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Defaulted Student Loans: A Complete Guide [2022]

defaulted student loans


Defaulted student loans are a massive problem in the U.S. 

According to a recent study on student loan defaults by the Pew Charitable Trusts, almost one-third of those with federal student loan debt have defaulted at some point. And a significant percentage of those people have defaulted more than once.

But the Biden Administration has developed a “fresh start” policy to help 7.5 million borrowers with defaulted student loans. That plan is to help these people get their loans in good standing. 

This guide will explore everything you need to know about defaulted student loans, including current updates. 

With that said, let’s begin. 

1. What Are Defaulted Student Loans?  

When a student loan is not repaid after a certain period, it’s said to be in default. Your student loan enters a late status when a payment is not made by the due date.

Your student loan will continue to be considered delinquent unless you: 

  • make the full amount due, 
  • meet the requirements for a deferment or forbearance, or 
  • change your repayment plan.

Defaulted student loans vary depending on the type of loan. 

2. Defaulted Student Loans 2022 Updates 

The Biden administration has extended federally held student loan payments and interest accrual through August 31. 

During this extension, the U.S. Education Department will use the time to get ready to transition borrowers back to repayment. And they’ll accomplish this by allowing borrowers to receive a fresh start on their repayments. 

For that to happen, they’ll eliminate the impact of default and delinquency and allow the borrowers to repay their defaulted student loans in good standing. 

2.1 More Details On The Fresh Start Policy 

The Education Department has released more information on how the fresh start initiative will help borrowers, especially those behind on payments.

The Education Data Initiative reports that one in ten Americans has defaulted on student loans. That’s 9 million borrowers and their families being affected and costing $124.4 billion in defaulted loans.

According to Business Insider, defaulting on student loans can have long-lasting effects. For example, it can keep borrowers in debt, cause wage garnishment, and even have their federal benefits like Social Security seized. 

With the “Fresh Start” initiative, borrowers who have fallen behind on their payments would again be in good standing. That means their defaulted student loans will be listed as “current” on their credit reports.

2.2 Benefits Of The Fresh Start Policy 

defaulted student loans

If you qualify for this new initiative, you’ll have numerous benefits like: 

  • Access to repayment plans like specific loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment 
  • No attempts at collecting for a year
  • Availability of federal student aid will continue or finish college
  • All defaulted student loans will be reported as “current” and not in default status.

2.3 Who Qualifies For The Fresh Start Initiative? 

According to CNBC, you must have defaulted student loans in one of the following loan types: 

  • FFEL programs, both federal and private 
  • Perkins Loans 
  • Direct Loans 

However, remember that some loans don’t qualify. They are: 

  • Defaulted FFEL loans after March 2020
  • School-held Perkins loans 
  • HEAL loans

2.4 How To Enroll In The Fresh Start Initiative 

You’ll have one year to make payment arrangements after student loan payments resume. Here’s how to make arrangements: 

  • Call the Default Resolution Group 
  • Visit Debt Resolution FSA’s official website 
  • Contact your loan company 

According to Business Insider, the agency will transfer your debts to a non-default student loan provider.  

They’ll also remove your default status from your credit records. But that will be after you develop a plan to start your repayment.

2.5 U.S Department Of Education Defaulted Student Loans 

If you don’t make a payment, the loan defaults until you make up the shortfall. Your loan servicer will typically record the delinquency to the three major national credit bureaus if you miss student loan payments for more than 90 days. 

This could result in a decline in your credit ratings. And also, you run the danger of defaulting if the loan is left unpaid.

The length of time a loan takes to default varies depending on your lender and the type of defaulted student loans. For example, your debt enters default for federal direct loans or loans made through the FFEL program after about nine months of unpaid balances. 

2.6 Your Institution Can Declare Your Debt In Default 

Your school serves as the lender for Perkins loans and has the authority to declare the debt in default after any missed payments. However, after around three months, many private loans will default. 

However, this can differ from lender to lender. If you believe you might forget a payment, be careful to understand your loan’s delinquency and default conditions.

It’s also crucial to be aware that missing payments on defaulted student loans will lower your credit ratings. Furthermore, getting extra credit lines, such as credit cards or a mortgage, can be challenging if you have a debt that is in default.

2.7 Paying off Defaulted Student Loans Credit Score 

You would have already missed several payments by the time you defaulted. And that can considerably decrease your credit score. The default increases the damage itself.

If you have defaulted student loans, a negative notation will appear on your credit report. 

