Thursday, November 15, 2007

The very definition of stress

I just got a phone call from an extremely aggressive collection agent named Michelle, who berated me for defaulting on my $55,000 student loan, which apparently went into repayment in May 2006. Then she accused me of avoiding them (they had an address that hasn't been valid since July 2006 and a few hours ago was the first I heard of them looking for me).

I politely explained that was impossible: I've been registered as a full-time student since before that time and am not required to pay on my student loan while I have that status. I also explained that I'd been required to submit a confirmation of enrollment form (with current contact info) to both federal and provincial student loans offices in the fall of 2006 and again last month, for this academic year.

When I asked how it was that neither of my provincial loans had gone into repayment, but the federal ones had, she said it wasn't her problem. She said there were full-time students in her office as we spoke that had failed to update their addresses on time, and it was her job to collect the money we all owed. She said that the government wouldn't help me and the university wouldn't help me and that refusing to pay that $55,000 debt was not advisable.

I asked if there was anything I could do to clear up this obvious mistake. She said "No!" I insisted she provide me options. She said to fax every piece of paper I had to confirm my registration and address. I asked who I could contact at Student Loans. She gave me a toll-free number and snidely said "Good luck!" I politely thanked her and hung up. Then I felt like I was going to explode. Or implode. Or something equally devastating and terribly messy.

After writing it all down I feel better, but no more optimistic about how this is actually going to get fixed. Student loans and I have never had a loving relationship, but I think I may have to hire a lawyer this time. Luckily, like all students, I have copious amounts of free time and an endless bankroll, so this should be super easy. Sigh.

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