Information from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

What To Do If You Can't Afford Student Loan Payments

Contact your student loan servicer immediately. Asking for help right away can help you from falling further behind on payments.

There may be options to lower your monthly payment. These options may include:

  • graduated repayment—a plan where your payments start out lower and gradually increase over time.
  • extended repayment—a plan where you pay less each month but extend the life of your loan over a longer period of time.

Options for Federal Student Loans

Contact the agency that is billing you and explain your situation. There are several options that may be available to you.

  • Repayment in full
  • Loan rehabilitation, and
  • Loan consolidation

Options for Private Loans

If you are in default on a private (non-federal) loan, you need to talk to your loan holder as soon as possible and ask about what you can do.

  • Inquire about setting up a payment plan that works for you. You may have the opportunity to negotiate with the collector to settle your debt for less than you currently owe.
  • Pay what you can every month, even if it's only $5. This shows a good faith effort to repay your loan.
  • Know your rights when dealing with debt collectors. It is against the law for a collector to abuse, harass, or make false statements to you. For more information, see the webpage dealing with debt collectors from the Federal Trade Commission.
Beware of private companies offering to help you with your loans for a fee
Private companies may contact you with offers to help you with your student loans for a fee. Remember, you never have to pay for help with your student loans. The U.S. Department of Education loan servicers will help you for free.

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