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How to deal with banks when you can’t make payments?


I’ll try to be brief. I am a German citizen and have been in the US for the past seven years on a student visa. I received BS and MS degrees here. My visa is about to expire and I am about to leave the States since my visa is about to expire. I am about $30,000 in debt (credit cards, bank loan, car loan, and motorcycle loan). There is a good chance I’ll be back in the States this August to start a PhD program on a full fellowship. If this is the case, then I’ll be able to pay off the debt, albeit very slowly. However, I won’t able able to make any payments until I start the program, i.e. for the next four months.

How do I go about dealing with that? Should I send a letter to the banks/credit card companies and explain the situation? What will be their response? There’s not much that they can do since all the loans except for the car are unsecured (the motorcycle is not worth much, having been in a crash) but I still wonder what is the right way to approach this situation, and what is the way banks deal with such situations. My credit so far is perfect in the sense that I have never had a late payment, over the limit, repossession, bankruptcy, etc.

Any advice or links to helpful websites is appreciated.

I would explain it in writing to the individual companies, just as you explained it here. Send the letters certified, so they have to sign for them and must acknowledge receipt. Keep copies of everything, including the receipts for mailing. That way, they know that you know that they were notified of the situation.