Thursday, December 19, 2013

Where's the Money?: My Personal Gripe with the U.S. Department of Education

Today I must vent! I'm pretty pissed with the U.S. Department of Education at the moment. Why? I'm pissed because they have no record of my $5309.00 loan repayment that I made last January, I had the blessing to be able to repay my undergraduate and graduate loans thanks to my severance from my former employee. While I wasn't have to be leaving the organization, it was a definite plus that I could be college debt free as a result of it.

I paid off all my loans in January of 2013. I made the payments online through Chase Bank and have the transaction statements to prove it. Thank goodness I do because a couple of months ago the U.S Department of Education sent me a letter saying I owed interest on a loan of $5,200.00. That caught me off guard because I had paid it with the accrued interest back in January. I do my due diligence and call them to find out what is going on and to my dismay they have no record of my payment. I don't understand how this is possible when a check was sent from my online banking account and there's a record from Chase that the payment was received. How does that amount of money get lost?

I call and open up an investigation with the Department of Education and they ask me to send them documents from my bank that I made the payment. I send them the forms over a month ago and no word from them about the investigation, instead I get a bill with a total principal interest of $432.73 due. Since I took this semester off, the customer service rep explained that my loan would have to go into forbearance, while the department was investigating. Going into forbearance means I'm still accruing interest on the loan, the loan that I paid in full! Can you say hot mess?

Since I received a statement with a principal interest of $423.73 I decide see what's the status of the investigation and give the department a call. Long story short there is no change since I last called.

The customer service rep tells me that the information I faxed was not enough. Although I faxed a bill confirmation from Chase that states the U.S. Department of Education received the payment, they need an AC ID or trace number to track the payment and that wasn't on the document. As the rep is explaining this, I feel like I'm about to explode. I want to scream but of course I keep my composure. I was then told I need to get this number from my bank and send it to them via fax to move my investigation forward. What I find really frustrating about this process is that I wouldn't have found out this information if I didn't call. Glass half-full, at least I know my next steps.

Before I get off the phone the service rep asked my if I'm satisfied with my call. I know she's doing her job, but it felt like a slap in the face considering I paid my loan in full. Unfortunately for me the department has no record of it. No, I'm am not at all satisfied with my call! I'm now wondering who else this may be happening to!

I went to a Chase branch and explained my problem. The Chase representative helped me file an online bill payment inquiry for proof of payment. I should have it in 24 to 48 hours. I will then need to fax that back to the Department of Education and hope the tracking information they need is there. I'm not sure what I will do if it's not.

One thing I am certain of  is in my next follow-up I will request a supervisor, but for now I have to accept although I paid the U.S. Department of  Education they have no record of it. I'm grateful for the help I received from Chase and while  I'm not at all happy about the situation venting does help.