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Help Me Hank

Help Me Hank! Student loan surprise

Cara, Chloe and Colton, they're Laura's life now. Much different than when she was in college.
Laura Werlinger, former student
"It was such a crazy time."
Now Laura is splitting her days between the family and her outside accounting job.
Laura Werlinger, former student
"I love math, I love numbers."
But she does use her accounting skills at home, keeping careful track of the student loans she's paying back. She's so careful, that's why she couldn't believe she forgot to make a payment on one.
But a collection letter reminded her! It said she owed almost $1200 to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. Instantly Laura sent two certified bank checks to the state's collection agency to pay off the debt .
Laura Werlinger, former student
"We're done, it's over with."
But then came income tax time and instead of the refund check she expected from the state, she got this tax intercept notice. It said the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education had taken it all.
Laura Werlinger, former student
"I was infuriated."
She called the collection agency, but they insisted they had passed her payment on to the state. So she called the number on the tax notice to complain, but no one returned her calls.
Laura Werlinger, former student
"I was at my wits end and I e-mailed Help Me Hank."
We know how state-funded student loans work in Massachusetts. If you don't pay, the Department of Revenue is allowed to grab the amount due from your tax refund.
But Laura paid in full!
So what went wrong? We showed Laura's proof of payment to state officials and not only did they find her deposit in the state's account, they admitted this wasn't the first time such a thing happened.
Turns out a glitch by the collection agency meant the state never knew the payment was received.  Hey we said, please redo that math, and soon the DOR returned her refund. And with all accounting back to normal Laura bought her kids a brand new swing set.
Laura Werlinger, former student
"I was very happy."

(Copyright 2008 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)