It’ll indicate that the loan holder has filed a claim with the government to recover the amount.

Furthermore, a student loan debt collection agency may purchase your defaulted loan debt if you have private loans. This collection account will also appear on your credit history. 

2.8 How Long Do Defaulted Student Loans Stay On Credit Report? 

A default will remain on your credit reports for up to seven years. And potential lenders will be less likely to extend credit to you. So try to pay off your default student loan whenever you can.

Several factors determine your credit score. So it’s impossible to estimate the number of points you’ll lose when you default on your student loans. 

Your payment history accounts for the biggest percentage of your credit score—35%.—of any category.

In most situations, the outcome will be a sizable and significant decline in credit score, which can take years to recover from.

A poor credit rating will impact your capacity to do the following:

  • Purchase a home or rent an apartment
  • Purchase a phone plan
  • Buy a car or lease one
  • register for services (gas, electric, water)

It can be challenging to get a job because some employers check the credit histories of prospective hires.

3. How To Fix Defaulted Student Loans 

defaulted student loans

3.1 Rehabilitate Your Student Loans 

Your credit report will show that your student loans are in default. Of course, as said earlier, it’ll severely lower your credit score.

Rehabilitating your loans is one approach to removing the default from your credit report. It’s one of the best ways to get your loans out of default. 

When you rehabilitate your defaulted student loans, you and the loan servicer agree to pay a small monthly sum for nine to 12 months. 

The default will be removed from your credit report if you follow this plan and make the required monthly payment.

Your credit score will increase a few points as a result of this.

3.2 Consolidate Your Student Loans 

Consolidating your debts is the next step to fixing your credit score. 

Consolidating your loans will make your payments easier if you have federal loans from several different loan servicers.

For example, the direct consolidation loan helps you to repay your federal loans in a single monthly payment instead of several. This makes things simpler and increases your chances of paying them off sooner.

If you work in a qualifying profession, the direct consolidation loan allows you access to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Here’s another benefit of this program for defaulted student loans. You typically get a lower interest rate because the government governs it. So it’s better than consolidating private student loans. 

3.3 Pay Off Your Student Loans 

Repaying your student loan in full is the simplest way to avoid defaulting on your student loans. But, of course, this is not a simple task to do. With the average student loan balance being high, it can be challenging to pay off your loans. 

However, this might be a good option if a family member is willing to lend you money to help you out. And if the money they lend will come at a lower interest rate. 

Another option is to apply for a loan with a cosigner to pay off your student debt to get better terms and APR rates.

4. How To Pay Defaulted Student Loans? 

4.1 Clear Off Other Debts You Have 

Suppose you have other obligations like car loans. In that case, your next move should be to reduce those balances once your student loans are under control. And that’s because your credit utilization makes up approximately 30% of your credit score.

It would be wise to focus on paying off your defaulted student loans if your credit card interest rates are better than your loan rates. 

That’s because, mathematically speaking, paying off the debt with the higher interest rate first will result in the best savings over time.

Additionally, having your credit cards maxed out will negatively impact your credit rating. So you must have as much available credit as possible. 

To enhance your credit utilization, consider acquiring a new line of credit and paying off your existing debt. Just don’t accrue any further debt.

4.2 Pay Your Bills On Time

defaulted student loans

It’s essential to take an honest look at your finances if you have trouble paying your other payments. That will help you make sure you consistently pay your bills on time.

It matters more than you might imagine: Your payment history, which accounts for 35% of your score, is the most crucial factor.

You may prevent late payments from further harming your credit score by sticking to a budget. Remember that skipping payments on your bills might negatively affect your credit for seven years. 

So remember when your payments are due, and think about signing up for autopay.

4.3 Sign Up For A Credit-Building Loan 

Credit-building loans expressly assist borrowers in improving their credit scores. However, the money you borrow for a credit-building loan is stored in an account you can’t access until the loan has been repaid. 

It’s different from a personal loan, where you receive in one lump sum and return with interest over a certain period. 

The lender takes less risk by retaining the money you borrowed. So these defaulted student loans are easier to get than traditional ones if you have bad credit

Your loan repayment history will be reported over time by the lender to the three credit agencies, potentially raising your credit score.

5. Consolidate Defaulted Student Loans 

If you have federal loans, haven’t paid your monthly payments in 270 days, or skipped a Perkins loan payment, you’re officially in default. 

Your loan servicer may impose collection fees at that point. And your whole balance will be owing, including interest and fees.

