The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) is a non-profit company who says that they're trying to help make college dreams a reality for Vermonters of all ages.
Founded in 1965, VSAC serviced federal student loans until August 2016, when they decided to discontinue their servicing contract with the federal government. At that point, all federal loans were transferred to Nelnet.
VSAC now focuses on their community outreach programs and their VSAC Advantage Student Loans for Vermont students. They help students look for and apply for financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and loans. They even offer their own 529 plan for saving for college.
The VSAC Advantage loan is a private loan with competitive interest rates, which are often lower than the federal PLUS loan interest rate. The loan program also comes with a Loan Coach, so every borrower entering repayment will get free in-depth and personalized debt-counseling.
Top Problems With VSAC Student Loans
Overall, borrowers who have had VSAC as their servicer haven’t been too unhappy — or at least not unhappy enough to flood the internet with complaints.
There was a relatively low volume of complaints publicly filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Better Business Bureau. But the ones that are out there might hint at more general problems with VSAC loan servicing practices. Below we cover the top problems that borrowers have reported in regards to their VSAC student loans.
If you're not quite sure how to fix your VSAC student loan problems, consider hiring a CFA to help you with your student loans. We recommend The Student Loan Planner to help you put together a solid financial plan for your student loan debt. Check out The Student Loan Planner here.
1. Inconsistent Policies
When you’re dealing with a company, especially one that handles large amounts of money, you depend on them to be consistent and follow their own policies. When they don’t do that, it can be hard to trust them to handle your loans correctly.
One such policy is about deferment while the borrower is in school. For their private loans, VSAC gives the option to defer until after graduation, start making payments immediately, or make interest-only payments while in school. Instead, one borrower had to fill out deferment forms every 3 months on just one of their loans.
All others were in deferment and needed no maintenance until repayment would begin after graduation. This borrower worried that they would miss a payment if they forgot to fill out the paperwork or it didn’t get processed in a timely manner.
Another borrower experienced inconsistencies when changing their autopay account. For the first autopay change, VSAC put their account in forbearance until the next payment was due. The borrower did not approve the forbearance and pointed out that it would add more time to their loan repayment. The second time the borrowed tried to make a changed to autopay, VSAC used an old checking account, resulting in overdraft fees.
2. Uncooperative Billing Processes
Many student loan borrowers want to get rid of their loans as fast as possible — no one wants their loans looming overhead. Targeting specific loans is a great way to attack your student loans and pay off your balance quicker. To do this, you make extra payments and request that the servicer apply them to the loan of your choice.
But sometimes, a servicer does not apply them as requested. Though their website welcomes special instructions when sending in payments, one borrower was told that the VSAC policy is to apply extra payments toward the loan with the lowest interest. Though VSAC responded with belief that there was a misunderstanding, it’s alarming that the borrower could not work out an acceptable payment strategy with VSAC.
Another borrower had worked out an arrangement to pay their loans weekly instead of monthly and to put the extra payments toward the principal of the highest interest loan. After several months of this, the borrower was informed that they could no longer follow that payment schedule because of the “administrative burden” it placed on VSAC.
The VSAC rep also told the borrower that they must call in every month to get the extra payments applied as requested. Frustrated, the borrower complained that “by not being able to have weekly payments applied the way I have been, I believe they are preventing me from paying my loans faster.”
3. Misapplication Of Payments
When you make a payment, you generally expect your balance to decrease at a predictable rate. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. After making monthly payments of $400–$500 for years, one borrower noticed that their balance was barely decreasing.
Suspecting that their loan was not being handled as promised, they reached out to VSAC. Requests for a copy of the promissory note were ignored or denied. Instead, the borrower kept getting billing statements that didn’t seem right. Exasperated, the borrower confessed, “A mortgage is cheaper than a student loan.”
Another borrower with a history of on-time monthly payments complained that their balance was increasing. Without the ability to pay more each month, their pleas for help were met with hostility: VSAC refused to help and instead threatened to garnish wages if the borrower stopped paying.
Another borrower was making payments to rehabilitate a defaulted loan. They got payments in when they could, sometimes early. One early payment wasn’t counted for the intended month; instead, it went toward the previous month. VSAC considered that a missed payment and deemed the rehab a failure, forcing the borrower back into collections to start the process over.
How To Contact VSAC Customer Service
You can reach out to VSAC customer service through the following:
Phone number: 800-642-3177
Hours of operation: 8-4:30 p.m Mon-Fri (ET)
General mailing address:
PO Box 999
Winooski, VT 05404
Address for sending payments:
PO Box 7501
Bennington, VT 05201-7501
Email/online contact form: firstname.lastname@example.org
What Else Can You Do If You Have Problems With Your VSAC Student Loans?
First, if your payments are too high, look into consolidating or enrolling in one of the many income-driven repayment plans. You’ll pay your loans longer, and you’ll pay more in the end, but the monthly payments may fit your budget better. In an IDR, your payments will be capped at a percentage of your discretionary income, and any balance remaining after 20–25 years will be forgiven.
Second, if VSAC customer service is refusing to address your issues, you can file complaints with various government agencies including:
If VSAC is your servicer, you likely have private loans. The only way to lower private loan payments or transfer them to a different servicer is through refinancing.
Refinancing will get you a new loan with different terms and interest rate. Consider the pros and cons carefully before going through with a refinance. And do your homework to choose the best refi company to work with.
If you're not quite sure how to fix your VSAC problem, consider hiring a CFA to help you with your student loans. We recommend The Student Loan Planner to help you put together a solid financial plan for your student loan debt. Check out The Student Loan Planner here.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.