Education
5:29 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Debt collectors pursue more unpaid student loans in Michigan

Michigan students who default on their college loans are more likely to be sued in federal court.

That's according to a Syracuse University study, which shows the eastern half Michigan has the second highest rate per-capita of suits against students who don't pay their loans.

Dorothy Barrick is with GreenPath Debt Solutions of Farmington Hills.  She says ignoring the debt just makes things worse.

"It's usually the collectors that the debt falls to, and they can be pretty mean," Barrick says. "And once it's with the collection agency, I can understand why they're afraid to call."

Barrick says students who are unemployed or underemployed need to call their lender and ask for a hardship forbearance.

She says by the time a student is sued for nonpayment, the lender has exhausted all other possibilities, including wage garnishment.

Barrick says planning for college should begin when a student is a freshman or sophomore in high school. She says students and their parents should be realistic about how much they can afford, and borrow only to pay tuition and room  and board.

Barrick says she often encounters students -- and, in some cases, parents -- who've taken out federal student loans to pay for extras, like dining out, recreation and vacations.