I was not familiar with this term; however, an ombudsman is an appointed neutral party who acts as an internal auditor of sorts, investigating internal matters based on complaints from external consumers or whistleblowing from internal employees with concerns of ethics and actual practices of stated organizational policy. At least that's what it appears to be. In theory, an ombudsman is to maintain absolute confidentiality when it comes to matters of investigation and complaints.
The US Dept of Edu's Office of Federal Student Aid has an Ombudsman's Office, which is less than ten years old. Their website says that they "will informally conduct impartial fact-finding...recommend solutions...(but lack) the authority to reverse decisions". My main concern is that the Ombudsman's Office is a part of the Dept of Edu, not apart from. Call me paranoid, but I was hesitant to contact the Ombudsman's Office because I was afraid that they would not be impartial and objective; rather I feared that they would be biased toward the agency that funds them. Silly me.
Last night, I thought about this matter more so. I thought about how it is a governmental office, which in theory is for the people, by the people, and of the people. I thought about how even if they are extremely biased toward the Dept of Edu, I ought to exhaust every avenue and all my options. I thought about how I know that I have a legitimate case, that is authentic, that is complex on so many levels. I thought about how the Ombudsman's Office ought to be made aware of certain practices within the Dept of Edu and how if they are not aware, then they cannot hope to police, investigate, and improve the policies and practices. I thought about how I ought not to be so negative and that they deserve to hear my story too.
So, last night, I bit the bullet. I submitted an online request for assistance with my discharge of student loans due to total and permanent disability resolution to the US Dept of Edu's Federal Student Aid Ombudsman's Office. I edited the aforementioned letter to fit the 2000 character-limitation for the "description of the problem" and hit submit. Through the magic of the internet, I received a confirmation of submission and a confirmation of receipt within mere moments in my eMail. Then, earlier today, I received a voice-mail message which stated that I've already been assigned a caseworker, who has already begun to research my situation. I admit that surprise doesn't even begin to adequately describe my reaction. Shock, breathless hope, fervent compilation of records, terrible anxiety, and increased amplification of the head-noise are mixing together and I fear even to think on the matter, because I might jinx it; but, decided to blog because this is such a consuming matter and I can't not think of it. I simply can't. Dare I hope that justice will prevail? i feel i am a trainwreck waiting to happen.
or in progress.