U.S. Department of Education Freedom of Information Denial Service Center Odyssey Continues

Sadly, it seems indeed that the U.S. Department of Education Freedom of Information (FOIA) Service Center should be renamed Department of Education Freedom of Information Denial Service Center. At least in my case this FOIA Service Center has little to do with freedom of information and much to do with denying to honestly provide accurate information that would help to move the case forward.

As I state below, the longer this dispute continues, the stronger case are we generating (and are documenting on the Internet) that demonstrates that the Department of Education either is involved in illegitimate operations or is in some instances critically lacking competency that is necessary for financial transactions handling and has been trying to cover up that lack of competency. The latter brings us back to the illegitimate operations charge.

We can go on and on with this case. These facts will not change.

  • The letter published below was delivered to:
  • The U.S. Department of Education FOIA Unit, USPS Delivery Confirmation EL778983045US

ATTN: FOIA Service Center

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue SW

Washington, DC 20202

Dear Arthur Caliguiran,

Please note that this is an open letter that I will publish on the Internet, on StopExtortion.org so that it is accessible to the general public and to other institutions.

I received your response dated 08/02/2017. In your response you mentioned my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, yet, you did not respond to my FOIA request. Under the circumstances I am forced to submit my FOIA request again, which I do below.

I am interested in moving this case forward. We can do so by establishing, whether or not documents exist that demonstrate that the alleged student loan lending and borrowing transactions actually took place, that I actually received the allegedly borrowed money either directly, or indirectly as tuition support, and that the corresponding legally binding valid debt instruments exist.

Accordingly, in my FOIA request I am asking for specific information or for the relevant, specific statements. If you or your colleagues, once again, refuse to provide the relevant information or statements, I will have to contact the Department of Education and other relevant institutions again and again.

We do know that a guaranty agency created student loan related records and documents after I graduated from college in 1996.

We also know that in 2008 the Department of Education created internal records based on the guaranty agency records. Based on the available information I have to conclude that in 2008 the Department of Education created consumer lending records without existence of actual consumer lending transactions and corresponding actual consumer lending documents. Neither Congress nor any other institution has ever authorized the Department of Education to operate this way.

Subsequently, the Department of Education started using these internal records as if these records were based on actual, real life lending and borrowing transactions. Of course, when I requested debt validation, then things fell apart.

The Department of Education has had over 5 years to work on this case and has dragged me along. As of today, I have not received any documents that demonstrate that the alleged student loan lending and borrowing transactions actually took place, that I actually received the allegedly borrowed money either directly, or indirectly as tuition support, and that the corresponding legally binding valid debt instruments exist.

Accordingly, I have to conclude that no alleged bank loans exist and no alleged debt obligation exists either.

However, the Department of Education has refused to close this case. Therefore, I must continue to request relevant information and statements.

Regarding the FOIA request, the Department of Education has not furnished any statement that clearly says that no documents exist that demonstrate that the alleged student loan lending and borrowing transactions actually took place, that I actually received the allegedly borrowed money either directly, or indirectly as tuition support, and that the corresponding legally binding valid debt instruments exist.

If the Department of Education insists that a valid debt obligation does exist, then the Department of Education also must furnish validating proof. Obviously, records and documents that were generated by third parties after I graduated from college do not in any way validate that I borrowed money as bank loans while in college.

The Department of Education is making monetary demands and the burden of proof is on the Department of Education. I do not have to contact the school for any information. Similarly, I do not in any other way have to prove that I do not owe non-existent loans.

Further, keep in mind that the Department of Education is in the shoes of the alleged lender, Fleet Bank, a commercial entity. In accordance with case law, (citing)

  • as assignees, the Guaranty Agencies and other secondary holders step into the shoes of the lender from whom they have taken the promissory notes and are subject to any defenses that the student/obligee may assert against the assignor/lender. See Jackson v. Culinary School of Washington, 788 F. Supp. 1233, 1248 n.9 (D.D.C. 1992), reversed on other grounds, 27 F.2d 573 (D.C. Cir. 1994), vacated, 515 U.S. 1139, on reconsideration, 59 F.3d 354 (D.C. Cir. 1995).

The above citation is applicable to the time period when the alleged loans were made.

The Department of Education is also a federal agency and is obligated to furnish information on federal student aid that has been provided to me.

Accordingly, I will repeat my FOIA request below.

Also, keep in mind that the longer this dispute continues, the stronger case are we generating (and are documenting on the Internet) that demonstrates that the Department of Education either is involved in illegitimate operations or is critically lacking competency that is necessary for financial transactions handling and has been trying to cover up that lack of competency.

One of the above conditions, if not both, must be true regarding this case. So, we can go on and on with this case. These facts will not change.

The current administration inherited these problems but is now actively working on making them their own problems – without any conceivable upside, but with ever increasing downside.

Freedom of Information (FOIA) Request

This is a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 USC 552, as amended, and the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 USC 552a, as amended.

Enclosed please find a signed copy of the Certification of Identity and Consent form.

Please process the Freedom of Information Act request listed below.

