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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 should I do if I can't afford my student loan payment?


Contact your servicer to find out more information about affordable repayment plans which may reduce or postpone your monthly payment. 

You may be able to lower your monthly payment by enrolling in a payment plan based on your income or a plan that extends the amount of time you will have to repay your loan. 

Federal Student Loans

 For federal student loans, there are several repayment plans available to reduce your payments, including:

You may also be able to postpone your payments under deferment or forbearance.

If you are having trouble making your loan payments, contact your servicer to explore all of your options that might help to make your payments more affordable, including income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. IDR plans may lower your monthly payment, possibly as low as $0, because your payment amount is tied to 10% – 15% of your income.

Private Student Loans

Unlike federal student loans, there are no standard options to lower your monthly payments on a private student loan. Every lender is different. Some lenders will offer modified repayment plans that are similar to the federal programs, particularly graduated repayment.

If you are worried about missing payments, the most important thing to do is to contact your servicer or visit the servicer’s website to see if you have any options. If you definitely will be missing a payment, call the loan servicer as soon as possible to discuss the situation.

If you don’t make your student loan payments, there could be serious consequences, including:

  • Your lender or servicer will report the missed payments to credit reporting companies, hurting your credit rating.
  • If your loan goes into default, your lender or servicer may attempt to collect on your debt directly or through a collection agency.
  • Your lender or servicer may take legal action against you or against your co-signer or may take payments through wage garnishment and tax refund withholding.
  • If you have a co-signer, the co-signer’s credit standing will be harmed and the co-signer may be called upon to make your payments, face debt collection, or be sued.
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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.