Fortunately, there are a few options for getting out of default, including consolidating your federal student loans. 

5.1 Consolidating Several Times 

You can combine any defaulted student loans. However, defaulted direct consolidation loans can only be consolidated again if you include another loan in the consolidation.

Remember that this only applies to federal student loans. You can’t consolidate private student loans the same way. And your lender will have its particular guidelines for getting out of default.

Consolidating your defaulted federal student loans is simple, making it a viable option for getting out of default.

5.2 Advantages Of Consolidation

  • You can enroll in a more reasonable repayment plan.
  • You can prevent the default from further harming your credit score.
  • Your collection expenses might be lower.
  • It won’t be necessary to pay off all of your college loans.

5.3 Disadvantages Of Consolidation

  • The default will still appear on your credit reports after you consolidate them.
  • Your loan balance will increase by capitalizing and adding unpaid interest and fees.
  • You may still have to pay collection costs. 
  • If you were previously on an income-driven repayment plan, it might not help.

5.4 How To Consolidate Your Loans 

You should use the Federal Student Aid website to apply for loan consolidation if you have federal loans. However, before you start, you have to fulfill one of two conditions, but you can choose both: 

  • Make three consecutive monthly payments on the defaulted loan that is voluntary, timely, and full.
  • Accept the terms of an IDR plan for your new student loan.

The IDR plan is significantly simpler, but it’s also more constrained. For example, if you enroll in an income-driven repayment plan, you can choose a 20- or 25-year repayment plan. Furthermore, you’ll access more repayment options if you make the three complete payments.

Consolidating your debts will also remove you from defaulted student loans list. But collection costs will still be your responsibility. 

You’ll pay $150 or up to 18.5% of the remaining principal and interest if you select the IDR plan option. 

You’ll have to pay 2.8% of the total interest and outstanding principal if you decide to make the three payments.

5.5 How Long Does It Take To Consolidate Defaulted Student Loans

defaulted student loans

The application to consolidate defaulted student loans can take just a few minutes. But the process itself may take between 30 and 45 days to complete. 

Also, add three more months to your timeline if you want to make three payments before the process begins.

Maintaining on-time payments while you wait for the consolidation process to be finished will show your commitment to never defaulting again. And this will prohibit you from being charged late costs.

6. Refinance Defaulted Student Loans 

When you refinance a student loan, you replace your existing debt with a new loan. You can qualify for a loan with a reduced interest rate and monthly payment, depending on the circumstances. 

That makes it easier to fulfill your obligations and saves you money over the long term on interest. Comparing many lenders to find the best offers is a good idea. 

You can refinance defaulted student loans, but it can be difficult. 

So as you are refinancing a defaulted student loan, you may need assistance from a cosigner in certain situations. 

So look for a cosigner with a good income and credit score to help you if you can’t make the payments. If you can’t refinance defaulted student loans, the next point may help. 

6.1 Refinance In The Future 

Having a defaulted loan may prevent you from refinancing your loans. If that’s the case for you, you can search for other options to get out of default. Then, build your credit score and apply in the future. 

But remember that refinancing federal loans will cost you your federal advantages and protections, such as loan forgiveness and IDR plans. And it doesn’t matter even if you can refinance federal and private student loans.

7. Conventional Loan With Defaulted Student Loans 

Can a borrower get a conventional loan with defaulted student loans? There are lots of factors that affect the answer to this question: 

  • The type of student loan, 
  • Whether and how the defaulted loan appears on your credit report, 
  • The actions you took to solve the problem, 
  • The timing of the default, and 
  • Whether or not your name is listed in the CAIVRS database as a result of the default

When you apply for a conventional mortgage and have defaulted student loan, lenders usually ask you to submit a letter of explanation. 

In the letter, you’ll explain the circumstances of the default and any actions you took to solve them. 

7.1 The Letter Should Be Detailed

It’s crucial to include details on any settlement or defaulted student loans payment plan you implemented to correct the default. In addition, any letter you send the lender should be truthful, brief, and concentrated on your efforts to fix the issue.

You might not need to produce the letter if the loan doesn’t appear on your credit record. And you should be able to get a conventional mortgage provided your credit score and other standards meet the lender’s requirements. 

7.2 The Loan Default’s Timing Is Crucial 

Another crucial factor is the timing of the student loan default. Any default can negatively impact your credit score, making it harder for you to get a mortgage. And even if you do, you can pay a higher interest rate. 

