Can the school send me to collections after they have given me a zero balance receipt before graduation and now they claim I still owe them? 9 Answers as of June 13, 2014

Hi, I have an issue with my former college, which may require legal intervention. I graduated March 2, 2014. The school has policy in its handbook stating transcripts, diplomas, and certification exam funding will not be released until all obligations to the school have been fulfilled. I paid all remaining balances, received a statement showing a zero balance owed after graduating, received my transcripts, diploma, and certification exam funding. May 20, 2014, I received a phone call stating I had an outstanding balance of over $1300. The school stated an audit was done on my account showing I still owed money from a year prior during the spring 2013 semester. Now the school also has a written policy in its' handbook that a student can not register for further classes until financial obligations are fulfilled for each semester. I was obviously able to continue registering for classes after the spring 2013 semester, and paid all required amounts up to graduation. This looks to be an error the school made, but is not holding itself accountable for. They made an error almost a year ago, and didn't catch it until after I had graduated. To me, it is the same as a car dealer contacting you months after buying a car to tell you the invoice was wrong and they realized you owe them more. My "business" transaction with the school ended once I was graduated by the school. They should have fail safes in place to catch these issues BEFORE a student graduates to avoid being in violation of their own policy. Once I received the statement after graduation showing a zero balance, my transcripts, diploma, and certification exam funding, the school was acknowledging I had no further obligations according to its' own policy. They are sending me bills, which I've refused to pay on up to this point, while hitting me with interest charges on the outstanding balance.

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James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C.
James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C. | James T. Weiner
The question is not whether they can send you to collections but do you rightfully owe it... do you? did they make a mistake? If they try to sue you ... you can use the paper that says you are paid in full to justify that you do not owe anything.. but if they can prove a mistake .. or you acknowledge the mistake.. you will probably have to pay.further if you do not pay they will never again release your transcripts, etc. So how much is that worth to you.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/13/2014
Law Office of Peter M. Lively
Law Office of Peter M. Lively | Peter M. Lively
Yes. If the audit is correct that you haven't paid everything on the original sticker-price of your education, then you haven't finished your responsibility under the contract. Moreover, student loan debts are not readily dischargeable in bankruptcy so if you don't resolve this now you may be dealing with a much bigger debt later. Perhaps the school will consider a settlement offer?
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/12/2014
The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
Although they may have made a mistake, if you owe the money then I don't see how you should benefit from a clerical error. I would, however, argue about the penalties and interest they are charging if it is there fault.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/12/2014
Law Office of John C. Farrell, Jr.
Law Office of John C. Farrell, Jr. | John C. Farrell, Jr.
Typically if a zero balance is shown, presumably all affairs are paid up. However, you should be aware of fine print which may address the right for further payments. I would suggest that you have an attorney review the payments agreement and pay off statement.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 6/12/2014
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
You have failed to reveal one thing, was there a mistake in your favor? In that case, if you have not received an actual release from the school, you probably owe them the funds. I would have to look at all of the documents and account records. Is it worth the attorney's fees?
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/12/2014
    Law Office of Linda K. Frieder
    Law Office of Linda K. Frieder | Linda K. Frieder, Esq.
    You can wait until they sue you and deal with it then.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/12/2014
    Patrick W. Currin, Attorney at Law | Patrick Currin
    Their policy and the material they sent you can be evidence that you don't owe the money they are claiming you owe; but if they can prove the mistake was legitimate they can sue to collect until the statute runs.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/12/2014
    Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC | Daniel A. Edelman
    It is not quite the same thing as the car dealer. In the case of the car dealer there is an agreement for a specific amount and you rely on the quoted price by taking the car and not going elsewhere. In the case of the school, there is no agreement for a fixed amount, and I'm not sure that you have relied on the statement that you owe nothing further. Absent such reliance, if you do owe $1300 under the terms of the agreement they may be able to collect it. However, I would not rely on a phone call. I would send a letter to the head of the financial office stating what you have related and asking for documentation of the $1300 and why it was not raised before.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/12/2014
    Law Office of Barry R. Levine | Barry R. Levine, Esq.
    They can because according to them, there is a balance due. On the other hand, you have a statement showing a zero balance. If they refuse to listen, ignore them and their notices. Sending demands does not get them paid. They will have to prove their case in court at which time you would raise the defense of payment in full.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/12/2014
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