t is amazing what can happen in a week or so. Last week I discussed my latest student loan update. In that update I noted that I was still trying to obtain public service loan forgiveness and had been unsuccessful in my attempts to at the TEPSLF opportunity (Temporary Expanded PSLF).
Two days later, I was out for a walk listening to a personal finance podcast as I am apt to do when I am walking or working out. I decided to check my balance on my Personal Capital account. I just wanted to see if any of the expenses I had put on my accounts had been categorized.
When I looked at my account I noticed my net worth was much higher. Considering the market has been in correction mode for the last 2 months and I didn’t have any influx of cash I immediately scrolled to my student loan balance.
It said ZERO!!!!
You can imagine my excitement. At first I didn’t want to believe it. I thought there must be something wrong. This can’t be. They rejected my application.
I finished my walk (longest 45 minutes in recent memory), checked my computer and the balance said ZERO!
I wasn’t dreaming. I showed Mrs. ROB and she did a double-take.
Again, not wanting to believe it I decided to call my loan servicer, Fed Loan Servicing, and get some information. And after getting another customer service representative they confirmed that I had been granted public service loan forgiveness under the TEPSLF opportunity.
I was so excited I don’t think I could see straight.
Then I realized two things. First, my goal to be debt free by 45 had come true. Second, even though my euphoria was there I did realize that the money I had been paying on my student loans would now be directed to Mrs. ROB who is also on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, but has a bit longer than I do.
So it wasn’t like we were saving a ton of money in our monthly cash flow. But I was still euphoric.
I was going to post this on Facebook and write a blog post right away but I wanted to get some official documentation before I did anything.
Today, I got a letter from U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (who’s office was awesome by the way and he had sponsored the TEPSLF program) confirming that my student loans were forgiven. I might even get a refund for past payments because technically I had made my final payment in February.
What Does This Mean?
I think it means a couple of things. For those of you who are in the PSLF program. Keep fighting. Keep documenting. Keep calling. I haven’t had the horror stories that some people have had with the student loan servicers. The people I talked to were GREAT. Great customer service, super helpful. They were really great people. In fact, I believe it is the conversation I had on October 12th with a gentleman at Fed Loan servicing that put me over the top. He wrote an e-mail, on my behalf, contacting the PSLF folks that I met the requirements. He did me a solid that he didn’t have to do and I wish I could give him a raise. He was AWESOME.
Second, if you are fighting this I would encourage you to use other resources. Contact your Senators and House of Representatives members. I did and they went to bat for me. I will always be grateful to Senator Whitehouse’s office. His campaign slogan was right “This Whitehouse works for us.” The people in his office were fabulous.
Third, learn all you can about this program. Document your payments. Fill out the paperwork. Do your homework? If I didn’t advocate for myself none of this would have occurred. If you don’t know what is going on reach out to people who can help you, including me. People may not have all of the answers, but at least maybe we can get you through the fog.
I have actually helped a dozen people at my university this past month or so after I gave a workshop on it a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, I had bad news for most people. But they weren’t angry. They were grateful for the information. Again, I don’t have all of the correct information and I might not be able to help, but there are organizations out there who can help you. But YOU have to contact them and reach out.
Finally, I think you have to make the effort. I know a couple of people who I work with who might be eligible for this program, but they need to fill out the paperwork to get started. For whatever reason, they haven’t done it. I have even offered to fill it out for them. But it requires a little more leg work, but not much.
I think that this is too important to wait, just as I think a lot of money issues are too important to wait. We don’t wait on getting ourselves healthy or our children or even our cars often or homes, but we do with money. We wait. We don’t take care of some of the issues that would be an easy fix (e.g. calling to reduce your cable bill or filling out paperwork to enroll in your 401k). Why? It might take a few minutes of your time, but I would submit that most of us have a few minutes or even longer to do this. It is time we stop waiting with money issues. It is time we take action. Not tomorrow, not after breakfast, but NOW!
Of course, some of that is hyperbole because you might have to wait for a bank to open or whatever, but I guess what I am saying is that I still think the biggest financial problem people have is that they don’t pay attention. They just don’t pay attention and then things get out of control. A New Year’s resolution for all of us should be to pay more attention to our finances, including me, because God knows I could use all kinds of improvement.
The Bottom Line:
My student loans are forgiven. Wahoo. I met my goals. It doesn’t really improve my monthly cash flow as I mentioned, but this is a weight off my shoulders. Now I am more determined than ever to help people reach financial literacy and pursue goal financial health. Hopefully, this good news will be mean more big things down the road for our family.