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We're the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.

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What happens if I default on a federal student loan?


If your loan holder is unable to obtain payment from you for 270 days, they will take steps to place the loan in default and attempt to collect on the loan. 

Your loan holder may even “accelerate” a defaulted loan, which means that the entire balance of the loan (principal and interest) becomes due in a single payment.

Once your federal student loan goes into default, you could face a number of consequences:

  • Your wages may be garnished without a court order
  • You can lose out on your tax refund or Social Security check (funds would be applied toward your defaulted student loan)
  • Credit reporting agencies will be notified, and your credit score may suffer

You may not receive any additional federal student aid if you are in default on any federal student loan until you have taken steps to bring your federal student loan out of default. The Department of Education’s Going Back to School guide has more information on this topic.

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The content on this page provides general consumer information. It is not legal advice or regulatory guidance. The CFPB updates this information periodically. This information may include links or references to third-party resources or content. We do not endorse the third-party or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. There may be other resources that also serve your needs.