What happens when your student loans go into default? If you’ve ever wondered what really happens when you default on your student loans, the answer is not so simple.
College grads are carrying anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.
While it’s not good to ignore your student loan payments, there may be some circumstances where you can’t make payments on time or end up missing payments altogether.
This will most likely result in a serious situation called student loan default.
And if your student loans go into default, your loans will be transferred from your student loan servicer to a third-party debt collection company. And this can be strange to many borrowers. You might have spent years dealing with a company like Fedloan or Nelnet, then suddenly you're receiving a call from a company named Educational Credit Management and you're very confused. Is it a scam? What's going on?
Here's what you need to know about dealing with student loan debt collectors, including the full list of all debt collection agencies that work on behalf of the Department of Education so that you can be sure you're not going to be scammed.
If you're not quite sure where to start or what to do, consider hiring a CFA to help you with your student loans. We recommend The Student Loan Planner to help you put together a solid financial plan for your student loan debt. Check out The Student Loan Planner here.
Important Note For Covid-19: Collection activity on student loans is set to resume on May 1, 2022. If you've been in a rehabiliation program, your non-payments during Covid-19 count and you should resume in good standing. However, if you've been in default, you need to be prepared. Learn more about potential extensions to collection activity here.
Repercussions Of Defaulting On Your Student Loan Debt
Student loan default is one of the worst financial actions that can happen to you. You'll be dealing with the following.
If you do find yourself in default on your student loans, you'll need to communicate with the collections agency that has been assigned to your debt. You'll have a couple of options, including student loan rehabilitation, setting up a repayment plan with them, or potentially even settling the debt.
Federal vs. Private vs. Privately-Held Federal Loans
Depending on your loan type, you'll encounter various debt collectors. For Federal loans, the Department of Education has stopped using private debt collectors and now simply uses it's existing loan servicing companies. You can see your loan information here: https://myeddebt.ed.gov/
For private and privately-held Federal loans (like FFEL or Perkins), you may encounter one of the agencies below.
There are over 20 different student loan collections agencies, many with names you're not going to be familiar with. If one of them reaches out to you, you need to take it serious.
Below is a list of common student loan collection agencies along with their contact information if you need to reach out to them.
Debt Collection Laws Protect You
Remember, these companies are third party debt collectors, and there are laws that limit what they can and can't do. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that provides limitations on what debt collectors can do when collecting certain types of debt. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act covers how debt collection is reported in credit reports. In addition, there are state laws that provide protections.
These companies may NOT:
- Contact you before 8am or after 9pm. Also if a debt collector knows that you're not allowed to receive the debt collector’s communications at work, then the debt collector is not allowed to contact you there.
- The debt collector may not harass you or anyone else in regards to the debt.
- If you tell the debt collector to stop contacting you in writing, they must stop contacting you except to take legally allowed actions against you, such as filing a lawsuit (if this happens, you need to get a student loan lawyer ASAP).
If you are contacted by a debt collector for your student loan debt, they are required to tell you the following information about your debt:
- The name of the creditor (this will be your student loan servicer and should sound familiar)
- The amount owed (remember, this amount may be much larger than your original debt amount due to accrued interest and fees from being in default)
- That you can dispute the debt
- That you can request the name of the original creditor, if different than the current one
Also, certain states have also increased borrower rights. For example, California recently passed the California Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.
Student Loan Debt Collection Agencies
Here is the full current list of student loan debt collection agencies. These companies do change from time to time, and we strive to keep this information as current as possible.
3. American Student Assistance Corp
4. Central Research, Inc.
122 N. Bloomington, Suite I
Lowell, AR 72745
9. Credit Adjustments
330 Florence St.
Defiance, OH 43512
14. Enterprise Recovery Systems, Inc. now Alltran Education Inc.
17. FMS Investment Corp
27. Progressive Financial
28. The CBE Group, Inc.
30. West Asset Management, Inc.
171 Mercy Rd., Omaha, NE 68106
Avoiding Student Loan Default
Of course, the easiest way to steer clear of having to deal with any of these companies is to avoid student loan default altogether. Make sure you understand what type of loans you have and commit to making your payments on time.
Also, seek out student loan debt relief options like refinancing, deferment or forbearance, and even student loan forgiveness. Student loan forgiveness is not a quick fix and you'll still have to pay on your student loans but it's wise to see if you qualify if you hold federal student loans.
Navigating student loan collections can be challenging, especially if you haven't looked at your student loans in a long time.
Consider getting the help of an attorney who specializes in student loan debt so that you can find the answers you need before you commit to something that may not help you financially.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.