‘I Am Waiting for the Government to Make Good on Their Promises’
U.S. Census Bureau
What do you do?
My name is Shavonn Taylor, I work for the U.S. Census Bureau. And I am a supervisory statistician. I've been with the Bureau since 2004.
How did you find out about the program? What made you decide to pursue it? Did it affect your job choice after graduation?
I found out about the program shortly after it was announced, I believe it was announced maybe Octoberish 2007. I found out shortly thereafter, you know, I thought it was a great idea and I wanted to pursue it. But after finding out some of the additional details, it wasn't what I thought it was. It hasn't had an impact on my decision to be a public servant. No, I was still going to be a public servant, whether my loans were forgiven or not, I'm not just waiting for them to be forgiven the hardship, but I am waiting for the government to make good on their promises.
Did any of your loans get forgiven?
Zero loans have been forgiven, almost zero communication. It's pretty much submit your documentation, and wait and wait and wait some more. I've called a couple times, I checked daily, I checked the Reddit boards and nothing has really happened with my loans. And even though the servicer, you know, the representatives are friendly. They have almost zero information to help you.
How did the October streamlining announcement affect your relationship with the program?
The good part is the waiver that was introduced last fall. That's the good part. And it pretty much stops there. The bad part or the most difficult part was in 2007, when the program was introduced, when I would call my loan servicer, I would get varying answers on the path to forgiveness. So, I've been told everything from, “yes, if you go with a standard repayment plan, your loan will be forgiven in 10 years.” But under the standard repayment plan, “You pay back your loan in 10 years, I was told, if I switched to this particular payment plan, then I you know, my loans would be forgiven.” But I was never told that I would have to consolidate and start over from scratch. So finally, I was told, “Hey, you're in the wrong loan altogether, you have to consolidate and then start over.” But I already started paying back my loans in 2004. Once I found out that information, it was 2012. I didn't want to start over.
What was the hardest part of the process? Can you walk us through the biggest hurdles you had to overcome?
Communication was definitely the most difficult part. It was no, there was no one place you could go and find out all the information you needed to find pertaining to public service loan forgiveness. And I mean, I read from several different places, you know, all the servicers that were servicing the loans, they had, you know, they had different spiels that they were telling to, you know, customers, and so, it just, it was no consistency, and it was definitely clear as mud. That's the best way to put it… I'm eligible under the waiver, I submitted my documentation for it in November of last year. I submitted the PSLF application as well as the consolidation application, the consolidation went fine. After about six weeks, I received notification saying, “Hey, we don't accept electronic signatures from HR departments.” So, I resubmitted it maybe three days later, that was in January. I waited, waited and waited, I've received a letter saying my employment has been approved. In my case, it is just a complete slam dunk. I've been with the same agency. I've never had any deferment or forbearance. I've made every single payment on time, in full. I don't understand how it can be so complicated. And I even helped them out by submitting my payment history to them, and it hasn't helped at all.
Did your agency give you any kind of help?
No, it did not. You know, I never really went to my agency because I was you know, I was dealing with a loan servicer who was holding my loan, so I thought that they were the best source of information.
Do you have any other thoughts on the past two years you’d like to share?
I wish that Fed Loan, who most of us are consolidating, and the Department of Education would at least give status updates, or let you know where you are in the pipeline, or just get some information because people are waiting. But when you've already waited 10 years, it you know, it's very painful to continue just to wait for your number to be called even though you don't know what the number is.… I'm a part of the Reddit community so I can see where other people are receiving forgiveness. I'm always happy for them but it's almost like, “what's going on? Where are you? What's the holdup?” I'm just hoping that my story is actually an outlier. I'm hoping that everybody else's process is smooth and people receive, you know, the forgiveness they're entitled to.