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    What Happens if You Miss a Student Loan Payment?

    By Kayla Korzekwinski

    Kayla Korzekwinski is a Scholarships360 content writer. She earned her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied Advertising/PR, Rhetorical Communication, and Anthropology. Kayla has worked on communications for non-profits and student organizations. She loves to write and come up with new ways to express ideas.

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    and Cait Williams

    Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.

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    Reviewed by Annie Trout

    Annie has spent the past 18+ years educating students about college admissions opportunities and coaching them through building a financial aid package. She has worked in college access and college admissions for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission/Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, Middle Tennessee State University, and Austin Peay State University.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: September 13th, 2023
    What Happens if You Miss a Student Loan Payment?

    A late student loan payment can have financial consequences for borrowers. It’s important to make monthly payments on time to avoid punishments such as wage garnishment or damage to your credit score. Continue reading to learn more about what happens if you miss a student loan payment!

    Where can I find my student loan information? 

    Students can log on at the Federal Student Aid website to view the status of their loans. If loans are not up-to-date, students will not be eligible for any federal aid (sometimes even scholarships) until they’re back in good graces with their previous student loans.

    What happens if you miss a federal student loan payment?

    Federal student loans are owned by the Department of Education and its student loan servicers. If a borrower misses a student loan payment, their loan becomes delinquent. It will remain in delinquency until you make the past-due payment. Other options for getting out of delinquency include changing your repayment plan or entering deferment or forbearance. The longer your federal student loans are delinquent, the harsher the consequences could be.

    • After 30 days of missed payment, the borrower could be charged late fees by the loan servicer
    • After 90 days of delinquency, the loan servicer will report the missed payment to the 3 major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, and the missed payment can remain on your credit report for up to 7 years
    • After 270 days, your federal loan will enter default, which can have severe consequences including the entire loan balance becoming immediately due, wages potentially being garnished, and the loan being sold to a collection agency

    See also: Student loan default: How to get out of it

    What happens if you miss a private student loan payment?

    Private companies such as banks own and distribute private student loans. Each private lender has its own specific rules regarding late payment. 

    Unlike federal loans, private student loans enter delinquency on the first day of missed payment. Private lenders will report the delinquent loan to TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian 30-45 days after missed payment.

    Private student loans generally enter default sooner than federal student loans. It depends on the lender, but some loans enter default as soon as payment is one day past due. In general, however, private student loans default after 120 days. 

    Private lenders cannot garnish your wages without taking you to court, but they can send your loan to collections. Borrowers who default on private student loans don’t have the rehabilitation options that federal loans do. Often, the only way to resolve private student loan default is to make the overdue payment.

    How to avoid missing student loan payments

    If you fear you may miss a student loan payment, contact your loan servicer to discuss your options. They can inform you about deferment or forbearance or, in the case of federal student loans, suggest you sign up for an income-driven repayment plan.

    Enrolling in autopay will allow the lender to withdraw your payment from your account every month. This can relieve you from potentially missing the deadline for payment. Additionally, you can combine several student loans into one monthly payment by consolidating or refinancing.

    Always pay on time

    Make it a priority to keep up with your student loan payments. If you fear you may fall behind, change your repayment plan, or apply for deferment or forbearance. Missing a student loan payment can have worse consequences the longer the payment is overdue.

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Missing one student loan payment by a day or two is not something that you should worry will have serious consequences, however, if you do have a late payment, you should pay it as soon as possible to avoid potential consequences
    • If you find yourself missing payments because you are forgetful, try setting up an automatic payment for each month
    • If you are unable to make payments because of finances, you should speak with your lender about what you can do to not fall behind and remain in good standing with them
    • Not paying student loans can have very negative consequences for your finances, so always try to be on top of them as much as possible and be sure to take out your loans wisely

    Frequently asked questions about what happens if you miss a student loan payment

    Will one late student loan payment affect my credit score?

    One late payment should not have an impact on your credit score. Your late payment is only reported to credit agencies after you have not paid it for a certain amount of time. That time frame varies depending on who gave you the loan in the first place, whether it’s private or federal. So, if you simply forgot to make a payment or went a few days past the due date, you should of course pay, but not get too worried about your credit score being seriously impacted.

    How do I get my late student loan payments removed?

    If you have a late student loan payment that is beginning to affect your credit, you can dispute the claim with your lender. It’s best if when you file your dispute you are all caught up on your payments and in good standing. It will be much easier to have one late payment removed than having several consecutive payments taken off. Disputing your late payments can take time. So, keep in mind that this is not always a quick process. 

    Is it a crime to not pay student loans?

    It is not a criminal offense to not pay your students loans, which means you can’t be arrested for not paying them. However, not paying your student loans may result in your lender suing you. If you are summoned to appear in court for not paying your loans, you must show up. Failing to show up to a court summons is considered a criminal offense and it is something that you could be arrested for. 

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