New decision life altering

Authority StudentAid BC

Rachel and her four children moved into a transition house for women escaping violent or abusive relationships. There, they could access specialized counselling, education and support programs. Rachel went back to school and four years later graduated with a BSC in nursing. Soon, she ran into financial problems. On top of the obligations of raising a family of five, she was paying back a large student loan plus paying a lawyer to help her secure family maintenance from her ex-husband. Rachel had to use credit cards to meet her obligations and went deeper into debt. She couldn’t recover and filed for bankruptcy. Her student loan was not extinguished and interest continued to grow on that debt. Following her discharge from bankruptcy, Rachel made regular payments on her student debt and thought the loan was in good standing.

Recent graduates of nursing and other medical professions can have their B.C. student loans forgiven by working at publicly funded facilities in underserved communities in B.C. Publicly available information suggested that Rachel would be eligible for loan forgiveness so she left her nursing job in an urban centre and relocated to a rural community considered underserved. Although StudentAid BC’s website and the loan forgiveness application form didn’t state bankruptcy would have any bearing on eligibility for the loan forgiveness, her application was denied because she’d declared bankruptcy. In an impassioned letter requesting reconsideration, Rachel explained her family’s circumstances, “I’m 52 and I owe $72,000 in student loans. I accrue over $300/month interest on this loan”. In a letter to us she said she’d left family and other supports behind in her home community and was now providing an essential service in a community where her position had been difficult to fill. She believed she met all eligibility criteria for loan forgiveness and was bewildered and disappointed when her final attempt to be included in the program was unsuccessful.

We investigated whether StudentAid BC followed a fair process in determining that Rachel was not eligible for loan forgiveness. We reviewed StudentAid BC’s file on Rachel’s loan and we arranged a meeting to discuss Rachel’s complaint. The meeting was postponed at StudentAid BC’s request while it obtained legal advice; subsequently StudentAid BC told us they would refer the matter to a committee for reconsideration. The reconsideration resulted in a decision in Rachel’s favour.

Rachel received a refund of principal and interest she’d paid for the last year and she’ll be eligible for additional loan forgiveness over the next two years. This also improved her eligibility for Federal student loan remission. The total value of the new decision could be more than $50,000 if Rachel continues working in an underserved community and continues meeting other eligibility criteria.

Category Education
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2013
Location Vancouver Island / Sunshine Coast