My OSAP "ordeal"!

Monday, March 1, 2004


Written by Jennifer Sperry

The following is a letter that was sent to thecannon.ca by Jennifer Sperry. It has not been edited in any way. To contact Jennifer, please use the email address that she has provided.

To whom it may concern,

Please take the time to review my ordeal with the Ontario Student Loan Program. OSAP loans are typically composed of two portions, the provincial half, which is held by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (or the student’s bank), and the national half, which is held by the government and administered to by the National Student Loan Services Centre. For my entrance year of university, 2000, I received a National Student Loan in the amount of $1766.97 to cover my expenses as a student. As you know, each year students are required to send the National Student Loan Services Centre a confirmation of enrollment form before November 1st to ensure that the loan does not go into
re-payment status prematurely (before the student concludes post secondary studies).

In October of 2002, I sent in my confirmation, via regular mail, to the address listed in the NSLSC instruction letter I received, as well as to my bank. My bank received it’s copy of the confirmation, I have my copy of the confirmation, but for some mysterious reason, NSLSC did not receive their copy. Time went by, and unbeknownst to me, my National Loan went into repayment status on November 1st 2002. I was not contacted by NSLSC for confirmation that I was finished school. I was also not contacted verbally, or by mail, to be informed that my loan was now in repayment status, and that 4 MONTHS of unpaid loan and interest payments had lapsed. No phone call, no statement of account, no late notification was sent to me from the time I sent in my confirmation of enrollment until December of 2002 when I was home for Christmas.

In December of 2002, NSLSC contacted me by phone to tell me that I owed outstanding interest on my loan. I explained to them that, as I was still in school, my loan was not due to be repaid. It was only at this point that I learned that they had not received my confirmation of enrollment. I explained to them that I had indeed mailed the documentation to them and that it must have gotten misplaced on their end. I said that I would send another form to them, but I wanted the interest accrued to be annulled. The representative that I was speaking to informed me that “I must not have followed procedure” and that I would not have the interest removed.

After calling NSLSC several times and getting no help or additional information, I insisted on speaking to a supervisor. “Victor” again informed me that the NSLSC is perfect and could not possibly have made a mistake. I would therefore have to pay the outstanding interest ($47.64) and send in another confirmation of enrollment in order to have my loan taken out of repayment status. At this point I contacted Sault Ste. Marie MPP Carmen Provenzano for help, but the receptionist there could only give me a phone number, which, through a maze of automated phone systems, only lead me back to the NSLSC call centre. I gave up. I went to the bank on February 25th, 2003 and got a money order for the outstanding interest and mailed it – this time registered mail, to NSLSC along with another copy of my confirmationof enrollment.

As I was at the bank that day, the teller asked if I would like to have overdraft protection put on my account. When I said I did, she started the procedure but informed me that I only qualified for the minimum protection as my credit was in bad standing due to unpaid student loan payments. What next?

Well, I thought the ordeal was behind me until, in March of 2003 the second copy of my proof of enrollment (but curiously not the money order for the $47.64) was forwarded to my home in Sault Ste. Marie. According to the accompanying letter, the documentation had been forwarded from the NSLSC to the CIBC bank, who had no use for it, and sent it back to me. Luckily, all trust I had in my government was lost by this point, and I had sent that documentation, as you remember, by registered mail (item number 75 524 897 864 if you want to look it up). Canada Post records showed that this mail was received and signed for at NSLSC on February 26th 2003 by an S. Jackson. Armed with this information, I called NSLSC again to find out what happened. They told me that they did not receive the documentation at all, although they did receive the interest payment (funny, they were in THE SAME ENVELOPE). Again, I spoke to
Victor at NSLSC and when I told him that I had records that they received the confirmation he said that the interest as of Feb. 26th only would be removed from my account provided that I send in a THIRD confirmation of enrollment. He also informed me that nothing could be done about the negative credit rating.

