Yesterday was eventful. I have a student who is doing an Independent Study with me. She showed up for her appointment with me angry and out of control. It turns out her financial aid is non-existent. The IRS redirected her mother's tax refund to repay her student loan. Her mother is very angry and in turn, my student is very angry.
I'm an instructor, not financial aid. I've been trained to advise a student to go to the financial aid office and straighten these things out. When the financial aid irregularities for this student first surfaced 5 months ago, that's exactly what I did. It didn't help. In fact, the financial aid advisor was less than helpful, she was rude.
This student received notice some 6 moths ago that her student loan was in default, which made no sense to me as she was a full-time student currently enrolled and attending school. I took her to financial aid and left. The student came back to class and said that the financial aid advisor said there was nothing she could do about it. My student didn't understand why she was in default and our employee didn't explain her situation to her.
I reported the lack of assistance to my Dean. There was back and forth between Academics and Financial Aid, but the net result said to me was, "This isn't your concern, butt out". The student dropped out a few weeks later.
She reinstated as a student a few months ago and is now within 9 credits of getting her A.S. degree. Today her mother received notice her Tax refund check has been seized by the Department of Education to repay her daughter's student loan. You can only imagine how angry Mom is and what she said to her daughter.
I butted out, but the student didn't understand the consequences of not trying to resolve her student loan problem 6 months ago.
We can talk about student responsibilities in the comment thread all we want. Yes, the student and her mother signed the Promisory Note. Yes, the student signed the Enrollment Agreement. Yes, the student understood 6 months ago that the lender notified her that her school loan was in default. What she didn't understand was what would happen if they couldn't or didn't start repaying that loan. They didn't understand they had a "Parent Plus" loan which doesn't confer an automatic hold when a student is an enrolled, full-time student. They didn't understand how to go about getting the loan back on hold while the student continued to attend school full-time. They didn't see seizure of the mother's tax refund coming.
I did, and was told to "Butt out".
This is corporate, for-profit education at its worst.
I'm ticked, but as a professional; I have to keep a cool demeanor while interacting with this student.
What happened is that our financial aid advisor saw there was no way she could resolve the situation and get more money into our school with this student, so she stopped "wasting her time" talking to her. I have a problem with the ethics of this situation.
There was no "butting out" yesterday. I sat down and explained everything I knew about the papers she had in front of her. I explained the only way she was going to get that loan out of default was to make 9 consecutive payments on the remaining balance. I explained that the tax refund could only be returned to her if she could convince the loan processing service to "recall the loan" from the Department of Education's Collection Agency. I was frank about the chances of her success in getting the loan recalled (about zip). I apologized for doing what my Dean instructed me to do 6 months ago. I sat with her on the phone and spoke with the Department of Education, the loan processing service company and the collection agency. I helped her set up the payments.
I love my job, but when these situations come up; I feel sick.
I used to love this job, but last year corporate purchased another school. Since then I've seen a continued decline in enrollments and a sharp increase in ethical issues. The pressure to pay for this purchase has led to bad admissions policies. Anyone not willing to do what it takes to make the numbers is fired. We've had 4 Executive Directors, 4 Deans, 6 Directors of Admissions, 2 Placement Directors and 2 Financial Aid Directors in the 2 years since I've come here. I also have noticed a serious fudging of the numbers and think it's time to leave.
I realize this school is a business, but at some point we have to take inventory of what we are doing.
I sent out my resume.
I start my new job next week.
Anyone know a good Qui tam case lawyer in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale? I'm only half joking.