If I Default, Can They Repossess My Education?

Wherever you work, there are bound to be people taping or tacking cartoons to the walls. Sometimes they’re just funny stuff, but more often than not it’s something related to your job.

At my desk, I recently took down the Toothpaste for Dinner comic about applying autotune to your loans, and put up one by Emily Flake about what happens when the student loan people come to repo your BA.

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These comics are silly, but I like them, because they point out just how hard it is to really get your mind around a loan—especially when most of the money went straight to your school and you never actually touched it.

I mean, you might be able to recycle a 1980s bassline, but it’s pretty near impossible to turn a 1099-E into a hit R&B single. It’s not at all hard to understand that if you miss car payments the repo man will come and take the car. But what will lenders do about a student loan?

They Can’t Repo Your BA … Can They?

No. They can’t. But there are still some serious consequences if you don’t pay:

  • If it’s a couple days late, send the money and you’ll probably be fine.
  • After 30 days, you’ll be two payments behind, and probably owe a late fee as well.
  • At 60 days, your credit starts to take damage.
  • When you get toward a year late, you can enter default. At that point, things go south quick.

If You’re In Default

The consequences of default are way worse:

  • Your credit damage will be severe. You will find it harder to get a credit card, a lease, a car loan, maybe even a job. (After all, employers may not trust you with their money if they think you can’t handle your own.)
  • You’ll be charged collection costs, generally 18%–25% of the amount you owe.
  • You’ll be charged interest on those collection costs.
  • You’ll be charged interest on your late fees.
  • You’ll be charged interest on your unpaid interest.
  • You could face wage garnishment, i.e., a chunk of your paycheck taken for your loans before you even get paid.
  • Expecting a tax refund or Social Security check? Your loans can take that, too.

 

So, while they can’t take back the education, lenders will get their money one way or another.

If you do default, there are ways to recover, like rehabilitation and consolidation. But trust us, it’s way better to prevent default with a payment plan you can manage.

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