This response did not satisfy me, but I sent in another set of documentation anyway. When I returned to Sault Ste. Marie in April 2003, I consulted the local Legal Aid clinic. There, I was informed that my best course of action would be to get a Lawyer to send a letter to NSLSC explaining the situation and demanding that my good credit be restored. I did so, and on July 4th 2003, Robert Church, Q.C. sent a letter on my behalf to NSLSC asking that they contact the credit bureau and forward to him (Mr. Church) a copy of that correspondence. A copy was never sent to Mr. Church, but NSLSC contacted me by phone at my Guelph residence to ask about the letter. I once again explained the situation and said that I was prepared to take legal action if the problem was not rectified. The NSLSC representative informed me that my case would be reviewed by and investigation committee and I would be contacted with the results within a week. I was not contacted by NSLSC in the indicated week, so I called them. I was then informed that all negative credit marks
would be removed from the time that the second, registered confirmation was received, as documented by Canada Post. All negative marks previous to that date would remain and there was nothing I could do about it. I decided that
it was time to just accept that my credit was obliterated and move on with my life.

The following school year, I was going to make sure they got my confirmation of enrollment. In October of 2003, when I went to student financial services at the University of Guelph to pick up the new confirmation of enrollment for 2003-2004, I was informed that I no longer had to mail it in, and that the University would submit it electronically. Just before the November 1st deadline, I contacted NSLSC to ensure that they had received the electronic confirmation. You can imagine my surprise when they said that they did not have it because of a “glitch in the system” that caused not all Universities to be able to send the information properly. When I asked why, then, had my school told me that everything was taken care of, the representative told me that not all institutions were aware of this problem. Apparently it is below the NSLSC to pick up the phone and tell the University of Guelph that the electronic submission program is notworking. The representative told me that I would have to send in a paper copy of the documentation myself. Since the deadline was fast approaching, I asked what the fastest way to get it in would be and he gave me a fax number to send it to.

On October 23rd, 2003, I called NSLSC again to confirm that fax # (1-888-815-4657), and was informed to mark the fax “COE.” I sent the fax from the U of G M&T store at 2:58 PM on October 23rd and received a “send confirmation report” for that fax. This time, I thought the ordeal was over for sure.

Low and behold, this February (2004) I have received an account statement indicating that I am in arrears of my loan and have an interest payment of $21.43 due. Now how could this possibly happen? I sent in my confirmation both electronically and by fax. I called NSLSC again to see what the problem was, and again, they told me that they had received no confirmation. I told the representative that I had originally sent the confirmation electronically but that since it hadn’t gone through that I sent it by fax. She told me that in no way could they accept a fax confirmation and that the two representatives who gave me the fax # on separate occasions were both in error. Is this likely? In any case, the error was on their part, not mine, so I don’t see how I should have to pay interest for their mistake.

What exactly happened to the fax transmission that I sent. Did someone just discard it and not bother telling me or anyone else? The conversation with the NSLSC representative went downhill quickly when I attempted to explain the situation to her and she kept interrupting me. I demanded to speak to a supervisor and was refused that privilege. The representative was no longer helpful to me as she was very involved with berating me for complaining about my ordeal. I eventually had to end the conversation and call the NSLSC hotline again to get a more agreeable representative.

The second representative was very helpful and said that NSLSC would contact my institution to confirm that they had attempted to send the electronic confirmation. She said that if this was confirmed, that the latest interest on the loan would be revoked. I only hope that the NSLSC gets things right this time, for once.

I am completely frustrated at this whole situation. I am a student who works full time for four months a year to support herself for the other eight. I work 25 hours a week on top of my full time studies to make ends meet. I do not have time to deal with this disorganized, irresponsible system. OSAP will not give me another loan, and neither will anyone else with the credit standing I possess due to NSLSC’s sloppy administration. How, then am I to continue my studies? When I’m done school, how will I ever be able to buy a car, house, or start a business if I can’t get a loan? They have ruined me with their mistakes, and they’re placing the blame on me. This year, I was saving my money to buy a new computer for my schoolwork, but I think that I will have to use that money to pay off my loan and be rid of the whole situation. OSAP is supposed to help Ontarians meet their educational goals, but I have experienced nothing but grief from the whole situation.

Can’t anyone help me? Who’s job is it to make sure that these people are doing their jobs properly? How many students are going through the same trials that I am? Please, if you can help me, contact me.

Sincerely, Jennifer Sperry

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