Can a company send my tuition reimbursement to collections?

I owe my former employer around $7500 in tuition reimbursement for leaving the

company within a year of being reimbursed. Before I quit, I called and spoke

with HR and they advised me that they work with you on a payment plan and I

wouldn’t be responsible for paying it back immediately. After I quit, I received a letter stating I needed to pay it in full immediately. I have been emailing with HR and they offered me $1500 a month for 5 months which is way more than I can afford as a single mom. I wrote back and advised about my HR call and that I could do $315/month for 24 months. I sent my first payment last month. They still have yet to deposit my check and are telling me that if I don’t pay the full $1500 by the 9th, they are sending this to collections. Can they do this legally? This is going to ruin my credit. Our contract is very vague and does not state that it needs to be paid back in a certain amount of time. I’ve been trying to pay this in good faith but they won’t budge.

Asked on September 6, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF you have to repay it due to leaving employment too soon, as appears to be the case from what you write, they are entitled to all it *immediately*: the contract does not have to say that this is the case, since the law does (if you breach or violate an agreement and owe someone money, you have to pay it all at once). While they could voluntarily give you a payment plan or let you pay over time, this is voluntary--they don't have to do it. Therefore, if they are not satisfied with what you offer to pay, they can send the matter to collections  or sue you. It doesn't matter if you can't afford to pay it or not, or if it will ruin your credit--the law lets them insist on payment in full at once.


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