Get Out of Debt Guy

Van Ru is Still Chasing Me for My Federal Student Loans

Posted March 28

Question:

Dear Steve,

Well I went to school for Commercial Illustration back in about 2000. I didn’t feel right about the large amount of loans they were giving me but I really wanted to be an illustrator, so I gritted my teeth and bared it.

The few grants I did get started to dwindle more and more each year, while tuition kept going up almost every year since this school had a bad habit of buying properties around the city to add to their “campus”.

Before long I was unable to continue and had to drop out before getting my degree. I still owed the school of course somewhere around $9,000 by the end of it.

At first I paid diligently. The payments seemed fair about $100/month and I usually tried to send $150. And at first they would send me regular letters showing me my balance. After awhile though I would notice that my balances didn’t seem to be going down. Little to no change would take place over multiple letters. I called in to see what the problem was and they told me that interests is accrued daily on loans. Which didn’t make much sense to me. I sent money a few more times but the problem persisted and so I stopped paying. That’s when the phone calls started, once again I explained why and the person on the other end slowly convinced me (over multiple calls) that paying what I owed was the more sensible action and assured me that the problem would be rectified.

I started paying again but this time I wasn’t getting any letters back like I was before. Come to find out they had sent my account to a company called Van Ru.I’ve been dealing with these people for nearly 15 years now! They have garnished my wages as much as $300/month for 3 years at one point, intercept my federal income tax check (usually around $700 back per year) and for about the last 5 or so years (hard to keep track of time at this point) have been taking my State income tax check as well as my federal.

I got the first bit of garnishment stopped only for them to try again a few years later where once again they are taking $150 per paycheck, $300/ month. I can’t get them to give me a balance. I can’t believe I still owe these people anything after all this time. They have received their money by now I’m sure of it but I can’t prove it conclusively. When I check the NDIS website it shows I owe like $4000 but I also hear that they don’t update the information if you’ve been not paying for a certain period of time. Calling the Dept of Education only makes them refer you back to Van Ru. I just don’t know what to do.

How do I get a balance from these people number one?

How can I verify that what they give me is accurate number two and if it is how do I pay these people in a way that diminishes my debt once and for all. I’m just sick and tired of all this.

Dwayne

Answer:

Dear Dwayne,

Trying to make sense out of this without good information is frustrating for you for sure.

You did provide enough information to me to recognize these are federal student loans we are talking about.

If you’ve had an administrative wage garnishment and a tax refund intercept then it is clear your federal student loans were reported as being at least 270 days delinquent. That’s generally the trigger for default.

When you fall behind and your loans default the balance can increase by as much as 20% in additional collection fees and penalties. And of course the unpaid interest continues to build as well. So while you feel you’ve paid them back, the amount you owe may have grown to a point where you owe twice as much as you may assume.

One of the best approaches to tackling a situation such as yours with federal student loans is through rehabilitation. Please read The Easiest Way to Stop a Student Loan Wage Garnishment – Loan Rehabilitation for details.

This approach will stop the wage garnishment, get your account out of collections, get you a new loan, and put you on a more affordable repayment program. And it will prevent further tax refund intercepts.

Steve Rhode
Get Out of Debt Guy

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About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.