Let me start by apologizing for the profane title. We try to keep things family-friendly here but I truly couldn’t think of a sufficiently cathartic alternative title this time without dropping at least one F-bomb.
Long-time readers of law:/dev/null know that Big Guv’mint and I aren’t exactly BFFs. My love and support for education notwithstanding, I seem to be a magnet for every other buffoon making a living off the taxpayers’ dimes.
There was the whole conducting-a-levy-after-it-was-released debacle with the IRS during 1L year. The NC DMV conceding they improperly revoked my license the following summer. My Post Office Box getting carpet-bombed by duplicate deferment notices a couple weeks after that.
In each of those cases, though, an apologist for Big Guv’mint could at least make a non-frivolous argument that I bore at least some responsibility for other’s failures. I could have paid my taxes as they were due instead of trying to get back into college, could have called the NC DMV instead of assuming they updated my address when they sent my new license to it, and could have remembered to take off my suicide bomber bling in the airport.
This isn’t one of those times.
Let’s begin at the beginning: today did not start off well. My car wouldn’t start despite a fresh battery installed just last week (driving car maintenance costs during 3L year to the $2K mark) so I once again headed to the repair shop. The repair guys still didn’t know for sure what was wrong, but ~$515 worth of repairs later they assured me everything would work this time.
So now being flat broke and not knowing how April’s rent is going to get paid, I decided to bite the bullet and call Sallie Mae to apply for one of their bar prep study loans. I give the agent my information, have him submit the preliminary app… and get told I can’t be approved for a loan. Which was mighty odd when I’ve been busting my butt to get my credit into the “as good as you can get without having a mortgage” zone, on top of me just disclosing my entire financial life to the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners at the beginning of January. If something was wrong, I should have known it.
Panicked now that I have absolutely no clue how I’m going to cover rent for April — or May or June or July or August — I log onto the Equifax website to check my credit report.
And see this.
That reads “150 days past due”.
As of February 2012.
On a student loan issued in August 2011.
Now those of you who are good at math might notice there’s a 6-month gap between August to February. Roughly 180 days give or take. As few as 155 if you’re going from August 31st to February 1st. Meaning whatever the hell happened with this thing, I’ve supposedly been “delinquent” since the day it was issued. No in-school deferment. Not even a grace period. Nothing.
At this point I briefly stop being concerned about the Sallie Mae app and start being terrified about my bar application itself. The NCBLE likes getting everything about your life and I had just told them in January I was current on everything. Now I’m listed as 5 months late. A pretty big omission that can’t be good for the whole “character and fitness” thing.
Luckily I’m ever-so-slightly OCD when it comes to legal and financial documents, so I’ve got a copy of every single thing I sent to the State Bar. I pull it out, flip to one of the appendices — and sure enough, even the Federal Direct Loan website had me listed as being current on everything
It’s a bit hard to see because this is a copy-of-a-copy, but you can clearly make out “Next Due Date: 07/14/2013”, “Pay This Amount: $0.00”, and the timestamp when it was printed out — 01/03/2012, when I would have been 120 days late according to the Department of Education’s report to the credit bureau.
Staring at physical evidence that something was/is amiss, I transition from being worried to being furious. I call the DOE’s 800-number and get to spend the next 30 minutes of my life talking with one of their agents.
He first tells me I owe ~$300ish dollars on March 14th (next week). He then tells me I’m on the verge of defaulting because I’m 150 days late and they report things to the credit bureaus at 90 days. Trying to contain my rage I politely reiterate that I’m still in school, don’t graduate until May, and am entitled by law to an in-school deferment.
Then I get put on hold
About 5 minutes later he gets back on the line, tells me he’s going to flag my account as being in forbearance so it doesn’t become even further past due, and will “submit some paperwork” to correct the deferment issue.
And then adds “There might be a little smudge on your credit report. If that becomes an issue, call back and we’ll try to fix it.”
(2) “Call back”??
I got off the phone before I said something I’d regret. Then filed a credit report dispute with Equifax and took the dog out so I could decompress a bit.
Since Big Guv’mint’s got sovereign immunity — and I don’t have a property interest in a prospective loan, or other damages to bring me under the Tort Claims Act — there’s not much I can do in terms of legal recourse. And at this point, thanks to the DOE, I now have an oncoming financial train wreck bearing down on me that has to take priority.
But damn this is ridiculous. Completely, totally, inexplicably ridiculous.
This wasn’t some loan issued before they nationalized the student loan industry, converting something from my private lender to my public one and something getting lost en route. It wasn’t the first public loan issued to me, where maybe someone somewhere at some point might have been unsure of how the process worked. No: it’s the last loan of at least 13 of them issued under the Direct Loan program.
And the best they can tell me is “If us screwing up becomes an issue for you and you can’t pay your bills as a result, call back to wait 30 minutes and then we’ll try to correct our failures.”
I pray I can stay healthy for awhile, because with my track record God only knows what’s going to happen when these clowns take over my healthcare system…
- The full-body scanner showed I had nothing else on me except for the chain around my neck — why do you need to follow up with groping my genitals? [↩]