It makes sense to me to turn my personal struggle with the U.S. Department of Education into something that can help to create value. I do so first and foremost as a software developer, working on long-term project that can benefit traditional students, adult learners and employers. This software development project is something that interests me. Of course, I have much less time available to me for working on this project, because I also must keep working on the U.S. Department of Education mandated debt validation case, whether I want to do so or not. The amount of time that I have lost over the last 4 years because of this case is reflected in the invoices that I have sent to the U.S. Department of Education.
In the process of working on this case, I also examine higher education attaining related problems and opportunities.
Based on the available information we can conclude that people who lead the current government are, in general, genuinely good people, and very capable people. Yet, rather strangely, there seems to be an almost critical lack of understanding, that if a government institution does not serve the interest of the people whom it is supposed to benefit, we all lose.
It seems obvious that serving the interests of traditional students, adult learners and employers who hire college graduates should be a very high priority for the U.S. Department of Education.
Can you name any significant policies or initiatives from the last 7 years, where there is solid proof that because of U.S. Department of Education’s actions college students are better off than before, because they now receive an education that meets both their own and their employers needs better than previous alternatives did?
That is, are there any significant policies or initiatives, where the U.S. Department of Education can say something to the effect of “We made this happen and we have solid proof that because of this the current and future students receive an education that they can effectively use after graduation because it meets both the students and the employers needs better than previous alternatives did?”
Further, can you name any significant policies or initiatives from the last 7 years, where there is solid proof that because of U.S. Department of Education’s actions traditional students, adult learners and employers now receive more value for the money that is spent on education than they did before?
Based on the available information it seems that instead of focusing on delivering value to traditional students, adult learners and employers in changing socio-economic environment, the U.S. Department of Education has been led by focus on pursuing strong-arm tactics, especially in student loan related areas.
It does look like the U.S. Department of Education has been led by addiction to power. The interests of traditional students, adult learners and employers were not near the top of Washington’s political power grid. Accordingly, serving the short-term interests of other constituencies has been prioritized higher than interests of traditional students, adult learners and employers.
Clearly, this was a choice, or, actually, a series of choices. Perhaps, choices made based on personal or political preferences. Perhaps, choices made because what was perceived as a necessity. Choices, nevertheless, because there is no reason to conclude, that the decision makers could not have chosen differently, if they really wanted to do so.
As a result, higher education reputation has been declining.
Considering the state of the economy, students who attain higher education now, are not better off than were students who graduated 8 or more years ago.
Student loan debt crisis continues to have strong negative impacts on millions of people and on the entire economy.
The U.S. Department of Education has the ability to affect both very many people’s lives and the well-being of different companies, industries and the entire economy. Accordingly, the misplaced focus has caused substantial damage to large number of people and to the United States as a country.
More research is needed in the above areas, so that we can determine both educational objectives that actually can deliver value to the students and employers and the extent of the damage that has been done. Without identifying the latter, the probability is higher that the same mistakes will be repeated.
On a personal note, I will repeat here the same thoughts that appear in the introduction to the letter to the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
When you explain to an addict, why his or her addiction related behavior is inappropriate, it is likely that the addict will not listen to you. Addict doesn’t listen to reason, especially when addiction related areas are involved. Addict follows whatever the addiction related needs dictate to him or her.
Outside intervention is often needed in order to modify addiction related behaviors.
The same seems to apply to the U.S. Department of Education handling student loan related debt validation. People there are addicted to the powers that have been granted to the Department of Education.
My dispute with the U.S. Department of Education overlaps several areas: legal, financial, human rights and civil rights. I have been contacting, and will continue to contact, individuals and institutions from all of these areas, presenting evidence of wrongdoing by the U.S. Department of Education, until the U.S. Department of Education finally ends the unvalidated demands and issues a statement that I have been requesting.
Below is a copy of another letter that is related to my struggle with people at the U.S. Department of Education. Starting with next month’s letter, I will publish an overview of the individuals and institutions that I have contacted so far regarding this case. That section is one of the longest in the letter. I will keep updating that section in each consecutive letter that I will send out and publish on this website. I will also start addressing the relevant topics on other websites that get substantially more traffic than StopExtortion does.
Every contacting instance is only a beginning. This case has potentially countless beginnings, but far fewer conclusions.
The Honorable Thomas E. Perez
U.S. Secretary of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20210
Dear Secretary Perez,
I live in the United States and am U.S. citizen. For close to 4 years I have been forced to work in involuntary servitude conditions and I am seeking your support with ending this situation.
Even though you are the U.S. Secretary of Labor, due to complexities of this case you and your assistants may not be able to do very much about it. Other, more dominant institutions, may want to keep things just the way they are now. However, it can make a big difference, if you have the conviction to indicate, that you do not support the wrongdoings that clearly are involved in this case and are described below.
I am addressing my situation here. However, if the government finds usage of involuntary servitude conditions and operating practices that rely on extortion-like demands acceptable in one case without just cause, then other people can be subjected to similar treatment.
The U.S. Department of Education has been demanding money from me for an alleged debt. Despite of my repeated requests, no validation has been offered, that any corresponding lending and borrowing transactions have actually taken place, and that I have ever received any of the alleged loans either directly or indirectly, as tuition support.
This case has been going on for close to 4 years, remaining in the same debt validation status. No end in sight. The only progress that has been made, has been made because I have been working on this case.
In the U.S. there is no institution that resolves student loan related disputes in a completely impartial manner, taking equally into consideration the interests of both sides.
Thus, I am seeking your help with resolving this case.
Please note that I am not seeking any kind of debt relief. I am seeking relief from being forced to work endlessly and without compensation on a debt validation case that is intended to benefit the U.S. Department of Education financially and, under the circumstances, the U.S. Department of Education should handle completely impartially with its own resources, within a reasonable pre-determined period of time (for example, 3 months).
I have been documenting this case on the Internet. In accordance with the previous documentation, 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.
Further, please note that until this case is resolved, I need to keep records of the relevant correspondence. I am not able to record phone calls. Therefore, I can correspond in writing only, via regular mail.
I will explain below the current situation further.
I came to the U.S. in 1989 as a political refugee from the Soviet Union. I attended state owned Rhode Island College between 1990 and 1996 as an honors student. According to publicly accessible sources the in-state cost of tuition to attend the state owned Rhode Island College from 1990 to 1996 ranged from $1,703 to $2,838 a year.
I received Rhode Island College Honors Scholarship, Pell Grant and work-study financial aid that covered the cost of my attending Rhode Island College.
As far as I know, as a student I did not qualify for bank loans because I was in the U.S. on a temporary visa when I first attended college, and then on Green Card until graduation, without any credit history, co-signer or collateral. Further, initially I did not have any work experience and work history either. While I was a student my income was extremely low and did not support borrowing from a bank tens of thousands of dollars.
However, the Department of Education insists that I also borrowed $46,354.00 as principal from Fleet National Bank, to which the Department of Education later added interest and fees, so that at this point the Department of Education is demanding from me over $135,000.00.
The amount of money that the Department of Education claims that I borrowed is several times higher than I possibly could have received, even if I would have borrowed money. As a student, I did not live on campus. The Department of Education is unable to explain, how the $46,354.00 supposedly was used or where did it go.
I have been requesting debt validation from the Department of Education from December of 2011, when I received a student loan collection letter.
None of the demands have been validated. There is no validation that I ever received any of the alleged loans either directly, or indirectly, as tuition support. Similarly, there is no validation that any legally binding documents exist.
The over three years long dispute with the Department of Education has so far resulted in identifying the following:
The Department of Education representative does not state that I received student loans and that I must pay the Department of Education because I received student loans. Instead, the Department of Education representative states that I must pay them because I signed the financial aid applications, which the Department of Education also calls promissory notes. However, financial aid applications and promissory notes are different documents.
These less than a page long financial aid applications contain only one place for signature, in the middle of the page, and that is where I signed them.
Further, there are requirements set for legally binding promissory notes, and the financial aid applications that I signed do not qualify as legally binding promissory notes.
In addition, the bottom halves of the same less than a page long financial aid applications contain information that indicates, that the applications were processed for financial aid other than loans – and I did receive such financial aid.
When I started the debt validation process, I did not know any of this. It has taken me a lot of work and time to find out the relevant details and information. This entire process has been very difficult, causing me a lot of mental suffering.
Based on my case I have to conclude that the Department of Education employees purposefully want to maintain their stronghold, hoping to eventually force me into paying them anyway, because they have a never ending ability to make monetary demands that they do not have to actually validate. Thus, they knowingly cause endless suffering.
There is nothing accidental about this. Based on the available evidence, in this case the Department of Education employees cause this suffering purposefully and deliberately. This must be stopped.
This case is intended to benefit the U.S. Department of Education financially. Otherwise, this case would not exist.
There is no debt that the U.S. Department of Education is collecting money on. Instead, the information and the evidence that have been gathered overwhelmingly indicate that the U.S. Department of Education has been making monetary demands based on bad record keeping, which it tries to cover up. The relevant information and evidence have been gathered due to my work and efforts.
For over 3.5 years I have been forced to work on this U.S. Department of Education debt validation / bad record keeping cover-up case, without compensation, against my will. If I would not have worked on this case, I would be rendered into financial servitude, having to pay a debt that does not exist, and interest and penalties on top of a nonexistent debt.
Thus, I have to work on this case, whether or not I want to do so, because the alternative is even worse.
Further, I do not have any security and safety in this case. Even though the Department of Education has not furnished requested validation that the alleged debt actually exists, based on their statements, they can force me to pay them, for example, through garnishing wages.
Based on the above, I conclude that I have been working, and continue to work, in involuntary servitude conditions.
For all practical purposes, in the U.S., other than courts, there is no independent institution that would handle such cases completely impartially and would also have the authority to advise the U.S. Department of Education, or to take corrective action, if wrongdoing by the U.S. Department of Education has occurred.
However, that does not mean that the U.S. Department of Education employees have the legal right to render individuals into involuntary servitude by using the special powers granted to them, as they have done in my case.
I have requested that the Department of Education validates that (1) I received the alleged student loans and that the relevant debt exists, and (2) that the Department of Education holds relevant valid legally binding promissory note debt instruments, and (3) that the Department of Education is the legal owner of the relevant alleged debt.
Throughout the over 3.5 years long debt validation dispute, the Department of Education has failed in all three areas.
The Department of Education is not exempt from debt validation, and the Department of Education does not have the legal right to force a past student loan applicant to make payments on an unvalidated debt.
Accordingly, I request that the Department of Education ceases and desists making any further monetary demands and states in writing that the Department of Education will not under any circumstances take any actions and will not make any further demands regarding the specific previously claimed alleged debt, and will not authorize any individual, company, organization or institution to take any actions or to make any kinds of further demands regarding the specific previously claimed alleged debt.
In accordance with case law, (citing)
Please note, that the above citation is applicable to the time period when the alleged loans were made.
Accordingly, when the Department of Education becomes the holder of the promissory notes, it is not the original lender, nor the school involved, but the Department of Education that has to answer for actions related to originating and collecting the debt, as well as other potentially fraudulent aspects of an individual student loan cases.
In this case, legally binding promissory notes and debt either exist, or they do not exist.
If the Department of Education maintains a claim that it is the legal owner of legally binding promissory notes, I expect the Department of Education to furnish copies of the original legally binding promissory notes that are in accordance with Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) requirements for legally binding promissory notes. In that case, the Department of Education is also in the shoes of the lender. As lender, I expect the Department of Education to furnish proof, that the lending and borrowing transactions actually occurred and the corresponding debt obligations actually exist.
If the legally binding promissory notes do not exist, and there is no conclusive proof that the lending and borrowing transactions occurred, I expect the Department of Education to issue a statement clearly stating that it will end the unvalidated monetary demands.
Until then, I have to contact an ever increasing number of institutions and individuals, and during the next election cycle attempt to get national attention to the Department of Education’s operating practices, hoping that the next administration will follow more prudent policies. Thus, we have an everlasting dispute. Whom does that benefit?
I do believe, that it is in everybody’s interest to find a solution to this dispute.
As is stated above, for over 3.5. years I have been forced to work on Department of Education debt validation / bad record keeping cover-up case, without compensation, against my will. I have been invoicing the Department of Education along the way. For the sake of the relevant information I am enclosing a copy of the latest invoice.
Please note, that the invoices that I have submitted to the Department of Education so far list only compensation for the amount of time that has been robbed from me, because I have been forced to work on the Department of Education debt validation / bad record keeping cover-up case. These invoices do not list compensation for any other type of harm caused and for the opportunities that I have had to forgo because I have had to invest my time into working on this case.
I will relinquish requests for compensation that is listed in the enclosed invoice, if the Department of Education in return officially declares that it will relinquish usage of the following operating practices:
All of the above applies to my case. Thus, my case provides proof that the Department of Education does indeed use these operating practices. (As a relevant note I will add, that publishing this case on the Internet both provides information on the areas addressed here, and helps to increase awareness of these operating practices and of the importance of abolishing them.)
If we can put in place assurances, that nobody else has to go through the same ordeal in similar circumstances, we have made progress in ways that can actually help people. That would provide meaning to my several years long struggle.
Further, if we can resolve this dispute so, that the Department of Education agrees to relinquish usage of the operating practices listed above, there is an additional very important benefit to this. We can emphasize, that it is possible to resolve even complex disputes in a non-violent manner, without expensive court cases that financially are out of reach for most people.
I believe that we need more such examples from different areas of life, showing also clear pathways for non-violent and effective dispute resolution. Providing such examples is a process, not an event, and every little bit can help.
If the Department of Education refuses to relinquish usage of the operating practices listed above, naturally, a question arises: why? Why would the Department of Education still need to continue to operate in this manner?
Publicly accessible sources state that the in-state cost of tuition to attend Rhode Island College from 1990 to 1996 ranged from $1,703 to $2,838 a year.
The Department of Education insists, that as a student I borrowed $46,354.00 as principal, in addition to Rhode Island College Honors Scholarship, work-study financial aid and Pell Grant that I received. Please note, that I did not live on campus.
I graduated from college in 1996. According to the written correspondence received from the Department of Education, the Department of Education established its records in 2008. Based on the available evidence, the Department of Education established its records without existence of any documents that demonstrate that the underlying lending and borrowing transactions ever happened. Similarly, the Department of Education established its records without existence of valid legally binding promissory notes.
Out of the total amount of financial aid that I applied for as a student, the Department of Education picked approximately 80% as “loans,” apparently disregarding Rhode Island College Honors Scholarship, work-study financial aid and Pell Grant that I received. It is unknown, how that loan creating process took place. The available evidence indicates that this process took place after I graduated and without evidence that the relevant amounts are accurate – or even plausible.
Accordingly, based on my documented experience, the U.S. Department of Education creates and maintains assets without having the necessary corresponding debt instruments that meet the commonly accepted criteria, such as Uniform Commercial Code that applies to promissory notes.
As far as I know, such fictional balance sheet entry creating and maintaining without having the actual corresponding assets is illegal. Over the last decades, most of the accounting scandals (Enron, WorldCom, Waste Management, etc.) have been related to fictional assets and/or revenue creating. The same seems to apply to the U.S. Department of Education operations.
My experience with the U.S. Department of Education has been documented. While I am just one individual, I believe that this case has much broader ramifications. Many investors invest their money in the U.S. government bonds, so, clarity in this area is necessary. As part of a full relevant disclosure, these investors deserve to know if certain parts of the U.S. government have been creating assets without having the necessary corresponding debt instruments.
Accordingly, I do believe that thorough auditing of the U.S. Department of Education by an impartial entity can reveal, in how many instances assets have been created without the corresponding financial instruments, such as legally binding promissory note and a legally binding contract between an alleged borrower and lender.
Further, based on my personal experience I know, that in order to turn the fictional revenue streams and assets into real ones, the U.S. Department of Education uses extortion-like techniques, such as threats, false statements, document fabrication, intimidation and bullying.
Even when it is clear, that the U.S. Department of Education is unable to verify that the debt and corresponding debt obligations actually exist, the U.S. Department of Education refuses to end its unvalidated monetary demands and to close the case as requested. Behind this refusal may also be the need to keep in the books the fictional assets.
Briefly, the U.S. Department of Education operates by using the powers granted to it to demand money from an individual, while disregarding the fact that the corresponding debt and debt obligations do not exist.
This dispute with the U.S. Department of Education overlaps several areas: legal, financial, human rights and civil rights. I have been contacting, and will continue to contact, individuals and institutions from all of these areas, presenting evidence of wrongdoing by the U.S. Department of Education, until the U.S. Department of Education finally ends the unvalidated demands and issues a statement that I have been requesting.
From personal perspective I will say that I do believe that justice exists in the United States of America. Thus, I believe that eventually I will prevail. To me, these statements are highly meaningful.
All the information that I present here is inevitably presented from my point of view. However, I also try to present it as accurately and objectively as I can. While my opinion of the U.S. Department of Education is not high, the information presented here is above all based on the facts that are available to me.
If the U.S. Department of Education would work the same way, presenting the facts about the alleged debt and debt obligations, we would not have this dispute. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Education’s case is primarily based on opinions and generalizations, and statements like the following: “Schools frequently apply the funds from student loans to enrollment expenses, such as tuition, fees and other school charges. Students frequently do not directly receive the funds.” From this I am supposed to conclude, that the same applies to my case – and this is also supposed to be the validating proof, that my tuition and fees were paid with student loans, and not with other types of financial aid that I know I received.
Below is additional information on this case background.
The Department of Education claimed, that it has my original promissory notes in its possession. Later it turned out that such documents simply do not exist.
Similarly, the Department of Education has stated that in 1997 Fleet Bank, a private lender, submitted insurance claims to a guaranty agency, and the guaranty agency made monetary payments to Fleet Bank.
However, the only records that the Department of Education is able to furnish as proof of these transactions are internal documents – for all practical purposes scratch papers – that any employee could have filled in at any point in time. If these transactions did actually occur, then why aren’t there any documents showing that Fleet Bank submitted claims, and that guaranty agency made payments to Fleet Bank? If these transactions actually took place, then why did the guaranty agency chose to retain for years irrelevant scratch paper, instead of records of actual transactions?
The Department of Education demands that I must prove that I did not receive bank loans – even though the demands have not been validated. Thus, I am asked to prove that I did not receive nonexistent loans.
Because of the special powers granted to the Department of Education, the Department of Education can go on and on with these circular demands.
The Department of Education operates under a business model, where it uses the powers granted to this institution and keeps making unvalidated demands and pressuring the former student to make payments on unvalidated debt, even though, based on the available information, the debt does not exist.
I graduated from college in 1996. In 2012 the Department of Education sent me what they claimed to be copies of my original Notice of Loan Guarantee and Disclosure Statements. However, it turned out that these statements were generated in 2012 by entering my current information into a computer system in 2012 – more than 15 years after I graduated from college.
In June of 2014 I found out that the Department of Education had reported the unvalidated, non-existent student loans to Experian credit bureau, as if these were actual loans in collection.
To put things into perspective, I stared requesting debt validation in December of 2011 after I had received a student loan collection letter. At the time of my writing this letter, this debt validation dispute is ongoing, with no end in sight. Department of Education’s reporting of the fictional loans to a credit bureau started in 06/2012 and ended in 08/2013.
At the time when the Department of Education chose to report these fictional records as actual loans to a credit bureau, it must have been clear to the Department of Education, that there are no documents showing that I ever received any of these alleged loans either directly or indirectly, as tuition support. Similarly, it must have been clear to the Department of Education, that there are no actual promissory notes or contracts involved here.
Because the loans do not exist, the Department of Education is not collecting any monthly revenue on them either.
Thus, I have to conclude that the reason that the Department of Education chose to report these fictional records as actual loans to a credit bureau was bullying. People at the Department of Education wanted to show how powerful they are and what I can do to me.
These fraudulently reported records prevented me from obtaining credit, from renting an apartment, and from seeking employment. Thus, these actions caused me harm.
On 06/23/14 I contacted the Department of Education and requested removal of these records. The Department of Education responded, refusing to remove the fraudulently reported records.
On 03/16/15 I contacted Experian North America credit bureau, which removed these records from my credit report.
Following the instructions that I received from Naomi Randolph, Special Assistant, Operations Services, Federal Student Aid, I submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Education first on 07/15/13. I received a response stating that I must sign a specific statement. I did so. Then I received yet another request to sign yet another statement, where I had to declare under penalty of perjury that the information that I have provided about this case is true to the best of my knowledge. I did sign that specific statement as well.
After my third FOIA request, I received the United States Department of Education FOIA REQUEST ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, which states that the date the request was received was August 20, 2013. The FOIA tracking number of my request is XX-XXXXX-XX
The Department of Education has not explained what legal right did the Department of Education have to refuse to process my FOIA request until I had singed a statement under penalty of perjury.
I did receive a response to my FOIA request. The response, dated 03/11/14, states that my FOIA request “was forwarded to the appropriate office within the Department to search for documents that may be responsive to my request,” and the Office of Business Operations in FSA was “unable to locate any records responsive to my request.”
However, previously the Department of Education has stated that it has information on my receipt of grants. Thus, the FOIA response is in conflict with the information that the Department of Education has previously provided.
Accordingly, on 05/19/14 I contacted Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), National Archives and Records Administration. I received a response, dated 12/12/14, and requested clarification in a letter dated 02/09/15.
Consequently I also received a response form the Department of Education FOIA Unit, dated 03/09/2014, even though the letter was actually sent to me in 2015. In that letter the Department of Education FOIA Unit representative claimed, that they sent me 386 pages of information that is responsive to my FOIA request. In reality, 84% or 324 pages out of the total of 386 pages of the material that I received, were copies of my letters to the U.S. Department of Education, requesting validation of the alleged debt. Further, this material contained duplicated copies of my letters – apparently, in an attempt to generate more volume of the “legitimate support material,” the U.S. Department of Education FOIA Unit sent me 2 copies of my debt validation request letters to the Department of Education.
The rest of the material was copies of computer screen snapshots and other internal records that apparently were generated after I graduated from college. I did not receive any of the requested information that would demonstrate, that the alleged lending and borrowing transactions actually took place, and that I received any of the alleged loans either directly or indirectly, as tuition support while I actually attended college.
On 05/04/2015 I responded, requesting information on work-study financial aid. For some reason, the Department of Education FOIA Unit has not sent me information in the latter area.
At the time of writing this letter, I am waiting for the relevant information from the Department of Education FOIA Unit.
So, the case continues. However, as I stated above, I do believe that it is in everybody’s interest to find a solution to this dispute.