Abroad + a loan (Buddy Advocacy?)

Sending hellos and solidarity from the UK where I live with my partner, and somewhat COVID-stranded after completing my PhD (uncertain if I will ever make it back to east coast US). I took out a Sallie Mae loan in 2013 for my MA at a UK uni (which led to the PhD, and I was able to make a few payments at the beginning of 2015 with my PhD stipend), but since 2018, have been in forebearance (as was full-time in studies, and couldn’t refinance when I actually had some semblance of income) and now graduated, have to deal with this again, and presently in COVID-forebearance (where I have to call Sallie Mae EVERY MONTH to request this).

The last call to renew the forebearance doesn’t appear to have worked, so I think I’m about to default on payment this month, and nerve-wrecked by that… all of this is also being managed with a time difference, exchange rates, money-transfers and google calls with stomach-heart in my mouth speaking to some cool-toned rep. I’m trying to work out whether I can have a rate reduction plan at all OR what happens if I don’t pay because I can’t. My US bank accounts are nearly emptied (there were a few auto-debits that happened without my knowdge earlier this year) and visa application stress adds to the pile.

I don’t know who else has some expertise in what to do (besides breathe), and who else is also dealing with a US loan whilst they are living abroad (as a freelancer in COVID times, I’m simply glad I’m able to get food on the table and a clean place to stay). Have been thinking that sometimes having a buddy in this is the only way to stay sane, and courageous, so glad to find this community, but also uncertain whether there’s any interest in actually helping advocate for each other with lenders, or …? (whether the collective is resolutely against communication/negotiation with lenders??)

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Good to hear from you, please join us via Zoom?

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Thanks Laurel - I can’t tell when and what time based on your post…(I’ll hv to factor in 8h time difference.) :slight_smile:


Happy to hear you’re well, in spite of all this!

I took a loan for my MFA in the US and came back to Brazil. The exchange rate made it impossible for me to pay, so I never even applied for forebearance, because I know that isn’t viable with Brazilian money. All I can tell you is that it took them 2 years before hiring a collection agency, so do know they will come after you at some point, and collection agencies are aggressive. I’ve been trying to negotiate a viable amount to pay for almost a year now. For several months they would communicate with me daily and threaten me with a possible lawsuit. After some time I hired a lawyer to talk to them directly because it was driving me crazy to communicate daily with no results whatsoever. Since my lawyer started conversations, they remained irreducible, and only a few weeks later, they ceased communications with him for a couple of months. They now resumed negotiations, but we haven’t been able to make an offer they will accept so far. What I learned from all this is that yes, they can probably sue you mostly anywhere in the world, if you’re not hiding (how they will do that will depend on where you are) but that takes time and money. Possibly more than you owe, so I like to think they will rather come into an agreement. So far, besides adding A LOT of stress to already stressful times nothing really happened. I’m still hopeful I will find a way through this…Hope you do too!

Hey, I am in a situation that would be comparable (were it not far worse). I cannot offer advice but if you want, I can share my experience and answer specific questions about going into default with them. My email address is jkharvey45@gmail.com

I planned to retire abroad but now I wonder. The debt is over my head, too. from Wendy

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