Last year I took out a fat, hefty PLUS loan from Citizen's Bank for my daughter's education through American Education Services (AES). I paid her loan, plus a PLUS loan for my son, on the 20th of each month at the AES website.

When I tried to make the October payments, only my son's loan was available on the AES site. My daughter's had vanished. Thinking the missing loan was a technical burp, I paid my son's PLUS loan and figured I'd wait a couple days before trying to pay my daughter's again.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I normally set up the payments about a week ahead of the due date. This time, I forgot. And to be doubly honest, even if I had remembered I was planning to schedule them for payment on the 22nd, two days past due. That was payday. I had other large automatic payments scheduled the same week and I didn't want to risk overdrawing the account. It was a perfect financial storm. When I realized I'd forgotten to schedule the payments, it was Saturday the 24th.

On that same Saturday, a letter dated October 19 arrived from the US Department of Education. It explained why my daughter's PLUS loan had vanished. Uncle Sam was now servicing the loan. A new payment schedule was included, with payments beginning on November 20. There was an "estimated unpaid interest" amount which I attributed to interest piling up until the new schedule went into effect. I figured it was Uncle Sam's backdoor income for taking on the loan. As I didn't have a payment due until November 20, I paid other bills.

This weekend the November billing statement arrived, and when I opened it I damned near fell off my chair. The payment was twice the normal size. Looking closely, I saw that I was a month past due. Past due on the account I tried to pay online at AES, but couldn't because Uncle Sam now owned the loan. The very loan with a repayment schedule beginning November 20. The very loan for which I was now staring at my first Gubbermint account statement. With a big, fat past due amount.

I scrambled to the FedLoan Website and set up a new online account. I wrote them a note voicing my displeasure over the poor communication.

And now, here I am, 17 days late and facing a double payment on a loan I didn't know Uncle Sam owned until the new repayment schedule arrived.

Am I partly responsible?

Yes. Had I remembered to schedule my payment a week ahead of time, as I normally do, I'd have likely been fine, even if I scheduled the payments for the 22nd.

But the confusing paperwork and its lateness in arriving do make me wonder just how much fun Gubbermint-run health care will be if we get it.

Frankly, it scares the crap out of me.

I envision layers and layers of bureaucracy around the simplest hangnail removal.

Take-a-number-please attitudes from disinterested government workers.

Piles and piles of red tape.

Dead people getting the OK for surgery while live people wait in line.

Government eyes on our health records.

Government laptops with our medical histories going missing.

It's going to get real interesting down the road, isn't it kids?

Bureaucracy: A Love Story
Just a few layers of bureaucracy, folks...

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