RICHMOND, Va. — College students in Virginia who fall behind on tuition payments can have a hard time digging out thanks to a state law that pushes unpaid bills into the hands of private collection agencies.

The Washington Post reported Sunday (http://wapo.st/2wwWou8 ) that a little-known Virginia law requires public colleges to turn over unpaid accounts of less than $3,000 to private debt collectors if they are 60 days past due.

The debt collectors can add a 30 percent fee to the unpaid account.

George Mason University in Fairfax, the state’s largest university, estimated about 1 percent of student accounts are sent to collections.

Del. Marcus Simon, a Democrat from Falls Church, said in a Facebook post Sunday he will seek a legislative fix to ease the burden on students who fall behind.