This post in collaboration with Paul Brian.
Believe it or not, student loans are one of the most secured loans a lender can issue. In the vast majority of cases, student loans cannot be discharged under bankruptcy protection, nor can they be negotiated away under a debt settlement program. If you have one, you will satisfy the terms, there’s simply no escaping it.
Here’s what happens if you default on a student loan.
First, What Constitutes Default?
The exact conditions of a default vary a bit from lender to lender, but in the case of Federally backed student loans, nine months of missed payments will get your student loan classified as being in default. It could also be found to be in default if you violate some other aspect of the loan agreement, or got the loan under fraudulent circumstances.
If any of the above happens, you’ll experience the following.
1. Forfeiture of All Loan Benefits
The loan will become due and payable immediately—including interest payments and late fees (if any). You will not qualify for loan forgiveness, deferment or forbearance. If you decide to go back to school and have a loan in default, you can forget about all forms of financial aid.
2. Assignment to a Collection Agency
Get ready for incessant phone calls, text messages and emails. These people have an uncanny knack for knowing the most inopportune moment to contact you and hound you mercilessly (while staying well within legal bounds) until you agree to a plan to repay the loan and stick to it. You can also be taken to court in extreme situations.
3. A Negative Entry on Your Credit Report
The default will be reported to the credit agencies, which will pull down your credit score significantly. A huge part of your credit score (35 percent) is loan payment history. A default on your record will pretty much wipe that category out. This will make it difficult for you to get a mortgage, rent an apartment, buy a car, get insurance and in some cases, even get a job.
4. Wage Garnishment
If your lender takes you to court and gets a judgment against you, the court will order your wages garnished until the amount of the loan (as well as fees and interest) is paid. This will mean an embarrassing situation at work and a large portion of your income will go straight to paying off the loan—before you ever see it.
If you’re concerned you might be about miss payments, contact your lender at once and try to work out some sort of an arrangement to help you stay on track. If you have a Federal loan, you might qualify for forbearance or a deferment of up to six months to help you get your finances back in order. If you’re still in good standing, you might be able to renegotiate the loan to lower your payments. The key is catching things as early as possible so you have the best options.
Getting Out of Default
The good news is default status isn’t the end of the world. All they really want is the money. Find a way to repay them in full and the default will be dismissed. Yes, it will take a while for your credit score to recover, but getting it marked “paid in full” will help.
Of course, if your student loan is in trouble, odds are many of your other debts are too. This is when you might consider hiring a debt relief firm.While these companies don’t deal with federal student loans, they could help settle your credit card, personal loan, and medical debt, which could make it easier to repay the student loan. As you explore this option, take some time to research information such as these Freedom Debt Relief reviews to make sure you choose a good company.
In conclusion, student loans might be some of the biggest loans you take on in your life. But unlike other loans, once they are taken out, payment is inescapable. Do everything you can to avoid defaulting on your student loans.