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Do Student Loans Go Away After 7 Years? (2024 Guide)

Hannah Locklear | April 11, 2024

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Fact-checked by George Simons, JD/MBA

George Simons
Co-Founder of SoloSuit
George Simons, JD/MBA

George Simons is the co-founder and CEO of SoloSuit. He has helped Americans protect over $1 billion from predatory debt lawsuits. George graduated from BYU Law school in 2020 with a JD/MBA. In his spare time, George likes to cook, because he likes to eat.

Summary: Even if the statute of limitations on your student debt has passed, the debt can still show up on your credit report for up to seven years. There is no statute of limitations on federal student loans, but private student loans have an average statute of limitations of six years. SoloSuit can help you respond to a student debt lawsuit.

If you took out student loans to pay for an undergraduate or graduate degree, you may have been surprised to discover that student loan debt impacts your credit and will appear on your credit report. Many people are surprised by this because of the notion that student loans are “good” debt, and that these debts are treated differently than credit card debt and personal loan debt.

Regardless of whether student loan debt is “good” or “bad,” it will impact your credit report.

Many consumers with student loan debt are curious about how long the debt stays on their credit report. For example, some people ask, “Will my student loan debt ever go away? Will it stop appearing on my credit report after seven years?” This article will answer these questions and share additional information about student loans.

Let's jump right in.

How long does a student loan stay on my credit report?

The short answer is this: unpaid student loans will stay on your credit report for 7 years. However, for student loans that were paid off on time, this info will stay on your report for 10 years.

§ 605 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act governs how long negative marks should remain on a credit report, and section 430A of the Higher Education Act of 1965 adds to these rules specifically for reporting student loan information to credit bureaus and institutions of higher education.

Under these laws, we find the answer to the question – do student loans fall off my credit report after 7 years? Let’s look at the specifics:

  • A defaulted student loan reported by the Secretary or a guaranty agency can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years from the date the claim was paid to the loan holder.
  • If a borrower re-enters repayment after default and then defaults again, the 7-year period is calculated from the date of the subsequent default.

Understanding these rules is essential for managing your credit score and navigating the complexities of student loans. Remember, student loans can significantly impact your credit history, so it's important to stay informed and proactive in managing your education debt.

Other key aspects of student loan credit reporting, as outlined in 430A of the Higher Education Act of 1965, include:

  • Exchange of Information: The Secretary of Education, along with guaranty agencies, lenders, and holders of student loans, must share information with credit bureaus. This includes the status of your student loans, such as total amount, repayment status, and any defaults.
  • Accuracy and Fairness: Before any information is shared, its accuracy and completeness must be verified. It's also ensured that no unfair or harassing collection practices are used based on this information.
  • Updating Credit Bureaus: If there are any changes or objections regarding the loan information, credit bureaus must be promptly updated. This helps maintain the accuracy of your credit report.
  • Notice of Default: If a loan goes into default, the borrower is notified before this information is shared with credit bureaus. Borrowers have a grace period of at least 30 days to enter into repayment before their default status is reported.
  • Disclosure to Institutions: Information about student borrowers can also be shared with educational institutions they attended, to assist in locating borrowers or encouraging repayment to avoid defaults.

Private and federal student loans will likely appear on your credit report with each of the “Big 3” credit companies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. A “trade line” will appear on your credit report for each loan you took. A trade line is essentially a summary of a particular type of debt. So, for example, if you have multiple private and public student loans, each loan will have a trade line on your credit report. The trade line typically highlights the following info:

  • Total balance owed
  • Your payment history
  • The origination date of the loan
  • The company reporting the debt

As we mentioned above, a defaulted student loan debt typically stays on your credit report for 7 years from the date of the first missed payment, but there are exceptions, such as Perkins loans, which may stay on your report until they’ve been paid off.

The Federal Perkins Loan Program offered low-interest loans to students in need, but stopped giving new loans after September 30, 2017.

Do student loans ever go away?

No, student loans do not just disappear with time—at least not on their own.