  • (ITEM 1) In order for student loan debt to exist, the relevant lending and borrowing transactions must take place. Accordingly, please send me copies of the signed lending and borrowing transactions documents that demonstrate that one or more banks lent me money as student loans and I borrowed money as student loans from one or more banks while I attended Rhode Island College from 1990 to 1996 as an undergraduate student.
  • I attended Rhode Island College as an undergraduate student from 1990 to 1996. Therefore, regarding ITEM 1, please DO NOT send me any documents or computer records that were generated after 1996 or about which it is not clear (1) who, (2) when and (3) for what purpose generated the original document or the original computer record.
  • If the requested documents do not exist, please state explicitly that no signed lending and borrowing transactions documents exist that demonstrate that one or more banks lent me money as student loans and I borrowed money as student loans from one or more banks while I attended Rhode Island College from 1990 to 1996 as an undergraduate student.
  • (ITEM 2)Please send me all the information that the U.S. Department of Education has or is able to obtain from the guaranty agency and other relevant sources on my receiving Pell Grant and work-study financial aid while I attended Rhode Island College as an undergraduate student from 1990 to 1996.
  • Please note the following:
  • -- This is a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 USC 552, as amended, and the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 USC 552a, as amended.
  • -- The Department of Education is a department of the United States government.
  • -- Both Pell Grant and work-study financial aid are federal financial aid.
  • -- Therefore, Department of Education is obligated to furnish information regarding my receipt of Pell Grant and work-study financial aid.
  • If the Department of Education insists that it does not have, and is not able to obtain, any information on my receipt of Pell Grant and work-study financial aid, please state so clearly and explicitly.
  • If the Department of Education refuses to furnish Pell Grant and work-study financial aid related information under the Freedom of Information Act request, please state clearly and explicitly which law or regulation such refusal is based on.

Please keep in mind the following:

  • I attended Rhode Island College as an undergraduate student from 1990 to 1996. As a student, I did apply for financial aid. I am not disputing this. Therefore, there is no need to send me partial copies of financial aid applications that I filled in as an undergraduate student between 1990 to 1996. We are not disputing my applying for financial aid. Thus, partial copies of old financial aid applications are completely irrelevant to my Freedom of Information Act request.
  • I attended Rhode Island College as an undergraduate student from 1990 to 1996. If I actually did receive bank loans that paid for my education, as the Department of Education insists, then the relevant lending and borrowing transactions must have taken place before I graduated in 1996. Therefore, there is no need to send me hand written notes and documents and computer records that were generated after I graduated in 1996 as “proof” on lending and borrowing transactions that allegedly took place before I graduated in 1996.
  • I am not disputing that the guaranty agency and the Department of Education generated documents and computer records after I graduated in 1996. So, once again, there is absolutely no need to send proof of that activity.
  • Curiously, based on the available information, the “proof” of my allegedly borrowing money as student loans has been generated after I graduated in 1996. Once again, obviously such material does not in any way validate either existence of bank loans or accuracy of the records that were created years after I graduated from college.
  • So, absolutely none of the documents and computer records that have been furnished demonstrate that any bank actually lent me money as student loans, and that I borrowed money as student loans, and that I actually received the allegedly borrowed money either directly, or indirectly as tuition support, and that the corresponding legally binding valid debt instruments exist.
  • Please keep in mind that the Department of Education was not the alleged lender. Instead, because the Department of Education claims that it holds legally binding promissory note documents, the Department of Education is now in the shoes of the alleged lender, Fleet Bank, a commercial entity that is subject to Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) requirements.
  • As a student I did fill in and sign financial aid applications. Department of Education has been peddling partial copies of these financial aid applications as legally binding promissory note documents.
  • The financial aid applications that I filled in and signed are approximately half a page long and do end with a short section that is labeled Promissory Note. Below that section is the only place on the application for a signature and that is where I signed my financial aid applications as a student. Based on these financial aid applications I received Rhode Island College Honors Scholarship, Pell Grant and work-study financial aid that covered the cost of my attending Rhode Island College 1990-1996.
  • My signing the financial aid applications below the section that is labeled Promissory Note does not in any way make me a borrower. A bank actually lending money to me and my accepting the loan would make me a borrower. In that case, the relevant documents and records would demonstrate that lending and borrowing took place.
  • As I have found out through my research, actual legally binding promissory note documents must contain the following information in order to meet the UCC requirements:
  • -- The exact principal amount that has to be paid.
  • -- Specific interest rate.
  • -- Due date, and when and at what frequencies any money has to be paid.
  • -- Document must be an unconditional promise to pay.
  • The financial aid applications that I signed do not contain any such information, because these are merely financial aid applications. No lending and borrowing transactions took place. Without lending and borrowing transactions relevant documents and information do not exist and no valid debt obligation exists either.
  • Another UCC requirement is that a legally binding promissory note must be an unconditional promise to pay. The financial aid applications that I signed fail this requirement as well, because they do not state with certainty that the financial aid applicant will receive or has received any loan amount at all. Similarly, the financial aid applications that I signed do not in any way demonstrate that I borrowed any money whatsoever.
  • Thus, keep in mind that in each instance when the Department of Education peddles partial copies of financial aid applications as legally binding promissory note documents, the Department of Education is deliberately using false documents for the purpose of potential monetary gain.

Further, please note that the above FOIA request is part of an ongoing case that started in December of 2011. In the process, I have requested relevant information and documents from the Department of Education FOIA Office before. However, the Department of Education FOIA Office has never sent me the information and the documents that I actually requested. Instead, the Department of Education FOIA Office has sent me partial copies of financial aid applications that I filled in between 1990 and 1996, internal documents which seem to have been generated after I had graduated from college in 1996, computer screen snapshots of records that seem to have been generated after I had graduated from college in 1996, copies of my previous correspondence with the Department of Education and other material that is completely irrelevant to the information and documents that I actually requested from the Department of Education FOIA Office.

Such actions do not in any way contribute to resolving this case and only prolong it. Thus, I hope that with your response you will address the actually requested information and documents.

Thomas Eklund

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