While I was eating lunch and checking my emails, I found that my financial aid was being revised for the upcoming spring 2017-18 semester. Apparently I missed some child support payments on a kid I didn’t have.
The email was sent from the financial aid office simply informed me my award was changing. It said, “The financial aid office has been informed of your “delinquent obligor status; therefore, your financial aid has been revised to exclude state financial aid as is required by Wisconsin statute.”
I was shocked and couldn’t begin to imagine what that meant. I went through my head trying to think of things like parking tickets or even an accident I was involved with back in September. But all the tickets were paid for, and I wasn’t at fault for the accident.
So, I wondered how I could’ve been considered “delinquent”. I called the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Financial Aid Office on campus and re-read the email to the staff member working at the desk and asked what it meant.
She said, “It says here you have been red flagged for a couple missing child support payments.” I told her that was a huge mistake because I was 110 percent sure I was not the father of any children. She agreed it was odd that this could have happened since my social security number was linked to my financial aid.
She told me they were simply following orders that the state had given them and that I would have to call the State Department of Higher Education to straighten it out. They only execute the actions given to them and unless the department says otherwise, they can’t give me back my financial aid award.
With the semester starting in a couple weeks I was panicking. How much would I be losing? I cant spare a cent. I work 50 hours a week in the summer across multiple jobs and that’s still not enough to pay for my education on its own. With all that, I still have to work full time during the school year.
The FA staff member was nice enough to give me the exact number of the department personnel that could help me, unfortunately the staff member of the department was gone for the day.
I left two voicemails, one right when I called and one- two hours later incase the woman I was calling had just gotten back. I tracked down an email address on the departments website and left a lengthy email informing the woman of my circumstance.
The evening came, and I still hadn’t heard back. I knew I only had one more day before everybody would be off for the weekend. You can imagine I slept great knowing I might have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for the semester.
As soon as I woke up Friday morning, I called the number again and the woman picked up.
She said she had read the email and listened to my voicemail and like the woman in the financial aid office, agreed this was odd. However, she informed me that this was out of her hands. She only gives the order to the financial aid office, and I needed to call the county in which it happened.
So I called the Financial Aid office, they say call the state department. I call the state department, they cant do anything and tell me to call the county.
In my head I screamed “How do I call the county if I don’t even know why this happened to me?”
At this point my friends and roommates started cracking jokes about me being a father and presenting me with fake father of the year awards and sending me pictures of “best dad in the world” mugs.
The receptionist at the Wood County Child services that answered the phone connected me directly to the Deputy Director.
The case was actually in Milwaukee County and she too found it strange that my name wasn’t on the file, but the social security number was, and that number matched everything else in the state system.
She said what most likely happened was a typing error and that somebody didn’t confirm the name to the SSN. When the SSN was put into the system it red flagged my name thus causing the department to revoke my financial aid.
She emailed me a formal letter that stated I had no outstanding child support which I took to the UWSP Financial aid office to get back my much-needed financial support for the current semester.
I sighed in relief after two days of complete stressing that my financial backing would be lost because somebody being a negligent father in another county.
The moral of the story is: ask questions. If you are confused about Financial Aid, do not wait. Go talk to the people in the FA offices in the Student Services Center. They can even help verify you don’t have kids you aren’t aware of.