Student loans can stay with you longer than credit card debt and other loans. Private and federal student loans are not equal. Suppose you took out a Federal Direct Loan, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, or Federal Perkins Loans. In that case, you have some avenues for the debt to reduce or go away sooner.

Some employers, repayment plans, and repayment periods can qualify you for debt forgiveness. Some include:

  • Public service loan forgiveness (PSLF): Generally, if you work for the public service for ten years and stick to your income-driven repayment plan for 120 months, you may be forgiven the remainder of the debt. Public service employers include the federal government, the state, local and tribal governments, and some non-profit organizations. You can check the Student Aid website for specific qualifications.

  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness: There's an arrangement to forgive up to $17,500 in debt for qualifying teachers who teach qualifying subjects at qualifying schools. You should have taught full-time for five years in a low-income education service agency, secondary, or elementary school to be eligible. Typically, you can't qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness and PSLF during the same period.

  • Closed School Discharge: If you enrolled in an institution that closed its operations shortly after you withdrew or were still a student, you might qualify for debt forgiveness. You may find qualifying loans and instructions here.

See this Student Aid summary for other situations where your federal student loan can be discharged or forgiven. You're probably thinking about the new student loan forgiveness program proposed by the Biden administration. Below, we explain how it works.

Respond to a student loan debt collection lawsuit in just 15 minutes.

How does Biden's student loan forgiveness plan work?

In August 2022, President Joe Biden announced that student loan borrowers would have up to $20,000 of their student debt forgiven. This forgiveness plan only applies to the following types of borrowers:

  • Only federal student loan borrowers will benefit from the plan. Private loans will not be forgiven as a part of the new program.
  • Only borrowers that make less than $125,000 a year, and married couples or heads of households that make less than $250,000 a year will be automatically eligible for $10,000 of debt forgiveness. The income threshold will pull from 2020 or 2021 tax years.
  • If a borrower meets the qualifications above and also received a Pell Grant during enrollment, they will be eligible for up to $20,000 in student debt forgiveness.

That being said, in order to qualify for the forgiveness plan, borrowers must apply to the program and prove eligibility. The debt won't automatically be forgiven.

However, this plan was found to be unconstitutional and was essentially put on hold. The Supreme Court made this ruling in June 2023, finding the plan was outside the scope of the HEROES Act. So no borrowers have received the specified relief.

How long will an unpaid student loan stay on my credit report?

Private and federal student loans will likely appear on your credit report with each of the “Big 3” credit companies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. A “trade line” will appear on your credit report for each loan you took. A trade line is essentially a summary of a particular type of debt. So, for example, if you have multiple private and public student loans, each loan will have a trade line on your credit report. The trade line typically highlights the following info:

  • Total balance owed
  • Your payment history
  • The origination date of the loan
  • The company reporting the debt

Typically, a defaulted debt, including student loan debt, will be taken off your credit report 7 years from the date of the first missed payment. However, it is essential to understand that the 7 year period applies to federal student loans from the date of default OR from the date the loan was transferred from the guarantor of a Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) to the Department of Education. In contrast, if you defaulted on a private student loan, it will remain on your credit report for 7.5 years.

This means if you took out, and subsequently defaulted on a Perkins loan, the tradeline will continue to show until the student loan is paid off, even after 7.5 years have elapsed. The only way to remove a Perkins loan from your credit report is to pay the loan off or to consolidate the debt with another loan.

Is there a statute of limitations for a debt appearing on your credit report?

This is a fairly common question highlighting the confusion associated with the term “statute of limitations.” The statute of limitations on student loan debt is the time period that a lender or debt collector has to sue someone for that debt. It is important to note that the time limit to file a lawsuit and the time associated with a debt appearing on a credit report are unrelated.

In other words, when the statute of limitations on a student loan expires, the borrower can no longer be sued for this debt. However, it does not mean a debt will be, or should be, removed from their credit report.

So what is the statute of limitations on student loans? Keep reading to find out.

