December 01, 2021
Summary: Are you past due on your student loans? Worried you're going to get hauled off in the paddywagon? Find out if you can go to jail for not paying student loans.
When you are in debt it can be stressful and a horrible experience. You might even worry about being sent to jail for not paying your debts. Despite this, it is usually not the case. With most debts, you cannot go to jail because you are past due on credit card debt or student loan debt. The only time you can go to jail for not paying your debt is due to not paying taxes or child support.
In some cases, you can go to jail for debt. This is only if you have not paid your taxes or if you have not continued to pay your child support payment. This is because if you deliberately do not pay your taxes, then the government believes you should go to jail. The only time that this can happen, is if you have been charged and convicted of this crime.
Tax crimes include filing a fraudulent tax return or not filing a return at all, but if you simply cannot pay, the government will not put you into prison.
Another instance where you can be put into jail for debt is if you do not pay your child support. This is because the government believes that you should be able to support your children or at least attempt to. Federal law states that you can be sentenced to as much as six months or two years in prison for not paying child support.
You cannot be arrested or placed in jail for not paying student loan debt, but it can become overwhelming. Student loan debts are considered “civil” debts, which are in the same category as credit card debt and medical bills. Because of this, they cannot send you to jail for not paying them.
Debt collectors can file lawsuits against consumers in order to collect the money owed to them. Despite this, the lawsuit is not in order to arrest you. Instead, they are looking to force you to pay them for your debts.
If you receive a notification to appear in court you will need to respond to this summons. If you ignore it, then you will have an automatic judgment placed against you. This will usually allow the debt collector to garnish your wages or take money directly from your bank account. In serious situations, if you do not appear in court or respond to the order you may be held in contempt of court. Although not directly correlated with not paying the debt, this could lead to your arrest.
The statute of limitations on debt collection is the period where you can be sued for a particular past-due debt. The statute of limitations on collecting a debt is based on where you live. In some states, it may be three years, while in other states it is six or more.
Unfortunately, the statute of limitations on expiring debt does not mean that your debt is erased. It will continue to be on your credit report and you will technically owe it. The only difference is that you can no longer be sued for the debt.
When debt becomes time-barred it means that the debt collector or creditor cannot file a lawsuit against you. Although it is not legal to do so, they often still try. Should you make a payment on the debt the statute of limitations will restart. This is why it is essential to wait to make a payment on a past-due debt and check the statute of limitations.
It is essential to know the laws that govern debt collection practices. The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a set of rules that protects consumers against unfair practices of third-party debt collectors.
For example, a debt collector may not threaten arrest or legal action against you if it is untrue. They are also only allowed to contact you about household debts like credit card bills, auto loans, medical bills, student loans, and mortgage payments. Should they call you earlier than 8 am or after 9 pm this is considered illegal, and you can bring up a counterclaim in court against them. Overall, you cannot be taken to jail for student loan debt, so know your rights and avoid admitting fault.
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? We're making guides on how to beat each one.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.