The national student loan lack-of-service centre

Op-eds Opinions
Klara Woldenga (Graphic)
Klara Woldenga (Graphic)


Everyone with a student loan has a horror story to tell about dealing with the National Student Loan Service Centre (NSLSC) or as I like to call it, the National Student Loan Lack-of-Service Centre.

They are difficult to deal with at the best of times, but it reached a new level for me after I suffered a stroke in my third year of university.

My stroke left me with significant damage, and I needed to take some time off from school and was unable to work. To apply for repayment assistance and interest relief for my student loans, I needed to phone the NSLSC.

Every time you talk to the NSLSC, you need to rattle off every piece of personal information possible: first and last names, address, postal code, date of birth, Social Insurance Number, date and time of last bowel movement and least favourite non-aquatic African mammal. On this call, I was informed that I needed to apply online; paper copies of the application were no longer being mailed out. I told the agent that due to having suffered a stroke resulting in memory deficits, I would need all of the information she had just told me sent to me in writing. “Can’t you write it down?” she asked. I explained that I have motor planning issues, so it could take me 10 minutes to figure out how to form the letter “L.” After much discussion, I finally convinced her to mail me the instructions on how to apply online.

When I got onto the website, it wasn’t working. I called again, listing off all of my personal information yet again. Their website doesn’t support the Google Chrome browser, and that was why it wasn’t working. I logged back onto the site, using Internet Explorer as a browser. This time it told me that the site was down for maintenance.

I got onto the site later, filled out all of the information about my income (or in my case, lack thereof), and hit submit. A message told me their website was having an issue, and that I needed to phone to speak to someone.

The next morning, when I got someone on the phone, he rattled off very quickly a bunch of things I needed to do to complete my application for interest relief, none of which I caught. I explained to him that because I have had a stroke, I need all of that information sent to me in writing. He said, “As of Monday, we have gone paperless, so that won’t be possible.”

“But I have an acquired brain injury and short-term memory deficits, so I need everything in writing. Surely you can accommodate this special circumstance,” I said. “We have gone paperless, that won’t be possible,” he replied.

I suggested, “How about an email? That would be paperless.”

He responded, “No, we don’t send out emails. Can’t you hire someone to write these things down for you?”

The next day, I got an email from the NSLSC. Yes, an email, telling me I need to phone them immediately. This was Saturday evening. I figured they could wait until Monday.

Monday morning before 8 a.m., my phone rang, waking me up. I let it go to voicemail. It was the NSLSC. They needed me to call them immediately. I begrudgingly called them back. I rattled off the information. People are often shocked that I know my Social Insurance Number by heart. These people clearly don’t have a student loan.

The woman on the phone tapped on a keyboard and then, giggling nervously said, “Oh. Looks like that was an automated message sent out in error. We don’t need to talk to you. Anything else we can help you with today?” I fought the urge to tell her that she was implying that they have ever been helpful. Instead, I hung up the phone and checked my blood pressure. 162/91.

On the bright side, when the stress of dealing with the National Student Loan Lack-of-Service Centre does eventually give me another stroke and kills me, I won’t have to worry about paying them back.