Before anyone considers taking out a student loan, they should read this:
1987, I decided to enroll in a school for beauticians (Wilfred Academy, Newark, NJ.) Student aid said I would have to sign for two loans and a government grant. When the checks arrived at the school, all the applicants were locked in a banquet type room with a person standing in back of us to see that we signed the checks.
I thought this was very odd, but I signed believing I would have no trouble completing the course. I was wrong. After five weeks, I quit because some people kept coming to class drunk and disorderly.
The school refused to return the unused money back to the lending institutions. I went to a lawyer and he said it would cost me the same amount of money I borrowed for school to get things straightened out. I wrote the Attorney General, but the school lied about my hours.
I tried every avenue I could think of, but ended up on a dead end street. So, 1990, I took out a mortgage on my house, that I had paid for, to take care of the loans.
The mortgage company made out three checks. Two checks were to Higher Education (HEAF)and an escrow check to TRW Receivables (a collection agency for HEAF). Because of all I had been through, I made copies of the checks before I signed them and mailed them to HEAF's lawyer, Mr. Malcom P. Hammond.
It's a good thing I made those copies, because you won't believe what happened next!
A month after the checks were sent, I got a document saying one of the loans were paid. While I was waiting for the second document to come in, the mortgage company called and said somehow the escrow check got lost and they would have to issue another one.
I told them the two checks to HEAF were more than enough to cover the student loans, but the mortgage company said if there was an overpayment, I'd get the money back.That never happened.
For months, I didn't receive a statement that the second loan was paid off.
After the Dept.of Ed. received my escrow check, they made it into another bill and started charging me interest on it!I called them, I wrote them, I sent copies of the checks, and I was totally ignored.It wasn't until I contacted the Attorney General that I finally got a statement saying,in fact, I had paid the second loan off.
Did the Dept. return the overpaid money and my escrow check after that? Oh no! They still kept the overpaid money, and still kept my escrow check and have been billing me on it up to this day. They know what they did.
It's not like they don't know. Everytime I confront them with the proof, my name gets sent to another collection agency. A person from one agency told me I could take my checks and shove them. Another person from another agency told me the US Dept.of Ed. could charge me whatever they wanted to.
Shortly after all this started happening to me, I lost my job and eventually lost my house. You see, after I overpaid my bills and refused to send out anymore money to HEAF, they put false information on my credit report.This caused me to be turned down from some jobs, I couldn't get a banking or checking account, credit cards, or loans.
They even got the IRS involved and took my refund check, 1995. Last June, I tried to get a government grant to further my education. I showed the student aid officer proof the loans were paid off, but she said I would have to contact the US Dept.of Ed. because my name came up on the computer saying I still owed them money.
Of course, I was sent to another collection agency! I called the US District Attorney's office several times, but no one bothered to answer my messages. So I filed a complaint in small claims against the US Secretary of Education as well as the Dept.of Ed.
The judge said the case was being contested and I would have to meet with a representative for the Dept.of Ed. My opponent turns out to be from the very office I tried to contact before I filed the complaint. She is Assistant US Attorney, Monica M. Simmons.
The judge set a date for all parties concerned to meet at the courhouse. Simmons wanted to talk to me ahead of time. Like a fool, I went to her office with my proof. Of couse, she wasn't there. Her assistant said she was sick, but Simmons was busy filing for a dismissal.
The day I was to meet with Simmons at the courthouse was a disaster. My name wasn't on the bulletin board, so I didn't know what courtroom to go to. I went to the clerk's office and when she looked at the computer, my name had been transferred to federal court.
My sister and I rushed over to the federal building. Nobody seemed to know what I was talking about. So I called Simmons on my sister's cellphone while at the federal building. She said she was surpised my name wasn't on the bulletin board, but not to worry because she'd make sure I'd get my money back plus interest in two weeks.
About five weeks or so later, I get a letter in the mail talking about the statute of limitations. I called Simmons and told her that was not going to work, because I'm still being harrassed for a ficticious bill.
I only met Simmons once. That's because she wanted me to sign a paper, a Notice of Settings. I started not to sign it, but I was told I'd get the chance to see a judge.
I did see a judge. I sent all my proof to him ahead of time.He never even read it. His advice to me was to get a lawyer or go to the law library. Over the years, I've tried many times to get a lawyer.
That time I actually saw Simmons, she tried to be very intimidating. I couldn't get in a word. But the most disturbing part of our meeting was when she kept waving that paid bill in front of my face saying I had absolutely no proof the bill was paid for.
The US Dept. of Education owes me over $1700. But if I had my way, I would sue for at least 2.5 million dollars in punitive damages for all that they've put me through these last 14 years and counting.
So my advice to anyone who is considering taking out a student loan is, if you can avoid it,do! If you can't avoid it, at least make sure you are in control of the loan money at all times.
Always keep your records! These people didn't think I kept mine. It may take me a while, but maybe I'll get lucky and finally find someone who can help me.