My question involves education law in the State of: Utah
I apologize if this is the wrong forum, if so please be so kind as to redirect me. I apologize also as this is a complicated situation, but I will try to be as brief as possible.
I had to drop out of college courses mid term in 2016 due to a health crisis. I received a settlement offer at the end of last year from the Dept of Education requesting I pay $278.34 by Dec. 31st 2018, owed to the college from 2016. As I was already actively paying back the college on an unsub loan for the same year with a balance remaining of $296.59, I was confused why I received the bill.
I tried to call the Dept of Education, but due to long hold times and my work hours I had to hang up each time. I called the school and asked them why I received the bill and if there was a problem with my payment arrangement. She said no, but that she didn't see a signed promise to pay agreement on file and that I needed to sign one and send it back to stop automatic collections on older balances, even though my payments were on time. I immediately signed the agreement and emailed it back. I called and she confirmed it was received and said I should not have any further problems.
Then I got a bill from a collection agency saying I owe $829.30 for the same bill. I called the collection agency and explained I have a current payment arrangement with the college and was assured this would not go to collections. He explained this was a bill for a separate pell grant and not the unsub loan I was paying. I hung up and tried calling the Dept of Education but it redirected my account back to the collection agency. I then called the school and after speaking with her manger and pulling all my 2016 records, she stated that I did have a pell grant that was sent back to the Dept of Education. She apologized saying she didn't know why they didn't request I pay them back directly.
I then wrote a letter of explanation to the Dept of Education and apologized for the misunderstanding, explained the confusion and requested that they respectfully accept my payment in full for the settlement amount previously sent to me, and they cashed the check. I thought everything was settled until I received a bill from a collection agency for the remaining balance.
I sent them a letter explaining that this was paid in full to the Dept of Education directly. Then I got a letter from the Dept of Education saying I sent them a voluntary payment towards the balance. I responded that it wasn't a voluntary payment, but a request to accept my payment if full, and that the check said paid if full with the account number and I included a copy of the agreement request that was included as proof. I explained had this not been agreeable they should have returned the check to me and redirected me to the collection agency for assistance. They then acknowledged they got the letter and cashed the payment but stated it was not in their benefit to accept the terms of the agreement so they didn't, they just accepted it as a payment and it doesn't matter if the check was conditionally endorsed, I still owe the full balance!
Can they accept my payment, acknowledging it came with specific terms to settle the bill in full and then say it doesn't matter I still have to pay the full balance? Is this legal? Do I have any legal recourse?
I appreciate your time and efforts in advance!