What can happen if you default on a federal student loan?

You are “in default” on your federal student loan if you have not paid in 270 days (approximately nine months).  Your wages can be garnished or your tax refunds seized.

How do you stop seizure of your tax refunds?

student loan

Tax refund seized

You can request an offset refund, but there are limitations.  Here are a few examples:

  • You filed for bankruptcy and the case is still open, or the student loan was discharged in bankruptcy.
  • You repaid the loan.
  • The student loan is not yours – the Social Security number attached is incorrect.
  • You are in a repayment agreement with the Department of Education and have started making payments as required.
  • You are totally and permanently disabled.
  • The loan isn’t enforceable.

If you fit the bill, you’ll need to complete a student loan tax offset hardship refund form and provide proof of your hardship. You also can contact the Treasury Offset Program at 800-304-3107 for more information.

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Diane L. Drain

Diane L. Drain, bankruptcy attorney, retired law professor, mentor and community spokesperson.

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