My question involves collection proceedings in the State of: Pennsylvania
Hi! I'd love any help I can get. I know you guys are busy, anything and everything would be appreciated, as I'm feeling pretty helpless and hopeless right now.
I originally borrowed around $60,000 in private student loans from Sallie Mae. Nearly all of them are "signature" loans, meaning they have no co-signer. The cosigner on ONE loan is very old and has no income. When I signed for the loans, they said there would be no trouble consolidating them at the end and everything would be fine.
Then, of course, the banks crashed.
Now, even people with good credit have a hard time consolidating loans, and they REFUSE to consolidate. I've gone through every contortion with them and they say my credit isn't good enough and my income isn't high enough. I've looked into outside consolidation firms and heard the same thing.
When I graduated in 2010, I had a hard time finding a job, like most new graduates. The one I found barely paid my rent and bills and food, so I had to go into forbearance. I was in forbearance for a bit over a year before I started paying again. Interest accrued, I'm not sure what the whole debt is now but it's a good deal higher.
I now live in South Korea, working as an English teacher.
The cost of living here is low enough that I can JUST afford to pay what they're asking, but the currency here is declining against the dollar and I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep doing it. There's no way I can get an income-to-cost-of-living ratio this good in the US, but what they're asking is more than $900 a month, which is a bit over half of my salary. HALF of every paycheck goes to them! It seems pretty unfair and totally insane.
I find myself tempted to default and allow them to pursue me and eventually garnish my wages whenever I return to the US. I don't care about my credit as I don't live in the US and nobody here needs it... but I need to ensure that I have no issues visiting home (I don't want to be picked up at the airport and arrested in contempt of court, for example) and renewing my passport. (I've heard of people who evade child support payments not being allowed a passport, I don't know if that would happen here.)
Even at half my salary, I'm in a situation where I could pay 20,000 into this loan and the balance would only go down a few thousand due to the insane highway robbery interest. If I'm going to be a serf forever, I'd lat least like to be a bit more comfortable.
So here's my specific questions:
1. Is there any way I can force them (non-federal, 100% PRIVATE student loans) or convince them to lower my monthly payment to something more appropriate to my income level? It's not like I'm making significant progress on my loans, and I can't afford anything more than the monthly minimum. I can't keep doing this job forever (it's a bit temporary) and I'd like to not be paying half my salary to them forever.
2. Is there any scenario by which a refusal to pay would lead to criminal consequences? (Such as an arrest if I came back, or a denial of a new passport.) Consider that I am unable to show up in court as I live 8000 miles away.
3. Any advice? I would be willing to pay them whatever total they want, I'm resigned to paying them till I drop dead at this point, but I'd like to get to keep a bit more of my money.
4. Can they garnish foreign wages? What happens if I live in the US but have no income?