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By The Numbers

Sallie Mae just wanted to celebrate its birthday. Instead, it infuriated Twitter

Kim Bui May 13, 2013
By The Numbers

Sallie Mae just wanted to celebrate its birthday. Instead, it infuriated Twitter

Kim Bui May 13, 2013

The social backlash on Sallie Mae’s birthday

Storified by · Mon, May 13 2013 12:31:05

It was the kind of birthday Sallie Mae wanted to celebrate. They turned 40, and sent out a few tweets to let everyone know how they had grown.
Today we’re 40 years old!Sallie Mae
When Sallie Mae opened 1973, we had 7 employees. Today we employ 7,000 people nationwide.Sallie Mae
It all started off well. Employees and government officials patted Sallie Mae on the back for their work helping students get degrees.
Today my employer @SallieMae will celebrate 40 years of serving students and families in their pursuit of higher education. #netDENikki Lavoie
Congrats to @SallieMae on 40 yrs of helping students achieve their dreams.#eduDE #netDE ow.ly/i/26oJiGov. Jack Markell
And then it went terrible terribly wrong. Sallie Mae began to trend on Twitter and not in the good kind of way. Plug “sallie mae” into a couple of free sentiment analysis tools and you’ll find the negative is far outweighing the positive today.
Folks are not too happy with @SallieMae today… buff.ly/15GqIn1 pic.twitter.com/RJNy0Zcz6pP. Kim Bui
As of noon, this tweet had been re-tweeted 313 times in a few hours. 
RT @BosNaud: AND ENSLAVE MILLIONS RT @SallieMae: When Sallie Mae opened 1973, we had 7 employees. Today we employ 7,000 people nationwide.JJ
The tweets the follow range from funny, to sad, to angry. They come from students paying off loans and others, many of them young. Huffington Post blames a statistic from a recent report: “the percentage of tuition costs paid for through borrowed funds is higher among black students and their parents than that of their white counterparts. This may explain why the reaction amongst Twitter users of color was so swift and visceral.”
…And how many billions of $ richer? RT @SallieMae: Today we’re 40 years old!Rachel Greyhame
So @SallieMae is 40 years old…. So are my loans! LolDestined Legacy
You know the economy’s bad when J.Cole got a deal by Jay-Z and still can’t pay back his loans to Sallie Mae.Alex Butcher
To give you an example of sallie Mae, I’m being charged a 12% interest rate on one of my loans with a 720+ credit scoreBlueprint
Sallie Mae has all of twitter salty today it seems.Neiman Marcus Garvey
Sallie Mae has to be the only twitter account with mentions consistently worse than Chris Breezy’s.Robert Reece
If all of this gives you heartburn about taking out a few student loans, listen to the advice given to Marketplace Money recently by author Kio Stark who interviewed scores of people  about whether their college education was worth it for her new book, “Don’t Go Back to School.”

“I think people always worry about, ‘will I be able to get a job if I learn outside of school, if I don’t have a degree.’ And all the stories that I collected show that people have every opportunity to find work without having a degree,” says Stark. “So I think five years from now, given the economic situation we’re in, employers are going to have to respect people who have learned outside of school and their credentials are their experience.”

A few more tips for student loan debt and paying for college from Marketplace and Marketplace Money:

College-bound? How to pay for higher education

The trouble with refinancing a student loan

How parents should handle their child’s student loans

Paying for school when you’re already in debt

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