FOX 66 News at Ten
A 40-year-old mother from Davison, Mich., is starting off the New Year with renewed hope for her future.
Georgette Abdella is the winner of the Sallie Mae "It Pays to Repay" Sweepstakes. More than 7,000 customers entered the contest to win up to $25,000 to pay off their Sallie Mae-serviced student loans.
Abdella was awarded $20,000 to pay off her student loans in full.
Sallie Mae created the contest to reward customers who made their education loan payments a priority. To be eligible, customers needed to be in good standing with a six-month history of the scheduled on-time loan payments.
"This contest celebrated all of our customers who successfully make on-time student loan payments," said Patricia Nash Christel, vice president, Sallie Mae. "Ms. Abdella made a plan to successfully pay down her loans and worked hard every month to make payments. The payoff came sooner than she expected."
For Abdella, the prize is especially rewarding. She attended Mott Community College and later transferred to the nursing program at the University of Michigan-Flint. After Abdella withdrew from the program, she struggled to make payments on her loans.
"I knew a degree would help me find a good-paying job that would make it easier to support my son," Abdella said. "But, it was tough to be a single mom. I had to put my education goal on the back burner. It was a difficult decision, but I had to make it."
Abdella continued to work in the healthcare field while raising her son. She picked up a second job as a bartender to keep up with her loan payments. In addition, she enrolled in an automatic payment withdrawal program and received a reduced interest rate.
"I had an excellent experience with the people at Sallie Mae," she said. "I couldn't have asked for better help. They got me back on track."
Now thanks to the contest prize, Abdella will be student loan debt free and plans to register for classes again in the year ahead.
"I'm so thankful to Sallie Mae," she said. "I just got married and I have a wonderful son. They're my greatest accomplishment. They support my goal to become a RN."
Abdella's son, 19, is currently attending college. Her advice to him and other students: "Make sure you finish. It's important to earn your degree. And, if you get off track, call your lender. They are willing to work with you."
The public is invited to join the conversation on how to save, plan and pay for college at Facebook.com/SallieMae <https://www.facebook.com/sallliemae#!/SallieMae/info> .
Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Monday, January 14 2013, 08:55 AM EST
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