As you struggle to make that outlandish student loan payment this month, here is something for you to chew on: In August, Sallie Mae flew more than 100 employees on its sales team to Maui to celebrate them making more than $5 billion in sales.
NBC News reports that 1 in 5 adults in the United States owes a combined total of $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. This was a cause for celebration for Sallie Mae executives and their teams, who sold $5 billion worth of student loans to just 374,000 borrowers.
The employees stayed at the upscale Fairmont Hotel in Maui for a 5-day all-expenses-paid trip, but don’t despair; the company didn’t pay for their spouses and families to attend as well—the employees had to bear that cost for themselves.
“We said, ‘Hey, look, Maui is a pretty nice spot.’ And so if you wanted to stay a few days or want to bring family, that’s up to you,” Ray Quinlan, CEO of Sallie Mae, told NBC News.
Quinlan also claimed that the trip was not an incentive for his sales team, but rather “a sales get-together for all of our salespeople” that the company has been sponsoring since the company started in the 1970s.
Whew, what a relief.
According to NBC, the company was started to service federal student loans, but since its inception:
the lender’s trajectory has changed, now offering private loans. But in 2014, the company split into two: Sallie Mae Bank, which offers private loans, and Navient, a newly formed offshoot which services and collects loans, including those that Sallie Mae sold. Sallie Mae’s borrowers, however, have said the company doesn’t treat them nearly as well as it does its sales team.
NBC reports that student loan debt has “skyrocketed” in the last decade.
Additionally, black students are most severely impacted, being unable to repay their undergraduate student debt at five times the rate of their white counterparts.
Owing student debt can prevent people from doing things such as buying homes or starting small businesses. It can even have an impact on the debtor’s children being able to afford college.
So what exactly was Sallie Mae celebrating in Hawaii? The spoils of their riches, I guess.
NBC reports that in Sallie Mae’s eyes, the conference was a “recognition of the hard work” of the sales team. They sat beachside and “planned and strategized for the upcoming year, were awarded prizes, and soaked up the sun.”
“We do it every year,” Quinlan told NBC.
I bet y’all do.