Why Paying Is Important
If you are not in a deferment or forbearance and you stop paying your student loan(s), you first become past due with your servicer(s)/lender(s) and may eventually default on your federal student loan(s). Fortunately, there may still be options available to you.
If you don't make payment arrangements, you may default on your loan(s).
If you default on your loan(s), you lose access to important loan features that could help you manage your debt, such as deferment, forbearance and some repayment plans. Contact your servicer(s)/lender(s) who may be able to help you get back on track.
If you have a FFELP loan(s) you may be able to consolidate in the Direct Consolidation Loan Program. Contact your servicer(s)/lender(s).
If you don't know who your servicer(s)/lender(s) is, go to the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website, which is the central database for all federal student loan information.
Don't Wait to Ask for Help
Even after you miss a payment, you still have options. But the longer you wait to find a solution, the harder it may be to catch up. Contact your servicer(s)/lender(s).
- Assess your budget. Shifting your priorities can help you make your student loan payments. Take control of your budget.
- Lower your monthly payments. Federal student loans feature multiple repayment plans so you can find a solution that fits your situation.
- See if you are eligible for a deferment. You may be able to have your loan payments put on hold. Find out how in our Postpone payments section.
- Ask for a forbearance. A forbearance can temporarily postpone your payments.
Default May Impact Your Financial Health
Depending on the loan type(s) and date on which you received your loan(s), your account can enter default after as few as nine months of missed payments. Some of the consequences of defaulting on a federal student loan(s) include:
- Losing benefits like deferment, forbearance and flexible payment options
- Initiating the administrative wage garnishment process
- The government may seize your tax refund or other government payments
- Your loan balance may increase due to federally mandated collection costs
- The defaulted status may be reported to the national consumer reporting agencies (aka credit bureaus)
- Your loan(s) can be placed with a third-party collection agency
- You can be sued for the entire loan amount
Are You at Risk of Default?
If you don't know the current status of your federal student loan(s), you may already be past due or in default. Contact your servicer(s)/lender(s) to determine the status of your loan(s). If you don't know who your servicer(s)/lender(s) is, go to the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website, which is the central database for all federal student loan information.