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    How To Get Your Student Loan Payments Back On Track

    When you miss your student loan payments, you almost always have options to make things right again. This infographic explains how you can do it.
    Updated: November 15, 2013

    An infographic about how to get your student loan payments back on track

    So, You Missed Your Loan Payments

    What Happens Now?

    It can feel pretty overwhelming when you forget or can't afford your monthly student loan payments. Skipping or missing payments comes with consequences-but even if you fall behind, you can always do something to get your federal student loans back on track. Just remember, the sooner you act, the more options you'll have.

    "So, what options do I have," you ask?

    Well, that depends on your specific circumstances.

    The following information applies only to federal student loans. Private loans have different terms and conditions. If you are behind on your private loan payments, contact your lender directly to learn about your options.

    If You Just Forgot Your Payment Was Due:

    • Call your servicer to sign up for automatic payments so you don't miss more payments in the future.
    • Sign up for a payment reminder.
    • Schedule a recurring monthly reminder on your phone or computer.

    If You Can't Afford Your Payments:

    • Work with the people calling you-they may be able to help you.
    • Decrease your monthly payments with a different payment options.
    • Temporarily postpone your payments with a deferment or forbearance.

    15-30 Days Past Due

    What Happens Now:

    Within weeks of missing a payment, your loan servicer can start assessing late fees of up to 6% for every dollar that is late. That means if you missed a $100 payment, you could owe up to $6 in fees. If you act quickly, you may be able to stop the late payment from having a negative impact on your credit. It usually gets reported after about 60 days.

    What You Can Do Now:

    • If you missed one payment, send it a double payment.
    • Sign up for automatic payments to make sure you don't miss more payments in the future.

    31-60 Days Past Due

    What Happens Now:

    • Your credit may begin to suffer as some consumer reporting agencies will begin getting notices about your past-due loans.
    • You may receive emails, letters, and phone calls about your past-due loan. If your lender doesn't have your current phone number or address, they may contact people you know to get that information.
    • Additional late fees can be applied to your delinquent loans.

    What You Can Do Now:

    • Contact your lender or servicer to let them know that you want to get your loan back on track.
    • Make all the payments you've missed to bring your account up to date.

    Or

    • Make a partial payment to make your debt more manageable and prevent your payment options from becoming restricted.

    61-120 Days Past Due

    What Happens Now:

    • Your credit score will be damaged as reports on your loan are sent to consumer reporting agencies-this will continue every 30 days.
    • The impact on your credit score could begin to make it difficult for you to get additional lines of credit (like a car loan, a mortgage, or even an apartment lease), and the interest rates on your credit cards may begin to increase.
    • Additional late fees can be applied to your delinquent loan.

    What You Can Do Now:

    • Contact your lender or servicer to let them know that you want to get your loan back on track.
    • Make all the payments you've missed to bring your account up to date.

    Or

    • Make a partial payment to make your debt more manageable and prevent your payment options from becoming restricted.

    121-140 Days Past Due

    What Happens Now:

    At this point, you need to act very quickly to avoid default. For right now, your situation and options are the same as they were when your loans were 61-120 days past due. Things are going to get much worse if you don't take action right away, though.

    What You Can Do Now:

    • Contact your lender or servicer to let them know that you want to get your loan back on track.
    • Make all the payments you've missed to bring your account up to date.

    Or

    • Make a partial payment to make your debt more manageable and prevent your payment options from becoming restricted.

    You Need To Act Now

    Your options change at this point, but you can still fix this.

    241-269 Days Past Due

    What Happens Now:

    • Your lender will send you a final demand letter requesting payment of the full loan balance within 30 days.
    • Reports on your loan continue to be sent to the consumer reporting agencies every 30 days.
    • The impact on your credit score could begin to make it difficult for you to get additional lines of credit (like a car loan, a mortgage, or even an apartment lease), and the interest rates on your credit cards may begin to increase.
    • Additional late fees can be applied to your delinquent loan.

    What You Can Do Now:

    • To avoid default, it's absolutely critical that you contact your servicer right away to let them know that you want to get your loan back on track and find out what options you have.
    • Make a partial payment if you can-it could get you one step closer to brining your loan current.

    If You Can't Afford Your Payments:

    • You may still be able to use a different repayment option to decrease your monthly payments, but contact your servicer and apply immediately to avoid any restrictions.
    • Ask your servicer if they'll still allow you to temporarily suspend your payments with a deferment or forbearance. They might not, but it's definitely worth checking.

    After 270 Days Past Due

    What Happens Now:

    Your federal student loan is in default or dangerously close to defaulting-there are serious consequences once your loan enters default and changes hands to a new servicer, including:

    • Your entire loan balance is due in full, and the outstanding interest on your loan is added (capitalized) to the principal balance of your loan-meaning you'll now be charged interest on the interest you haven't paid.
    • Your default is reported to the consumer reporting agencies, severely damaging your credit.
    • You may be denied credit cards, mortgage, car loans, and even an apartment or job.
    • The federal government can seize your state and federal tax returns and up to 15% of your wages to pay what you owe.
    • Your account may be assigned to a collection agency, and additional collection fees can be applied to your loan after it defaults.
    • Collection costs of 18-25% can be added to your loan balance.
    • You may no longer be allowed to use a repayment option to lower your monthly payment amounts or apply for auto debit.
    • You're no longer eligible for federal or state financial aid or even Pell grants.

    What You Can Do Now:

    Even if your payments are more than 270 days past due, you may still be able to save your loan from the consequences of default, but there are no guarantees. Contact your servicer to find out all of your options-they may include the following:

    • It's possible that you'll still be allowed to temporarily suspend your payment with a deferment or forbearance, though you may have to make a qualifying payment on your loan first.
    • If you loan has defaulted, you may be able to enter into a rehabilitation plan to get it out of default and remove the default from your credit report.
    • If your defaulted loan is a FFELP loan, you may be able to consolidate it into the Direct Loan (DL) program. However, you'll still be charged fees with this option and the default will remain on your credit report. To consolidate, you must arrange three satisfactory payments with your current lender or agree to repay your loan in an income-based or income-contingent repayment plan.
    • Paying your loan in full is also an option at this point, if you can afford to do it.

    Source:

    American Student Assistance® (ASA) Internal Research asa.org.

    When you miss your student loan payments, you almost always have options to make things right again. This infographic explains how you can do it.
    Actualizado: 15 noviembre 2013
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