If your loan default is recent, it highly affects your credit score. And the potential damage is massive. Use credit monitoring apps to check your score and see if the defaulted student loan is listed on your credit report.

7.3 Consider The Type Of Student Loan 

Other essential factors are the type of loan you’re looking for and the mortgage program. That’s because, depending on when your federal loan defaulted, you can be listed in CAIVRS. 

CAIVRS is a government-run database that tracks borrowers who are in delinquency and have defaulted loans. It also includes those who have had a claim paid on loans secured by the government, including student loans.

Being in CAIVRS often disqualifies you from receiving a government-backed loan like a USDA, VA, or FHA mortgage. 

To be eligible for a government-backed mortgage program, you must address the default by bringing the loan current or creating a payment plan. 

Remember that if you’re included in CAIVRS, the mortgage lender must verify that the reason for your inclusion is valid before rejecting your application. In this case, it’s the student loan default. 

So it’s possible to get a conventional loan with defaulted student loans if you follow these rules. 

8. Cares Act Defaulted Student Loans 

Student loan borrowers are assisted under the CARES Act, the stimulus legislation passed in March. Between March 13, 2020, and August 31, 2022, no payments on federal loans owned by the Education Department are necessary under the new law. 

In addition, between March 13, 2020, and August 31, 2022, the interest rate on these federal student loans will automatically decrease to 0%. 

The CARES Act doesn’t apply to private student loans or federal student loans not owned by the Education Department.

Here are a few things about the Cares Act defaulted student loans. 

8.1 Which Student Loans Have A 0% Interest Rate?

Federal student loans held by the U.S Education Department are subject to a zero percent lending rate.

The loans include:

  • Some federal Perkins loans 
  • Direct Loans (defaulted and non-defaulted)
  • Some FFEL loans (defaulted and non-defaulted)

Before 2010, FFEL loans were disbursed. However, Stafford loans, whose interest is paid by the government while the borrower is enrolled in school or during grace periods, are included in the FFEL program. 

Non-subsidized Stafford loans, whose interest is not paid by the government, are also included in the FFEL program.

Direct consolidation loans and PLUS loans are also included in the zero percent loan rate.

8.2 If You Have Defaulted Student Loans, Do You Get Any Relief? 

Your income, Social Security benefits, and tax refund, including disability benefits, won’t be garnished if you default on your federal loans during the forbearance period. 

Additionally, there won’t be any interest added to your debts during the forbearance period. That’s because the CARES Act defaulted student loans don’t apply to private student loans. 

9. Student Loan Default Forgiveness 

defaulted student loans

According to President Biden’s announcement, the federal government will forgive up to $20,000 in federal student debts for millions of students who are struggling with defaulted student loans debt. However, not every borrower will be eligible.

Rules included in the measure will keep debtors with high-income balances intact. Those approved must negotiate the complicated federal loan servicing system and closely monitor their accounts and credit reports for any errors.

Also, it extends the pause on monthly loan payments, delaying their start until at least January. And it provides information on a new proposal to develop a more affordable IDR plan.

9.1 Will Defaulted Loans Be Forgiven? 

Yes. You can get student loan default forgiveness for defaulted student loans. Relief is available to all defaulted borrowers who benefited from the payment freeze.

9.2 If Your Debt Is Above $10,00 And In Default, Will You Be Forgiven? 

Yes. You’ll get a student loan default forgiveness. You’ll have a new start. If your loans are current, you can sign up for a repayment plan without going through the typical additional hoops.

If you can’t make payments, get in touch with your servicer. In case if it is necessary, they can help you sign up for a more reasonable repayment plan, such as income-driven repayment. 

A defaulting borrower will merely purchase additional time before going into default again. And that is after approximately nine months of non-payment if they do nothing.

An account often takes a year or longer to enter collections. The federal government then can take your tax refund, up to 15% of your wage, or a portion of your Social Security payments.

Also, defaulted borrowers are no longer barred from receiving federal student aid, including Pell grants, thanks to this new status.

10. Final Words 

Defaulted student loans can be stressful if you don’t know how to come out of them. Hopefully, you can use this guide as a step in the right direction. When you get your loans out of default, it’s crucial to avoid repeating the same mistakes. 

Make sure you have a monthly payment that you can manage without experiencing financial hardship.

As you plan for your student loan payments, make sure you position yourself for success. This could mean creating a monthly budget that helps you plan for all your bills and typical expenses. 

It could also reduce your discretionary spending to free up more monthly money. Finally, you can think about automating your defaulted student loans payments, so you never forget to make them.