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Is there a statute of limitations for tuition debt collection? Do I need to hire a lawyer to get them to stop?

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: February 22, 2014
Question:

I attended the University of Arkansas in 2006 before leaving and moving to WA. I took out a private student loan (cosigned by my grandmother) in early 2007 to pay the past due tuition of 15050, which I have been making regular payments on since. The check was mailed directly to me and not the school. I didn’t have a job or a bank account at the time so I signed the check so my mother could deposit it into her account and pay the University of Arkansas. A couple years ago I got a notice saying I still owed the past due tuition of $15050. I made a few payments after threats to send me to collections. The last payment I sent was 8/15/12. Also my parents filled for bankruptcy in 2009. Today I got a letter saying a still owe $14400. Is there a statue of limitations on this debt?

Christopher A. Benson’s Answer:

I’m going to address your question from a bankruptcy point of view. There is a high probability that your student loan is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. So, that route may not resolve your present issue. Here is why:

Certain types of debt are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. 11 USC 523 set out exceptions to bankruptcy discharge. Below is the part of the law that is relevant to your question. Make sure you pay attention to the “or” language.

11 U.S.C. §523 – Exceptions to Discharge
(a) A discharge under section 727, 1141, 1228(a), 1228(b), or 1328(b) of this title does not discharge an individual debtor from any debt—
. . .
(8) unless excepting such debt from discharge under this paragraph would impose an undue hardship on the debtor and the debtor’s dependents, for—
(A)

  1. an educational benefit overpayment or loan made, insured, or guaranteed by a governmental unit, or made under any program funded in whole or in part by a governmental unit or nonprofit institution; or
  2. an obligation to repay funds received as an educational benefit, scholarship, or stipend; or

(B) any other educational loan that is a qualified education loan, as defined in section 221(d)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, incurred by a debtor who is an individual; . . .

Here are some good articles on the subject:

The Student Loan Bubble: How the Mortgage Crisis Can Inform the Bankruptcy Courts, 6 Alb. Govt’ Rev. 179, Andrew Woodman (2013).
Ending Student Loan Exceptionalism: The Case for Risk-Based Pricing and dischargeability, 126 Harv. L. Rev. 587, Note (2012).
“Loan Monitor Is Accused of Ruthless Tactics on Student Debt”, Natalie Kitroeff, New York Times, Jan. 1, 2014.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More