The Power of a Threat

posted in: Life | 0

I have been having some issues with the school since the middle of the fall semester.  They were claiming that the VA had not paid my tuition but I had paperwork from the VA saying they had.  I finally went to see the Director of Financial Services as recommended by the Dean’s secretary and he figured out the problem and fixed it.  Or so I thought.  At that point everything I had, on and offline, said that my tuition had been paid and that I owed nothing.  Then one day a few months later, out of nowhere, I get an email saying that I still owed my Fall tuition.  Say what???

I called several people and everyone kept telling me the same thing; the VA paid for the Spring but not the Fall.  Now, I KNEW this to be wrong because I had paperwork that showed otherwise.  After getting the run around from everyone, I went to the Dean’s office.  As with every time I’ve tried to see the Dean, he wasn’t there.  I talked to his secretary instead, again.  I explained to her that the school was insisting that the VA had never paid for the Fall semester but that I had proof that they had.  Not only did I have paperwork from the VA but I had paperwork from the school proving that it had been paid.

She made copies of everything and gave me an appointment to see the Dean.  The morning of the appointment she called me and told me not to come in because there was nothing the Dean could do.  Instead, she was going to make some phone calls and see how exactly dealt with this sort of thing and she’d keep me updated.  She didn’t get anywhere I hadn’t so told me that is was between the VA and me.  The Dean and his staff washed their hands clean of this mess and left me to fend for myself. 

The issue is, it was NOT between the VA and me; it was between the SCHOOL and the VA.  I went back to the Director of Financial Services, who has presumably “fixed” the problem the first time and talked to him.  He called the Department of Financial Services at the campus that deals with the VA for my campus and talked to them.  Again, they said the VA had not paid.  At this point no one had explained to me how it was possible that my tuition had not been paid yet I had SEVERAL pieces of paper from the school saying that it had.  That was the issue everyone kept tap dancing around and I was getting fed up.

The Director of Financial Services told he’d look further into it and call me.  One hour later he called me and told that a) I had actually gotten certified at a different campus and b) I was not elegible for 100% of VA benefits, only 60%.  Clearly, someone was on crack. I didn’t tell him to go fuck his mother then because I still needed him.  He gave me a phone number for the VA person at that other campus and told me she had to deal with it.  It just so happened that I already talk to that person several times before the first time this issue came up.  This person claims she does not do anything related to payments and could not help me.  Even my PTK advisor went to the Dean and was told the same thing I had been told. Then I got scolded for going to my advisor.

Excellent…I was getting nowhere.  Now, I NEEDED this issue to be cleared because I needed to send transcripts to the University of Miami and the deadline was March 1st.  I could not request transcripts because of my outstanding balance.  If I had missed this deadline for a mistake that was not my own, I would have raised some serious hell.  I finally managed to get the Director of Financial Services to do an overwrite and let me get two transcripts.  Great, at least that was taken care of.  The issue money issue still had to be solved or I wouldn’t be able to graduate.  I had proof, lots of proof but somehow that wasn’t enough.

I called the VA to try to track the payments but they wouldn’t do it for me, only for the school.  They did give me the exact amounts and dates of both payments and passed it to someone, I forget who, at the school.  They had to call the VA if they wanted to track the payments.  This had been going on for months and I was at my wit’s end.  I was considering lawyers, court, you name it.  Then last Thursday I got a voicemail from someoone saying something to the effect of “Hello, my name is So and So.  I am calling about your VA payment.  Hhhm…the VA did pay, it was just that Financial Services never got around to clearing it.  We are going to go ahead and clear it and the problem will be solved”.  I could not believe my ears.  I didn’t know whether to but furious, be happy that it was all over or both.  All this freaking time it was THEIR fault and the dumbasses refused to admit it.

But it was not over!  on Friday I got an email from the school saying I was being sent to collection for nonpayment! I checked the online system and in fact it still showed that I owed Fall tuition.  I tried calling back the person that left me the voicemail but she never picked up.  I left a message but she never called me back.  The I finally had it yesterday and called one of the people I had talked to at Financial Services.  I just wanted to know how long it would take them to clear the payment since I was being sent to collection.  Wanna hear what she said? “Well, it shows the VA did not pay”.  THAT was just the last straw.  I told her about the voicemail then I proceeded to tell her “Look, I have been dealing with this for months.  The school has finally admitted it was a mistake on your part all along but you still have not fixed it.  At this point, I am ready to take this to the college President and I will do so”.  Then I got a call while I was in class and she left message saying that yes, they had found the money and they would clear it that same day.

Effectively enough, I woke up to a $0 balance and no financial obligations.  It took months of pain and agony for the school to admit their mistake and a threat to take it to the college President for them to actually fix it.  I am saddended by this entire thing.  All that time spent defending my stance when I knew I was right and they refused to admit they were wrong…it is all time I cannot get back.

The kicker?  The school never refunded the VA for a class I dropped so now the VA is sending me the bill because it is MY responsability to pay.  I am inclined to think getting the school to pay the VA back will be just as difficult, it not more so.

Never a dull day.

PS.  I typed this while on break at school.  I have not edited for typos.

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