When your federal student loans default, your loan servicer sends them back to the US Department of Education to collect.
The Department then places your loans with the Default Resolution Group/Debt Management and Collections System.
The Department's Default Resolution Group will either handle the collection process themselves or will send your loans to a private collection agency.
No matter where your loans end up, your options for bringing your student loans back into good standing are going to be the same:
- loan consolidation
- loan rehabilitation
What happens if your student loans go into default?
When you default on federal student loans you lose access to:
- income-driven repayment plan options
- loan forgiveness programs (e.g., Public Service Loan Forgiveness)
- federal student aid (loans, grants, etc.) and
- deferments and forbearances
Debt collection power after default
After you default, the government (or the private debt collectors it contracts) can:
- send a wage garnishment order to your job
- take your tax refund through the Treasury Offset Program
- offset your Social Security benefits and
- add collection fees to your student loan debt.
Click here to read Guide to Getting Out of Student Loan Default
Who has your defaulted student loans?
The easiest way to find out who has your defaulted student loans is to call the Default Resolution Group at 800-621-3115.
When you call, you'll put in your Social Security Number and date of birth. If your loans are with a private collection agency, the automated system will provide you the name and number of that agency.
It will also transfer you to the agency so you can work with them to get your loans out of default.
If the automated system doesn't give you the name and number of an agency, you'll be transferred to an operator.
The operator will review your options (settlement, consolidation, and loan rehabilitation).In my experience, the customer service experience is about the same no matter who has your loans.
You'll have to make multiple phone calls, send documents multiple times, and, occasionally, deal with rude, unhelpful people.
How do you get your loans out of default?
Most student loan borrowers trying to get out of default are going to choose between consolidating their loans or entering int the loan rehabilitation program.
Which option is right for you is hard to say without first looking at your defaulted loans.
When I work with clients, we set up a Zoom video chat where I look at their federal student loans and financial situation to figure out the best option for them.
Let's talk if you'd like my help with that.
Otherwise, you can read these articles to decide what to do.
- How to get out of default with the loan rehab program
- How to rehabilitate a defaulted federal loan
- Why you should sign the loan rehab agreement letter
- What happens after your complete the rehab program
- Should you consolidate defaulted student loans?
- How to consolidate federal student loans that are in default
- Consolidation vs rehabilitation: which is better?
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government passed the CARES Act, which suspended collections on defaulted student loans they own. They also agreed to suspend the interest rate from accruing on your loans and to make the monthly payments for your loans that are in the loan rehabilitation program.
The late payments, however, will remain on your credit report.
These benefits will last until September 30, 2020. After that, if you're still in default, you remain at risk of wage garnishment.
The CARES Act does not apply to private student loans. It also does not apply to federal loans owned by a guaranty agency.
If you have loans made under the Direct Loan Program, you don't have to worry about this; your loans are covered. But if you have Perkins Loans or Federal Family Education Loans, those types of loans may not be covered by the Act.
Check the studentaid.gov website to see what type of loans you have and who has your loans.
CARES Act Refunds
One other benefit of the CARES Act is a refund of garnished wages and tax refund offsets that occurred on or after May 13, 2020.
Many of my clients got their refund checks mailed to them by the first week of June. Some, however, are still waiting. To check on your refund status, you can email the Resolution Group. You can also call them at 800-621-3115.
Contact information for DRG
US Department of Education
PO Box 5609
Greenville, TX 75403
Phone Number: 800-621-3115
You can also view your loan balance by using the DRG's website: myeddebt.ed.gov.
And you can email questions, but not documents, by using this link.