When a payment is past due, it becomes a delinquent payment. For instance, if your student loan payment is due by the 15th of each month, and the 16th arrives and you haven’t paid the amount you owe, you’re generally considered to be delinquent on that loan.
Once you’re late making a payment, a late fee may be assessed, and late payments may impact your credit report.
Read on to learn more about delinquent debt and the potential consequences, as well as ways to help prevent student loans from becoming delinquent.
Credit Score Calculations and Purposes
When you apply for a loan, like a personal loan, a car loan, or a credit card, the lending institution reviews your application to make sure you’re able to repay the loan. They look at things like your income to make sure you have the financial resources to make payments, as well your outstanding debts.
If you’re applying for a secured loan (which is a loan secured by collateral like a home, car, boat and so forth), they’ll make sure the asset being used as security for the loan has enough value.
And the lender will also check your credit score. Unlike when your income is checked, your credit score doesn’t summarize whether or not you can repay a loan. Instead, it provides a snapshot to a lending institution about how well you’ve upheld your financial commitments in the past. (it’s worth noting that most federal student loans do not require a credit check.)
If the lender sees that, to date, you’ve met your financial obligations, that can make you look like a responsible borrower. But if your credit history isn’t as clean as it could be, say you have delinquent credit, this shoots up a red flag; things like late payments can impact your credit for months or even years.
As a result, the lender may deny the loan, approve less than what you need, or offer you a higher interest rate than what’s being awarded to people with excellent credit scores.
Although there are multiple calculations that can be used to determine creditworthiness, FICO® scores are the most commonly used. This base score can range from 300 to 850; the higher the base score, the better your credit is considered to be.
Here is the general formula used to determine your base FICO score:
• As much as 35%: payment history
• About 30%: what you currently owe
• Up to 15%: length of your credit history
• Up to 10%: types of credit you have
• Up to 10%: new credit applications you’ve made
There are three major credit reporting agencies. Besides Experian, there is TransUnion and Equifax. According to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are allowed to obtain a free copy of your credit report each year.
As you read your credit report, if you find errors, it’s important to report and correct them with the credit bureaus.
More about Delinquent Payments
What is delinquent debt? If someone is late on a payment, there can be fees assessed. If payments continue to be late, additional fees may be added. Delinquent payments may also cause your loan to switch to a penalty APR, which can significantly increase the interest you owe and make it harder to pay down the balance.
Late payments of 30 days or more may end up on your credit report, which can be damaging, and may negatively impact your credit score. If the amount you owe is sent to collections, that fact could appear on your credit report for seven years. If you’ve missed a loan payment and are delinquent, you can contact the lender to discuss how you can get back on track.
Late Student Loan Payment
Just as you don’t want to make a delinquent payment on a loan for your house or car, you don’t want to be late on your student loan payments. Specific consequences vary by lender; you can check with your loan servicer for exact details.The consequences may be different for private student loans vs. federal student loans.
In addition to typically involving a late fee, a late student loan payment may appear on your credit report. If your federal student loan payment is 90 days late, it will then be reported to all three credit bureaus. However, private student loan late payments are often reported to a credit bureau when they are 30 to 45 days past due.
If your late federal student loan payment snowballs into multiple ones, and you missed making payments for 270 days (about nine months), your federal student loans go from delinquent to being in default. This means that your loans are now due in full, along with accrued interest, fees charged by collection agencies, and any other fees, fines, and penalties.
To collect this amount, the government can garnish up to 15% of your pay, and/or take your tax refund to put towards the debt. They can do the same to your loan co-signer, if you have one. And, your loan servicer can even sue you.
If you know you’re going to miss a payment, you can contact your student loan servicer. If you’re undergoing financial hardship, perhaps because of a job loss or medical emergency, you can apply for federal student loan deferment, which can postpone payments or reduce them.
If the situation is less serious, and you’ve missed a payment because of your hectic schedule, you might find it helpful to set up automatic loan payments to avoid delinquent debt.
Here’s a third scenario: Let’s say that you’re meeting your student loan payments, but the amount you’re paying every month is higher than you’d like. In that case, you could apply for student loan refinancing. If you qualify, you could have the option to select a more manageable monthly payment or get a lower interest rate.
A student loan refinance calculator can help you determine how much you might save.
Should you refinance your student loans? You may want to think twice if you have federal student loans. That’s because if you refinance your federal loans with a private lender, you will forfeit all of your federal benefits, including programs like income-driven repayment plans.
Recommended: Student Loan Refinancing Guide
Refinancing Student Loans with SoFi
When you refinance your student loans, you can consolidate multiple loans into one loan with one convenient payment. And you may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate, which could help you save money. SoFi offers loans with low fixed and variable rates, flexible loan terms, and no fees. And as a SoFi member, you also get free perks like career coaching and financial advice.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.
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Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .