Help Dealing with Student Loan Bureaucracies (Governments, Banks or Collection Agencies)

 

The information and advice below should get you the help you need. Phone numbers were last updated November, 2013. 


Does your case involve a Canada Student Loan?

1) Before giving up on your attempt to work things out with your lender or collection agency, ask for a supervisor. Get his or her name and then explain that if you can't work things out, you will go to your Member of Parliament. This may get you the help you need.

2) If you still can't sort things out, go next to your Member of Parliament (MP). Tell the staff at your MP's local office how bad things have become and ask for help cutting through the red tape. They should be willing to either help directly or to ask someone at the Canada Student Loans Program or HRSDC to step in.

Here's how to find your Member of Parliament:

Through your postal code

Through your MP's name

 

3) If you still can't get help, go to the Canada Student Loans 'Ombudsperson' – as explained below. 

Canada Student Loans 'Ombudsperson':

Although the HRSDC ministry doesn't have an official ombudsperson for its Canada Student Loans Program, this role was served by former Minister Monte Solberg until October, 2008. Student Finance 101 has seen no evidence yet that this policy has changed under his successor, Diane Finley. The Minister's contact information has remained unchanged.

The Minister's toll-free office number is: 1-800-366-3005.

Office hours are stated as 8 am – 6:30 EST. Even during that time you may only get a recording. After French, the recording should switch to English.

Leave a message explaining briefly why you called, with your name and phone number. Staff from HRSDC or the loans program should call you back, often within a day or two.

If no one calls within a few days, call the Minister's office again. If that fails, go back to your Member of Parliament. Between these two offices, you really should find some assistance.


Does your case involve an OSAP (Ontario) Student Loan?

1) The 'Getting Help' link:

The OSAP 'Getting Help' link below is a notch above most government student loan sites. While there are many other issues that OSAP could have listed, it's a useful starting point, though  basically just contact numbers. For example:

Income Tax Refund Being Withheld Because of an Outstanding OSAP Debt Only

* Please call 1-800-387-5604 if in Ontario - or 1-416-326-0500 if outside Ontario. This is the 'Collections Management Unit.' Deaf students only: 1-416-327-3851 (TDD/TY).

Here is OSAP's 'Getting Help' page:

https://osap.gov.on.ca/eng/not_secure/CONTACT_gethelp_12.htm

If that OSAP Getting Help page doesn't really get you help, here's the drill:

2) Before giving up on your attempt to work things out with OSAP or OSAP's collection agency, ask for a supervisor. Get his or her name and then explain that if you can't work things out, you will go to your Ontario MPP. This may get you the help you need.

3) If you still can't sort things out, go next to your MPP. Tell the staff at your MPP's local office how bad things have become and ask for help cutting through the red tape. They should be willing to either help directly or to ask someone in your provincial higher education ministry to step in.

4) This Ontario Tenants link provides the full list of MPPs by location, or you can click to go by postal code or MPP's name.

http://www.ontariotenants.ca/government/mpp.phtml


Does your case involve Student Loans from another Province?

1) Before giving up on your attempt to work things out with your lender or collection agency, ask for a supervisor. Get his or her name and then explain that if you can't work things out, you will go to your MLA. (If that term is wrong, get the title for elected provincial member in your province. Most provinces have MLAs, but Ontario has MPPs, Quebec has MNAs (Members of the National Assembly) and so on. Check first. You need to sound authoritative. Get specifics from your library, a provincial government phone service or the blue pages of your phone book.)

2) If you still can't resolve the problem, go to your MLA or other elected provincial member for your district. Tell the staff at his or her local office how bad things have become and ask for help cutting through the red tape. They should be willing to either help directly or to ask someone in your provincial higher education ministry to step in.

Here's how to find your MLA:

The blue pages at the back of your phone book lists government phone numbers for your province. Here you'll find names and numbers for all MLAs (or MNAs, etc.) If you're not sure which is yours, call what seems to be the nearest one and they'll direct you.

 

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 Does Your Case Involve a Defaulted Student Loan?

 

While Student Finance 101 lacks the information to comment (pro or con) about the intervention service offered for money on his site, you can freely benefit from years of forum discussions about defaulted Canadian student loans on this helpful website founded by Mark O'Meara: CanadaStudentDebt.ca

 


How to Avoid Bureaucratic Problems in Future

 

Student Finance 101's Student Loan Advice articles and FAQs can help you avoid bureaucratic sand traps. Here are some examples:

When You Can't Pay

Five Ways to Protect Yourself from Loan Aid Delays

How to Reach the HRSDC Call Centre

When resources allow, Student Finance 101 would like to add even more articles and links to guide people through the bureaucratic maze of Canada's student loans systems. Your suggestions are welcome.

 

(C) 2008-2014 Jeannine Mitchell