Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Department of Education, Get Your Act Together!
It has been a while since I wrote here about my on-going college experience. I am in my last semester and May 12, 2012 will be a momentous day for me, but that's not what I'm writing about now.
The Department of Education has made changes to how I pay one of my school loans and it is causing trouble. For weeks I thought the frustration was just mine, but now I know it is affecting many and it needs to stop.
The issue: The Department of Education (DOE) made a business decision and handed over their management of the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program to an outside private company and they were not prepared. No official notice was sent from the website I had been using for almost a decade about the change, instead the new companies contacted me by email instructing me to now make my payments to them. Fishy!
The site I was automatically transferred to from the former official site http://www.dl.ed.gov/ was the Direct Loan Servicing Center, a private company. To log into their system I had to first create a new user name and password. Call me surprised when I get in and see the most basic of websites. I was sure I had just been had. Then I tried to access my payment history...they don't have it. WTF! How am I supposed to trust them if they didn't even get the archived data from the first company. At this point I was convinced I had been caught by a phishing scheme.
Luckily, I've found official confirmation that this was the right site, but I'm not happy and I am not alone. Note that there are 719 comments under that article and the majority are negative.
The other company that contacted me was Fedloan Servicing. They did the right thing and mailed me information that showed a connection to the Dept. of Ed and shows awareness of my past payments. They are also listed by the National Student Loan Data System as the guaranty for two of my loans and their website looks legit.
Department of Education, get it together, ok? You are dealing with the finances of people who came to you for help. Show due respect.
Update: Currently the Direct Loan Servicing Center (myedaccount) won't allow me to access my 1098-E form so I can complete my 2011 taxes. All of the PDF files are damaged. I tried to call them yesterday to get the info over the phone and their phone system was on the blitz, first it was cutting in and out and then it dropped all my subsequent calls. My email to them received a general response saying someone would contact me. I'll keep you updated on when that happens.