Author Topic: HELP! DEBT, COLLECTION and INTERNATIONALS  (Read 622 times)

jrig

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
HELP! DEBT, COLLECTION and INTERNATIONALS
« on: January 10, 2019, 07:35:46 AM »
Hey guys,

New user here! Would love some input as I am not sure how to go about this situation. Long story short:

The wife and were in Dallas as students. I am Dutch, she is Brazilian. We both attended university. We were international students. I did my masters(MBA), she her bachelors (Psychology). As Internationals we were very limited as to what work we could legally do, so our families were helping us pay for the tuition. Now in our last semester, my wife’s family suffered a very serious medical emergency and could no longer afford to pay. My family the same. Terrible timing! We talked to the university and they were very gracious. The told us that since we were both almost done, they’d let us complete our studies and pay them off gradually. (Obviously we’d get the diplomas once the balances were cleared).

Now. Right after completing our studies I was able to find a full time job at a church. It didn’t pay well at all. But they wanted to bring my wife and I on staff full time and long term (I was able to do this legally as it was an OPT job). During our OPT year we got pregnant (total surprise) and we were paying around 150-200 dollars a month. Fast forward to the end of the opt year when the church was supposed to apply for a visa change for us, they never did. And having our current visas on the verge of expiration we decided to leave the country as we refused to do any illegal under the table work. Not that the church was advising us to do that, but the fact that they drug out the visa application process that long meant that when our current visas expire we'd have to wait 10-11 months for the new one during which time we would NOT be able to legally work. At that point we had a 4 month old baby and yea, I was not going to do any illegal work, nor did I have cash to live off of during that time because we depleted our saving to BE there those 4 years.

So we moved to Curaçao where I am from. (Dutch territory in the Caribbean). Took me almost a year to find a job. We were not able to pay towards our school balance during that meaning it was sent to collections . My balance of 10.000 was sent to Williams and fudge. Hers was sent to CCA(4000).  We want to clear the balance in the next 10 months. This is our only debt. Salaries here on the island really are not very great (and I have a pretty good job). We want to clear this debt once and for all so we will be living with family rent free for 10 months during which time we plan to attack this balance with a vengeance.  The problem is that I think the max we can probably come up with is around 650-800  a month (totalling 6500-8000).  Bear in mind that my take home  income converted to US Dollars is right around $2000 a month.

Is this  a reasonable amount  that we could offer these collectors?

So to summrize:

1. We are NOT U.S Citizens. We do NOT live in the U.S.
2. Total Balance Owed = approx 14000 (10000 with W&F and 4 with CCA)
3. We've had no contact from the collection agency whatsoever
4. Its been sent to collections over a year ago
5. We have a 10 month window in which we want to clear the debt
6. Probably can only come up with 6500-8000
7. This balance is NOT a Student LOAN. It's just an open standing balance (International student do not get student loans)
8. How do i approach the collection agencies / What strategies

If you've read all of this I THANK YOU!

Hoping to hear from you all!

Josh

SKL-HOU

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 510
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: HELP! DEBT, COLLECTION and INTERNATIONALS
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2019, 07:45:03 AM »
How will you get your diploma once you pay the collection agency? I assume collection agency is NOT associated with the school.

I think most of the time people offer a lump sum reduced amount, not a monthly deal. Why can't you continue to pay them after 10 months? Is there an actual reason other than an arbitrary time limit you set? You owe this money (and potentially some interest on top) and you should take as much time as it takes to pay it off. On the other hand, what is your motivation to even pay it off? To get your diploma that is held hostage or to do the right thing?

jrig

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: HELP! DEBT, COLLECTION and INTERNATIONALS
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2019, 08:07:46 AM »
Thanks for your reply!

Why can't you continue to pay them after 10 months? Well I could. But what Id be able to send monthly wont be of any significance. We have some family that is going to away for those 10 months. Which is why we are getting to stay at their place for 10 months. What we'd be spending on rent +internet is what we would be able to save and send every month. We have a written monthly zero based budget. We are very frugal.

You owe this money (and potentially some interest on top) and you should take as much time as it takes to pay it off. Yep. I agree. It's just that everyone I speak to has been telling me that once a debt is bought from the school (at a much lower amount) you can negotiate with the collection agency. I am not from the states, so how collection agencies work there are completely new to me. Any searches I run about dealing with collections, show that they always settle at a significantly lower amount.

On the other hand, what is your motivation to even pay it off? To get your diploma that is held hostage or to do the right thing? Well probably a mix of all 3. It's to get my diploma. We want to continue on and start building some wealth for our family next year. We'd like to start investing. But before we do we just want our debts cleared.

