THE BLOG
08/07/2014 11:44 am ET Updated Oct 07, 2014

I'm Having Problems With My VA Student Loan Benefits, ECMC, and my GI Bill

Huffington Post Reader Question

Dear Steve,

I have a 30 year old school loan I have been fighting for almost that entire time. I enrolled in a trade school and produced my DD214 and expected all those fees would come from the 5 years I served in the military under the G.I. Bill.

I come to find out years later in the mail that I was responsible for these loans because the school never submitted the paperwork to the VA. By the time I found out and tried to straighten it out I missed the 10yr, (starting from the day you get discharged), mark by 28 days to submit these forms.

I requested a waiver for the 28 days with no luck. Now they say I am responsible for what in the beginning was around 6000 for tuition and now is up to almost 40thou. I have repeatedly tried to find someone to get this corrected to no avail. The IRS was taking my tax returns, stopped for several years and in the last year started taking my return again. I was threatened at one point with garnishment but befor e that even started the company I worked for went under so it never went that far.

I have been working freelance jobs but am about to get a full time regular job and I am sure it will just be a matter of time before ECMC try's a garnishment on me there. I have been fighting this for decades as I feel this was one of the reasons I joined the military and now I am getting screwed by the school for not filing right, the government for not seeing this was not my fault and these ECMC guys who I told all this too and only told me to send them money.

There has to be someone out there that can straighten this out, but as of yet I haven't found them. I have disputed this debt at every turn and will go to my grave before I pay it. But I would like to get it resolved before then :)

Do you know any contact info for anyone I can talk to and get this straightened out? Do I need to sue somebody? Are there any options?

Harrison

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Dear Harrison,

Wow, that totally sucks.

My guess after reading your question is these were federal student loans. It's the tax return intercept statement that makes me believe that.

There are three things I would suggest you do.

First, in an effort to attempt to clear this up I would contact the U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Loan Ombudsman office. As they say they are, "dedicated to helping resolve disputes related to Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, Guaranteed Student Loans, and Perkins Loans. The Ombudsman Group is a neutral, informal, and confidential resource to help resolve disputes about your federal student loans." You can contact them here.

Second, at the same time I don't think it hurts to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about the problems you faced with the school and the loan. The CFPB takes this issues seriously and will look into your problem. You can file a complaint here. They might be able to jumpstart a resolution.

If those two steps fail then you should consider a Direct Consolidation Loan to roll these loans into one new loan where you can establish and income based repayment. The big advantage of consolidating is it will end any default or garnishment. I recently wrote about this solution, you can read that article here.

While this will stop the negative things that are happening it will not address the massive amount of interest you have been charged in the meantime.

While this is all in the works you might want to adjust your withholding so you don't get a big tax refund at the end of the year. No big refund, no big intercept.

Steve

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