Delinquency and default are not just terms. They are stages with specific timelines that escalate the consequences of missed student loan payments.
Delinquency starts the moment you miss a payment. It can have serious repercussions after just 90 days, so consider it your immediate cue to get back on track.
For federal student loans, prolonged delinquency can escalate into default after 270 days for Direct Loan and Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans.
For Federal Perkins Loans, default occurs if a payment isn’t made when due.
Default is a stage you must avoid. For federal loans, it typically occurs when you haven’t made a payment in more than 270 days for Direct Loans or FFEL Program loans. But for Federal Perkins Loans, default is immediate upon a missed payment. The consequences are long-lasting and extend beyond a poor credit score, potentially affecting your job prospects.
Related: How to Get Student Loans Out Of Default Fast
Private Student Loans
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the general guideline is that private student loans often default after 90 days of missed payments. But your promissory note usually outlines the specific terms for when your loan becomes delinquent or defaults.
Most private lenders proceed to charge off the loan after about 120 days of missed payments, effectively writing it off as a loss.
Once your loan is charged off and declared in default as per your promissory note, options for resolution become severely limited and typically lead to debt collection efforts.
Related: What Happens If You Default On Private Student Loans?