I was a student doing a Masters program in the US for 2 years. On completion of which, I came back to my home country to work before pursuing further studies.
During my time there, I had a $5000 credit card, that was used for tuition and sundry expenses. I did make preliminary payments, but still have around $ 4300 balance to pay, when I had to leave the country, couldn’t make more payments towards the account.
On returning to my native country in 2009, I couldn’t find a job that would help pay off the debts. Recently, I’ve learned that the debt has gone to the collections agency. I’ve got a job now that pays around $350/month and want to make payments.
At the same time, I’m interested in pursuing my doctoral degree in the US sometime in the next 2 years
How can I pay off my debt without going to court and will it pose problems while applying for further studies to the US?
Congratulations on completing your studies and intending to pursue a doctoral degree. I’m sure this pesky credit card debt is the last thing you want to be dealing with as you ready yourself for further schooling. Here’s what I would be looking at if you walked into my office…
It is important to determine the statute of limitations on the debt. This essentially means how long a creditor or debt collector can wait to sue you on an old debt. Each state has a different statute of limitations and sometimes the statute of limitations is different for the type of debt. I can tell you that in California there is a four year statute of limitations for a debt based on a written agreement. If your debt happens to be past the statute of limitations in your state then be very careful about paying a debt collector as that might restart the statute of limitations.
If your debt is not past the statute of limitations then you can definitely settle the account outside of court. You can try to contact the debt collector on your own and see what type of payment arrangement they will agree to. Or you could hire an attorney to do this on your behalf. Just make sure that you get any agreement in writing. You would be surprised how often people arrange to settle an account and then have the creditor go back on the terms they agreed to.
In response to your other questions, I cannot say for certain if it will impact your desire for further studies. But in my opinion it should not. One past due credit card, with a low balance, from a few years back really won’t raise any red flags. Moreover, your desire to rectify the situation demonstrates that you are responsible and I think you could definitely explain your situation reasonably to anyone who asked about it. Good luck!
Jeremy Golden, Esq. is one of the resident debt experts here at GetOutOfDebt.org that helps people for free. Jeremy is a consumer rights attorney licensed to practice in California. He represents individuals in cases against debt collectors for violations of the FDCPA. He also focuses on defending people in collection cases who have been sued by their creditors or debt- buyers. In the last five years he has won at trial or obtained a dismissal in over 200 collection cases. Recently he was voted one of San Diego’s Top Attorneys in the field of Consumer Law by SDMetro Magazine. His website is
Legal Disclaimer: This is for educational purposes only. It is not to be relied upon as legal advice. It also does not create an attorney-client relationship. No such relationship is formed with attorney without a written agreement.
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