SKL-HOU

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 510
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: HELP! DEBT, COLLECTION and INTERNATIONALS
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2019, 10:00:59 AM »
In that case, before you do anything, I would call the university and see what you need to do to actually get your diploma. If it is their own collection agency, I can see how paying it/negotiating may help get you the diploma. But if they sold to an outside agency, then they have already written it off so you may be able to get your diploma without doing anything or maybe no chance of getting it even if you pay. Basically, start with the university and find out exactly what you need to do.
As far as settling the debt, you are correct. A lot of people just call them up and offer them a certain amount well below and it is very possible that they will agree to settle for almost half (or even less especially if you make it clear that you don't live in the US so their chance of recovering anything is almost impossible). But it is very important that you get everything in writing so they don't keep coming after you or not meet their end of the bargain once you pay them.

Rosy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2093
  • Location: Florida
Re: HELP! DEBT, COLLECTION and INTERNATIONALS
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2019, 11:46:49 AM »
Speaking with the University first is key to your dilemma. I'd simply call them up and ask them to send you your diploma and listen to what they say.
I'm sure you are not the only student to ever encounter financial difficulties and life's hardships.

I'd thank them that they allowed you to finish school for that last quarter and remind them that you had no payment issues until disaster struck both your families. Tell them that you are now in a slightly better position and with family support you'd like to straighten this matter out once and for all.
A lot depends on whether this debt was written off by the school - they might even ask you to reimburse them for the expenses they incurred administratively in having the matter handled by an outside agency or a couple of hundred dollars as a penalty, after which they release your diploma.

I doubt collection agencies based in the US have any sort of jurisdiction or rights in other countries.
The ethical thing to do is to pay off your debt, but that doesn't mean you should not negotiate the best deal for yourself and your family and offer to pay say 30% of your debt on the spot - they may give you a week to come up with the money for whatever deal you negotiated.
Whatever you do don't put yourself and your family in dire straits to satisfy a collection agency - be realistic.
Just be prepared to start with a low instant pay off offer and negotiate from there - but -  know exactly what the max is that you can truly afford to pay.

Even the well known Christian money guru Dave Ramsey here in the US advocates several strategies on how to deal with collection agencies in his books and probably on his website too. He even provides forms to use - so you have documentation, you need written proof that the debt is paid in full.

Mr. Ramsey also mentions in his money teachings on how to get out of debt, that in most cases and in most states it is possible to be legally free of the debt if the debt is over three years old and the collection agency has not been able to locate your whereabouts or contacted you during that time.
It does ruin your credit and will show up on your US credit report for seven years or so even if you negotiated a deal for payoff and they don't always update your records like they should. You may shrug that off or monitor it online and send the credit bureau a letter asking for a correction of your file if necessary - but to do so, you need written proof, copies of payment etc.

So there is a time limit of three years of which just over one year has already passed - worth looking into - google is your friend.

In other words, once you contact them (the collection agency), a new three year period begins again before a final write off.
Debt write offs are not uncommon, but be very careful in your dealings with a collection agency and insist on everything in writing - e-mail confirmation of the agreed upon final pay off etc. Make good notes on who you spoke to and when.

I think it speaks in your favor that you paid your University fees all along and while it is unfortunate that you could not fund the last quarter I'd think it would be quite harsh of the University not to release your diploma.
$hit happens and then you pick yourself back up and sort it all out - good luck to you! Keep us posted on the results!

 

 

jrig

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: HELP! DEBT, COLLECTION and INTERNATIONALS
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2019, 12:10:29 PM »
Hi Rosy,

Thanks for your reply.
Speaking with the University first is key to your dilemma. I'd simply call them up and ask them to send you your diploma and listen to what they say.
I'm sure you are not the only student to ever encounter financial difficulties and life's hardships.
- I called them and all I am getting from them is basically "deal with the collection agency now" or " You will be eligible to receive your diploma once the balance is paid in full. So youre saying then to just confirm with the school if the balance was written off by them. I assume it is because I got an e-mail from the school last march that says " At this time, your account does not have any additional fees because it was just recently sent to the agency.  If after 90 days, a payment is not received, it will be forwarded on to another agency and a fee will be assessed."


Mr. Ramsey also mentions in his money teachings on how to get out of debt, that in most cases and in most states it is possible to be legally free of the debt if the debt is over three years old and the collection agency has not been able to locate your whereabouts or contacted you during that time.
I have heard about this but i dont think id feel right about that, EVEN THO I have no need for any kind of credit score in the U.S. I just know I cannot come up with the full amount as like i said, being in the states as full time students ate away at our savings and we are now building our lives back up.

And whatever we pay, is not going to be a lump sum. We don't have any lump sum now. The most we could possible do probably around 1000 or so upfront and then 600-750 a month after that for 10 months. UNLESS they agree  to the lump sum at the end of the year ( Which I assume wont work)