If you’ve defaulted on your student loans, you’re not alone. According to CNBC, more than 1 million people default on their student loans each year, and approximately 22% of student loan borrowers default at some time. But joining the crowd won’t help your credit or open opportunities for you in the future.
Here are some ways you can work to repair a federal student loan that you have defaulted on. For more details visit the Federal Student Aid Office’s website. If you have defaulted on a private student loan, you will need to contact your loan holder for information.
Repay the Loan in Full
The most obvious way to get your loan out of default is to pay it in full, but for most borrowers, that is not an option.
To start the loan rehabilitation process, you must contact your loan holder. If you’re not sure who your loan holder is, log in to “My Federal Student Aid” to get your loan holder’s contact information.
To rehabilitate a William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program and Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loan, you must
- agree in writing to make nine voluntary, reasonable, and affordable monthly payments (as determined by your loan holder) within 20 days of the due date,
- and make all nine payments during a period of 10 consecutive months.
Your loan holder will determine a reasonable monthly payment amount that is equal to 15 percent of your annual discretionary income, divided by 12. You must provide documentation of your income to your loan holder in order to determine the amount you will pay.
If you can’t afford the initial monthly payment amount, you can ask your loan holder to calculate an alternative monthly payment based on the amount of your monthly income that remains after reasonable amounts for your monthly expenses have been subtracted. Depending on your individual circumstances, this alternative payment amount may be lower than the payment amount you were initially offered.
To rehabilitate your loan, you must choose one of the two payment amounts. Once you have made the required nine payments, your loans will no longer be in default.
To rehabilitate a defaulted Federal Perkins Loan, you must make a full monthly payment each month, within 20 days of the due date, for nine consecutive months. Your required monthly payment amount is determined by your loan holder. Find out where to go for information about your Perkins Loan.
Benefits of Loan Rehabilitation
When your loan is rehabilitated, the default status will be removed from your loan, and collection of payments through wage garnishment or Treasury offset will stop. You’ll regain eligibility for benefits that were available on the loan before you defaulted, such as deferment, forbearance, a choice of repayment plans, and loan forgiveness, and you’ll be eligible to receive federal student aid.
Also, the record of default on the rehabilitated loan will be removed from your credit history. However, your credit history will still show late payments that were reported by your loan holder before the loan went into default.
If you rehabilitate a defaulted loan and then default on that loan again, you can’t rehabilitate it a second time. Rehabilitation is a one-time opportunity.
Consolidating your loan into one Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to pay off one or more federal student loans with a new consolidation loan.
To consolidate a defaulted federal student loan into a new Direct Consolidation Loan, you must either
• agree to repay the new Direct Consolidation Loan under an income-driven repayment plan, or
• make three consecutive, voluntary, on-time, full monthly payments on the defaulted loan before you consolidate it.
If you choose to make three payments on the defaulted loan before you consolidate it, the required payment amount will be determined by your loan holder but cannot be more than what is reasonable and affordable based on your total financial circumstances.
There are special considerations if you want to reconsolidate an existing Direct Consolidation Loan or Federal (FFEL) Consolidation Loan that is in default.
Getting Help with Your Defaulted Loan
If you need help with your defaulted loan, you will need to contact the holder of your defaulted loan. Find out who holds your loan by logging in to “My Federal Student Aid.”