Debt question with a university (not a federal loan)

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-20-2012
Debt question with a university (not a federal loan)
Fri, 04-20-2012 - 9:34am

I have been contacted from an agency about a debt at an old university that I attended in 2000, since this isn't a student loan it doesn't have the same treatment and is more like traditional debt.

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
There used to be a folder that laid out statute of limitations and how to ask for a validation of debt, but it appears they have gotten rid of that folder as a resource. Basically, the statute of limitations starts at the last activity on the account, basically the last time you made a payment on the account. If you have been contacted by an agency that's not where the original debt was taken out of, you should ask them for a validation of debt, showing that they own the debt and that you in fact owe the debt. I will dig around and see if I can find a thread tomorrow with language you can use for that purpose. You can essentially ask for that and if they cannot provide it to you showing that yu owe the debt, do not pay them, the original debtor could come back at another time to pursue it. It does look like you are way over the statute of limitations and likely if challenged they would not sue you, they are trying to scare you not paying them. You can always offer a settlement to pay off this debt, but that is up to you to decide. HTH, feel free to ask more questions.
Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004

Hey Sanchez,

Do yourself a big favor and go to and get your report from Transunion. This is free. Just pull one because you can go back quarterly and pull the other two agencies.

You won't get a credit score but you'll be able to see anything that's on there as a debt whether or not it's in collections.

If it's NOT on your credit report there's a couple things I'd tell you to do:

First, contact the university directly (not the person who says they are collecting) and ask for someone who can tell you if there is a bill under your name. This is to be sure you're not being scammed by someone.

Secondly, if there is a bill, ask if they can verify they have turned it over to someone else for collection or if they are collecting. See if they can provide a phone number and address if not a name of a person.

If it's legitimate, yes, they can come after you after all these years for their money. Here's probably what happened: they lost track of you for a while and either you never borrowed money or took out a credit card for all this time so they never caught up with you. Or, you got yourself a great new job and are now registering payments on other accounts or new credit and they have looked at your credit report and said "aha! He's Baaaaaack!"

If you legitimately owe the debt talk directly to the university collector. Ask for IN WRITING:

a)An itemized bill of what you owe.

b)A detailed description of any penalities, late fees, or charges.

c)How and Where payments must be made.

Then, sit down and push the pencil. How much could you pay them each month without fail? Once you know this amount write them a letter stating you acknolwedge the debt and are willing to pay X each month starting next month. Send it Certified Mail.

Regardless of their response you will send that amount each month on the date specified. Do not send them "extra" on any month or panic and send them a bigger amount than you can actually afford. Keep making those payments per your letter.

They may still take you to court or threaten to sue you, but you will have a paper trail of payment and it will be harder for them to tell a judge you are a deadbeat.

Good luck.

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Here is the link to the thread about debt validations letters, it has a bit of an explanation and a sample letter that may assist you:
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
As Tracey indicated, you could be beyond the statue of limitations if you have not had any contact on this debt over 10 years, and after 7 it probably dropped off your credit report.
One thing about making arrangements to pay it off, you now brought it back to the forefront of your credit report and it will take 7 years for it to fall off, even if you do pay in full, unless they agree in writing to delete it.
If this is a substantial amount, you might want to talk to an attorney for some advice, it may be worth the fee.
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-06-2006
Character has no statute of limitations, nor does honor.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2012

If you've tried lowering your payments and the other repayment options are not working for you and you simply unable cannot make payments, request a forebearance or deferral on your loans. This will temporarily suspend your payments for a time that you and the lender will discuss. During a forebearance or deferral period you can pay off other higher-interest debts or help you through a period of unemployment, a common problem for graduates.