I May Have Spoken Too Soon…

11 Dec

Remember the other day when I wrote about how excited I was to, for the first time in my adult life, be completely paid up on all my outstanding bills and be pretty much done with my Christmas shopping? And that I still had money left – a pretty good amount of money, actually, that I’ve been saving this entire year I’ve been on tour so that I can move to San Diego when this adventure comes to an end…? Well, as I should have expected, my optimism was suddenly crushed today with the receipt of a letter from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).

As I wrote in my earlier post, I was in a very bad place financially when I took this tour. It has taken me nearly a year to pull myself out of that rut, but I’ve done it – a feat that I once considered impossible. But over the summer, as I was still trying to get my things in order, I became behind in my student loan payments again. In July, I submitted a request for a Graduated Repayment Plan to Brazos Loan Servicing – one of my two student loan lenders. They accepted my request and reduced my payments to a manageable amount, also bringing my account current and waiving any late fees up to that point. Since then, I’ve done my absolute best to keep on top of those payments.

As recently as December 6, I phoned Brazos and made a payment of over $90, bringing my account current (meaning not delinquent and certainly not defaulted) with my next payment due on December 19.

Tonight when I arrived at the theatre, there was a delivery of mugs, magnets and keychains waiting for me at the stage door. I struggled to get them both through the maze backstage and through the doors with annoying handles and up the stairs to my booth. When I opened the box of magnets and keychains, my mail was there, as well, as my office forwards it to me from New York. A couple of pieces of mail had been opened (I assume accidentally, even though my name was clearly printed on all of it) and one happened to be a letter from PHEAA dated November 27, 2013.

The letter is clearly intended to immediately put the fear of God into the reader. It read, “Dear Borrower: FINAL NOTICE: PLEASE READ. According to our records, you have FAILED (thank you, PHEAA, for making me feel like more of a failure…and yes, they wrote “FAIL” in all caps) to respond to previous notices that your student loan is severely delinquent. As a result, your student loan will default!…” The letter goes on to explain that should I default, the entire amount I borrowed will be due in full to PHEAA immediately. I will be reported to “all nationwide consumer reporting agencies as a defaulted government debt.” PHEAA will “initiate collection action against” me, which could include garnishment of wages and IRS refunds. A 19% collection fee would be assessed and added to my defaulted balance, increasing the amount by nearly $2,300. Ain’t that a fine how’dja’do? The letter concludes with, “THIS IS YOUR FINAL NOTICE. PLEASE TAKE MATTERS INTO YOUR OWN HANDS AND CALL TODAY.” Talk about intimidation!

I immediately went into a tailspin after reading that letter. I very nearly cried in front of our two Evas tonight when they came to see me at my booth before the lobby opened. They both could tell that something was wrong. What do they mean, I’m defaulting? I’ve been paying my bills! I spoke to someone at Brazos on Friday – someone who gladly took my money – and she never once indicated that I was even late with the payment, let alone on the verge of defaulting! Is there another loan that I’m missing or forgetting? If that were the case, wouldn’t the woman at Brazos have mentioned something about it?

I went to Brazos’ website tonight after walk-in ended (sorry to all the patrons here tonight – I’m pretty sure I looked like a whipped puppy/zombie). I signed in and made another payment of $90 (a few dollars more than is actually due on the 19th) and, according to the site, my account is current and in repayment – not delinquent or in collections. I called ACS – my other loan lender – and checked my account there, too. Current and in repayment. Next balance due December 14.

The logical side of me keeps saying that I’m OK – that this is just a mistake that will be taken care of tomorrow. (The downside of being on the West Coast is it’s difficult to conduct business with the East Coast because of the time difference). The freaked out part of me thinks that I’m about to slapped with a bill for $14,000 just a week or two before Christmas. Harkening back to the shame factor I talked about in my last entry about money, I considered calling my Dad to try to get him to calm me down, but I didn’t want to admit to him what’s going on…not because I think he’ll fly off the handle, but because I don’t want to disappoint him and because I’m embarrassed. But…embarrassed of what?? According to everything I can find, I am all paid up on my bills! Completely! This should be a time of relief and a rare moment to relax and be proud of myself, but in this moment, all I can keep thinking is, Is there something I’ve missed?

Perhaps it’s irrational of me to look for trouble where there is none, but it has been my personal experience that no matter how much I try to be in complete control of the things going on around me (which creates a whole other set of issues) –  no matter how many times I check that the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted, it’s almost a guarantee that I have somehow missed an entire page of incomplete lettering and things will come crashing down around me. I know that’s a very Negative Nancy approach to living. I’m not proud of it and I am trying to change it.

So, what do I do? There’s not much I can do. I have to sit and wait until their offices are open tomorrow. I have to try to sleep through the anxiety of what I may be told when I speak to them. I will do what I always do – prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

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One Response to “I May Have Spoken Too Soon…”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. And There Was Much Rejoicing | Confessions of a Merch Whore - December 12, 2013

    […] of you keeping track, that’s really, really early for me, but thanks to last night’s scare, I wasn’t sleeping very well, so when I woke up for a pee (I’m old. It happens.), I […]

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