The statute of limitations on student loans varies by state

First of all, you should know that public loans (i.e., loans disbursed and managed through the federal government) are not subject to a statute of limitations. If you take out a federal student loan, the government can come after you for decades. This means that federal student loan borrowers can be sued at any time for their debt. The government can also take other actions to collect the debt owed, such as wage garnishment or seizing tax returns.

Private student loans are different.

Private student loans are, in fact, subject to a statute of limitations. The applicable limitations period will be determined by either the state in which you reside or the state that controls the loan agreement. That being said, the statute of limitations on private student loans ranges from three to 10 years, but on average, it's six years.

Keep in mind that, even if the statute of limitations on your student loans has passed, lenders and collectors can still contact you about paying off the debt. However, they can no longer sue you for it.

To find out the statute of limitations on your student loan debt, use the calculator below:

Statute of Limitations Calculator

Select your state.

Choose the debt type.

Select the last day you made a payment.

The Satute of Limitations

This calculator is for educational purposes only.

How to deal with collection agencies

If you fail to make a student loan payment, or miss multiple payments, don't be surprised if a debt collector contacts you. Student loans receive virtually the same treatment as other loans when the borrower fails to make payments. Whether you have private or federal loans, they can end up with a debt collector. Still, there are important steps you can take to remedy the missed payments depending on the type of student loans you took out.

If you took out private student loans, there is no standard option or action to take when dealing with a collection agency aside from paying what is owed. However, you may be able to negotiate with the debt collector and try to establish a reasonable payment plan.

You should also know that a debt collector trying to collect payments on a private student loan generally are unable to:

  • Garnish your wages without a court order
  • Garnish your Social Security
  • Obtain your federal or state tax refund(s)
  • Block you from applying for and receiving government student loans to return to school

On the other hand, if you took out federal student loans, you may have additional options when dealing with a federal student loan collector. These options include:

  1. Rehabilitation: The debt collector will take your loans out of default status contingent upon making consecutive on-time payments. Generally, you can only rehabilitate a loan once. It is vital to successively make the payments on time since rehabilitation is the only way to remove the default notation from your credit history.
  2. Consolidation: When you consolidate your defaulted loans, you effectively pay off the default loan by taking out a new loan with new repayment terms.
  3. Repayment: This is the fastest and most efficient way to settle your outstanding student loan debt if you can afford to pay your defaulted federal loans back. Under some circumstances, your debt collector may be willing to waive some of the associated late fees and other collection expenses.

If you're being sued for a student loan debt, use SoloSuit to respond.

To learn more about how to respond to a debt lawsuit, check out this video:

Frequently asked questions about student loan debt collectors

Some consumers find that the debt increases after debt collectors take over. Here's why this may happen.

Can collection agencies charge more than you owe?

Yes, and no. When debt collectors acquire your debt, they must follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). According to this act, they may add collection fees and court costs to the original amount if the court allows. But they cannot arbitrarily ask you to pay more without documented proof of the collection fees.

Can collection agencies charge interest?

Yes. Debt collectors can legally charge interest on the debt even after it goes to collections. The interest rate should be similar to the one in the contract you signed with the original creditor. The agreement usually has a limit to how much interest can be applied. Different states cap the rates at specific amounts in cases with no stated maximum limits (as with medical bills).

Do I have to pay collection agency fees?

Unless you work out a repayment plan that forgives collection fees, you have no option but to pay. However, you can negotiate with the debt collector to lower the principal amount. Remember, they bought the debt for much lower than they are asking. The room to negotiate is expansive. But you can't force a debt collector to accept your offer.

How can you beat debt collectors?

It's always wise to ask for debt validation from every debt collector who contacts you. As you have seen, the amount of debt can change in the hands of debt collectors. Don't just take their word for it. Instead, request for verification by sending a Debt Validation Letter.

If a debt collector sues you, use SoloSuit's Answer to file a quick, professional response with the court. It takes only fifteen minutes to create your response with the SoloSuit web app.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

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