Yes, it’s possible to default on private student loans. Defaulting on a loan means you have not made the required payments on time.
Many private lenders consider loans delinquent until more than three months have passed since the last required payment was made. Some lenders wait a few months longer.
Until your loans are in default, you may still have eligibility for unused deferment, forbearance time, and interest rate reduction payment plans that return your account to good standing and help lower your monthly payment.
Related: How to Get Student Loans Out of Default
Watch out for privately-held federal loans
If you have private student loans with Navient, American Education Services, or Nelnet, make sure you have a private student loan and not a privately-held federal student loan.
Student loan servicers, such as Navient, American Education Services, and Nelnet, service a type of loan known as Perkins Loans and Federal Family Education Loans, which are owned by private lenders and guarantee agencies.
These loans don’t qualify for the Covid-related forbearance options available for federally-held student loans, but they may be eligible for other federal benefits such as loan consolidation, income-driven repayment plans, and loan forgiveness.
To determine your loan type, visit the Federal Student Aid website, StudentAid.gov, and check the loan information provided there. If your loans are listed there, then they are federal student loans.