Avoiding Payment Problems

You're responsible for repaying your student loans.

Miss one payment and you are considered delinquent. Continue to miss payments and you could go into default. If you're having trouble making your loan payments, you may want to consider other payment options.

Borrower Payment Options

  • Change your payment plan and lower your monthly payments.
  • Apply for deferment or forbearance if you can't pay.
  • Consider loan consolidation to lower your monthly payments.


Delinquency is when you fail to make your monthly loan payments on time. You are considered to be delinquent when you miss even one payment.

All of your payments for student loans (and credit cards) are listed on your credit report. So, aside from late fees, your delinquencies could be reported to the consumer reporting agencies as negative effects on your credit report. These delinquencies could have a negative impact when you apply for future loans to buy a house or a car.

And if you miss any more payments, you could very easily slip into default.


Default is the failure to pay back your student loan on time and in the amount agreed upon. For a Stafford loan, if you miss nine months of payments, you have defaulted.

Loan default can have long-lasting or permanent consequences. Here are a few examples of what could happen if you are delinquent and default on your loans:

  • Your wages can be garnished.
  • State and federal income tax refunds may be seized and applied to the amount you owe.
  • You can be sued for the balance of your loan.
  • You can lose many loan benefits, such as cash back or lower interest rate incentives.
  • You can lose your eligibility for future financial aid.
  • You can lose deferment and forbearance options.
  • You can lose many repayment options, such as income-sensitive or graduated repayment.
  • The cost of your loan can increase with the addition of late fees and collection costs.
  • Your default can be reported to all consumer reporting agencies and could impact the financing of any future purchase, such as a home or car.


Your credit report is your personal credit payment history. Lenders use it to decide whether to loan you money and at what interest rate. Consumer reporting agencies compile this information from credit card issuers, mortgage holders, banks, and even retail stores that offer credit for purchases.

Your credit report shows your address, Social Security Number, date of birth, how much you borrowed through credit cards or any other types of loans including student loans, and whether or not you repay your debts on time.

You can request a copy of your credit report from these agencies:

Information Service Center
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

National Consumer Assistance Center
P.O. Box 949
Allen, TX 75013-0949

Consumer Relations
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022