OKLAHOMA CITY - Update 10/3/18 - Several days after our In Your Corner report aired, the U.S. Department of Education finally took action notifying Ashley Dodson they had changed back the status of her loan and again, zeroed out the balance.
This means she can now apply for more federal aid to help her cover tuition at OSU-OKC.
“[There was] so much excitement, so much joy,” she said. “I cried because finally I get to go back to school, where I belong.”
This is huge for Ashley, who has Macular Degeneration and is facing long-term disability.
Remember, she wasn't able to enroll in school for a second straight semester.
The federal government forgave her old student loan, but then changed their mind because of missing paperwork that Ashley says she never received.
“It was an income verification sheet showing that I live below the poverty income.”
Even though Ashley appealed the government's decision and won, it seemed the Department of Education was in no hurry to change back the status of the loan.
Things have changed.
Ashley is now one step closer to enrolling in mid-term classes at OSU-OKC.
“I want a better education,” she added. “I feel like there are so many people out there I can help.”
Ashley Dodson has Macular Degeneration, but it’s not her disability that's keeping her from getting an education and becoming a drug and alcohol counselor.
For a second straight semester, Dodson can't enroll at OSU-OKC.
“There is anxiety because I want this resolved,” she said. “I want to be in school.”
Here's the hold up:
Facing long-term disability, Dodson asked the federal government to forgive her old student loan.
“I was approved,” she said.
Until she wasn't.
“When I contacted my financial advisor, he said my student loans had been put back in collection status," Dodson said.
Initially, the U.S. Department of Education said she wouldn't have to repay the loan and her balance was zeroed out.
Then, they changed their mind, all because of missing paperwork.
“It was an income verification sheet showing that I live below the poverty income," Dodson said.
Dodson denies ever receiving the form in the first place.
Now, Dodson can't qualify for additional federal aid to help her cover tuition. She appealed the decision and won but now said the government is dragging its feet on changing the status of her loan.
The U.S. Department of Education tells the In Your Corner team “these matters are not handled like an inquiry and this could take several weeks to have a response."
We alerted OSU OKC's president, Brad Williams, about Dodson's dilemma.
“We look for students and try to help them in a number of ways,” Williams said.
Williams said, in cases like this, the university is able to provide Financial Aid counseling but, at the end of the day, if there's a problem with financial aid, it's between the student and their loan provider.
“Those are federal processes, so our Financial Aid counselors are designed and intended to work closely with the students as they complete that process,” Williams said.
So, now, Dodson waits.
The In Your Corner team will keep trying but, two weeks later, there’s still no word from the U.S. Department of Education.
That means it's now too late for Dodson to enroll in fall classes.
We plan to keep checking back.
Federal Aid TV is a great resource for students with questions about Financial Aid.