Loan default -- which is what can happen if you don't make loan payments for a set number of months -- is a serious problem that can haunt you for the rest of your life. It can keep you from getting a loan to buy house. It can increase the interest rate you must pay on car loans and credit cards forever, which means you end up paying much, much more for things that should have cost you less. It can also make it harder for you to rent an apartment, sign up for utilities or even get a phone plan.
Default times vary depending on loan types. If you're having trouble making your payments, take a look at your loan documents to see how many months you can miss before you're in default. Before that happens, contact your lenders about deferment, forbearance or consolidation options.
Author's Note: 10 Tips for Repaying Student Loans
Student loans aren't the only debt that if ignored can wreck your life and credit. Defaulting on credit card debt, mortgages or car loans will also have ramifications that might follow you around forever. If I could go back and tell my 25-year-old self one thing about money, it would be to start saving now. Saving money is hard -- if it wasn't, there wouldn't be so many how-to books and articles written about it -- and I've not been as good about it as I should have been. Save money every month, I'd tell myself, even if it's only a little bit. Save for the long-term and short-term. It will offer peace of mind in middle age and can keep you from worrying about defaulting or running behind on credit cards, rent or mortgage, car loans or student loans.
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS). "Student Loan Interest Deduction." Aug. 18, 2014. (Oct. 11, 2014) http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc456.html
- Kane, Libby. "17 Tips For Quickly Paying Down Student Loans, From Someone Who Paid Off $74,000 In 2 Years." Business Insider. May 20, 2014. (Oct. 11, 2014) http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-pay-student-loans-faster-2014-5
- College Money Insider. "10 Tips for Paying Back Your Student Loans." Overture Technologies. Aug. 28, 2014. (Oct. 11, 2014) http://www.overturemarketplace.com/10-tips-for-paying-back-your-student-loans
- The Project on Student Debt. "Top 10 Student Loan Tips for Recent Graduates." (Oct. 11, 2014) http://projectonstudentdebt.org/recent_grads.vp.html
- Federal Student Aid. "Deferment and Forbearance." U.S. Department of Education. (Oct. 11, 2014) https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/deferment-forbearance#what-is-forbearance
- Federal Student Aid. "Understanding Default." U.S. Department of Education. (Oct. 11, 2014) https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/default
- National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). "FAQs." U.S. Department of Education. (Oct. 11, 2014) https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA/SaFaq.do
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