Public service loan forgiveness: am I being pranked?

I’m one of those hundreds of thousands of suckers who has faith that the government will do what it has promised and forgive my loans. As it stands now, I’m on track to have my $70K in loans forgiven in about 3.5 years. I know the statistics about people getting rejected, and I keep holding on to faith, mostly because I think if somebody has promised something, they will do it, especially if they have promised it publicly and in writing and you have met every nit-picky criterion.

To make sure that I have met these criteria, I recertify my employment each year, so that I have a record of the government itself saying “you have already made 80 out of 120 qualifying payments.”

Given that the rule is you have to make 120 qualifying payments, according to their standards, and they are willing to check for me every once in awhile to note my progress, I think this is my best chance at getting approved.

Last year, when I recertified, my HR person didn’t fill out the form correctly. There was a lot of back and forth – my HR person at one point promised me she had taken care of it, but when I called to triple check, she hadn’t, and I had to start from scratch. I was quite pissy with my HR person.

This year, the same thing happened again, although my HR person has changed.

It is strange, but not outside the realm of possibility, that two separate people who work in HR as their real jobs would both forget to enter in how many hours per week I work on a fairly straightforward form.

Also strange is that I can’t fix such a problem myself, I have to call HR and nag them to call FedLoan Services.

Also strange that when I sent a follow-up email to HR they said they had taken care of it but when I called FedLoan Services they had no record of the call – same as last year.

Even stranger that, just like last year, the operator was able to find call notes, buried deep, that just “hadn’t been recorded.” HR did call, they did fix the problem. But FedLoan Servicing just pretended, just like last year, that they hadn’t.

I’m supposed to call again in two weeks to check again. You better believe it’s on my calendar.

I’ve been holding onto the assumption that if I just recertify diligently, my loans will be forgiven, as promised. I think the government has little choice but to honor the agreement at that point. I’m in the same job with the same loans as I have been for the past 6.5 years – there shouldn’t be a problem with recertification. The government has told me, several times, that my job counts, my payment plan counts, and that my payments have counted – not having these details figured out, according to the reports, is the main reason why people are getting rejected.

Keep on keeping on, it should be a slam dunk.

Here’s what I didn’t count on, though, and I guess I will have a better idea of this next year as I get even closer to the finish line: I have a sneaking suspicion that FedLoan Servicing is screwing this up on purpose. Maybe it’s as simple as being super detail-oriented about the forms being perfect and simultaneously incredibly loosey-goosey about following through on their end. It is hard to wrap my mind around an organization that so very, very carefully looks over every line on the form, and then “forgets” to submit a report of a phone call, which is the most important, easiest job of an operator. They’re supposedly giving out a ton of money, so I guess it’s their prerogative if they want to be super picky about forms and hire any bum off the street to answer phones. On the other hand, maybe it’s a bit more manipulative than that.

Maybe people are being rejected not just because they haven’t met the criteria or recertified but also because FedLoan Servicing is actively throwing up road blocks.

I’m going to continue to be tenacious, and “oops we forgot to enter this information in” can only take them so far. I am hyper-aware of what needs to be done and I’m not afraid of making dozens of phone calls. How many people, though, let these things go? Assume that if HR said “it’s taken care of,” it is?

As I recertify, I can’t help but notice that every time point where I could have – probably should have – assumed that everybody was acting in good faith and that my recertification had gone through, it hadn’t. So many “you didn’t do it perfectly” and “oops we made massive mistakes,” again and again.

It is useful to keep this process in mind: as I get closer to the goal, I should start a recertification process every month, as each recertification process has been taking several months to go through. I shouldn’t just recertify at 108 payments and then apply at 120 – I should recertify af 108, 112, 115, 118, and 119. If I do that, even if they reject a form at the end, I’ll only be 1 or 2 payments away.

No wonder people are getting rejected in such high numbers. These rejections are not a bug, they’re a feature.

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