don't know where to start, but maybe someone has been in this situation or I can help someone avoid it?
I went to an Ivy school and then grad school. Lovely. I then, for reasons that are personal, could not continue into my chosen field and went into non-academic life and made okay money, had a good job. Due to some of the reasons why I left my academic-bound life were medical and most of my discretionary income went to medical needs etc. That said, I was making payments on my loans as much as I could and filed for consolidation.
Fast forward, I met a man, he lived in a different country...I moved to this other English speaking country because I married the guy. All fine, I finally got a job here which paid nothing, NOTHING. My husband, however, makes a good income but I did not expect him to pay for my educational loans and he never asked me to pay for his taxes.
After two years in the UK, I was in default but not out of contact. We had to move and since my husband made the bulk of the money when he took a partnership that moved us 40 miles away, I left my job that wasn't paying much behind. I was offered a bright and shiny new option called LOAN REHABILITATION.
Loan Rehab sounded great. I spoke to my husband and he was fine with paying for my loans until I found a new job and he really wasn't bothered at all about paying them going forward. I was just used to doing for myself. Anyway, I sat on the phone with Sallie Mae and discussed it. 9 on time payments in ten months and all done via direct debit. Easy. Done. Now my loans were all up to date and my credit, for the first time, had no student loan late payments and missed payments weighing it down. I felt liberated.
Then, I got the info that Navient were taking over the repayment of the balance of my two consolidation loans (unsub/sub). It was a pretty bad option but I was taking it to be on track with what I now know, is NOTHING. First of all, Sallie Mae was able to direct debit payments, Navient is not able to do direct debits with any international banks. They process payments with visa debit or credit cards, but not with a non-American address...so, the ONLY way for me to make a payment is to phone the States and pay over the phone which is an extra fee of $20 plus the phone charges. I can also make an international online banking transfer which costs varying fees because I am charged a fee by my bank and a fee, I found out later, after four months of being shorted on how much was being credited versus how much, in dollars, I was paying, that their bank was charging me also for its fees. Of course, of course it was. So either way I CAN make a payment, it costs me about an extra $40. Fine.
In October 2015, I got a call from my brother back in California that my dad was unwell. My dad has Parkinson's and had a bad episode and surgery. I flew home. I forgot my payment for November, I wasn't thinking. In December, by the time I was back in my home, I made December's payment and emailed to say I would make up for the missed payment over December and January. No reply. (they reply if it suits them)
I continued to make payments, one day looked at my account and was $1200 past due. WHAT? My past due amount should have been about $350, and I'd paid it already. But they never listed it as such and just lumped it onto interest paid down. So, in the box above my account summary, it read I was three payments behind. Yet, here was a list of payments by date paid. All on time or early.
After complaining repeatedly, I got a random email saying don't make a payment. Then they were emailing me almost daily (this was AFTER I'd made the missing payment) which shows they can't afford to call internationally EITHER? I've noticed I have managed to come down to 1 missing payment. Again, that's all I ever missed and it's been paid so why it's sitting there is a mystery. And my past due amount went from $1200 to $949 to $600 and then back up. I only missed ONE payment for $350 and I paid it.
Finally, a guy who seems to know something says he'll look into it. That was last month. I email him again, he's still looking into it.
After all that I've taken apart my loan repayment as it is on their site. My dad, who has always been about "pay that loan" and who has never made a late payment in his life said, "this is set up to scam you and back you into a corner, I would tell them where to put their loans". And he's not wrong.
In 2013, our dog became unwell and it was found out he had developed diabetes and not long after, he became blind. I'm his caretaker, seeing eye human. I'm almost 49 years old. I can't foresee having another corporate job again and my husband, who is not American, doesn't mind helping me, but he won't help me be taken advantage of. I don't have my own income. End of.
I'm starting to think of Navient as a bit more of an obsessed collection agent. And they are explaining this as the fact they applied my December and January payments onto interest earned and past due amounts which increased interest, added late fees and in their eyes, made me three payments behind. It strong-armed me into paying them nearly $800 in one month.
Dealing with a company who won't phone you, won't do direct debit for your payments, won't take your bank card/ visa debit card etc because it's not American which forces you to pay extra in fees to phone them to make a payment. So the international loan holder is actually paying quite a bit more.
Finally, for a bit of humor... when I have phoned them, I used their "international customers" number, they didn't know, not once, I was an international caller, not at any of the six times I used that method for payments, and I knew this because every time they offered me all of the services that are not eligible to international loan holders! ::)
It sounds like you're in a tough spot. Navient is not the easiest to deal with, and I appreciate you sharing your story. It's rare to hear from people dealing with their loans internationally, so thank you for sharing.
For your situation, I'm sorry but I have to give you some tough love. Your payments ballooned because you missed that payment under rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is great, but you have to follow through on it. You're the one that missed it, just like you didn't pay your loans when you went to the UK. It's not like you just missed one payment. It sounds like you missed about 25 payments.
Moving forward, if you really want to take these loans seriously and get out of debt, you need to work with your husband together. There's no shame in that, because you're a partnership now.
Here's a guide I have for being married with student loan debt: https://thecollegeinvestor.com/13790/married-student-loan-debt-spouse-needs-know/