The Attorney General of Pennsylvania has recalled more than $18 million in student fees that are owed to the state from private collection agencies that were working the accounts and announced that the Commonwealth will no longer send unpaid student fees to for-profit agencies and attempts by a university to send such fees to such agencies “before more consumer-friendly efforts are attempted” will not be approved.
The fees in question are usually tied to unpaid tuition or student activity fees and are separate from student loans. Unpaid fees owed to state colleges and universities in Pennsylvania are turned over to the Attorney General’s office for collection. In the past, those accounts were then placed with private collection agencies to attempt to recover the unpaid debts. The AG’s office said it will work with individuals to set up payment plans and that it will now accept personal checks from individuals making payments on their debts. Previously, payments had to be made via a money order or cashier’s check.
“Our goal is to make it easier for Pennsylvanians to improve their lives through college — not send them to collections, hurt their credit, and prohibit them from making themselves whole by forcing them to pay by cashier’s checks and money orders,” said AG Josh Shapiro, in a statement. This “announcement is just one step towards easing the financial burden on Pennsylvania’s students, and there will be more to come.”
The $18 million is owed by 4,760 former students who attended one of 14 state-owned colleges and universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.