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If you miss a payment on a student loan, your loan will be considered delinquent. After missing payments for a certain period of time — 270 days for most federal student loans and 120 days for most private student loans — your loan will enter default status. As of July 2021, 7.8% of all student loans are in default, according to EducationData.org.
Getting out of student loan default can be difficult, but there are a few possible strategies to help you along the way. One of these is student loan rehabilitation, which requires you to make payments for a certain period of time.
Here’s what you should know about student loan rehabilitation:
- What is student loan rehabilitation?
- Eligibility for student loan rehabilitation
- How loan rehabilitation works
- How to apply for student loan rehabilitation
- Pros of loan rehabilitation
- Cons of loan rehabilitation
- What happens after student loan rehabilitation?
- How to manage payments after rehabilitation
- Consolidation vs. rehabilitation
- Student loan rehabilitation: Frequently asked questions
What is student loan rehabilitation?
Student loan rehabilitation is a process that can help you get out of student loan default. To rehabilitate a student loan, you’ll need to make payments for nine to 10 months, depending on the type of loan you have.
If you successfully make each of these payments, the default status will be removed from your loan and from your credit history.
Learn More: How to Get Student Loan Repayment Help
Eligibility for student loan rehabilitation
Student loan rehabilitation is available for most federal student loans, including:
- Direct Loans
- Perkins Loans
- Loans made under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program
To be eligible for federal rehabilitation, you must have a federal student loan in default. Keep in mind that rehabilitation is only available once — if you default on a federal loan that’s already been rehabilitated, you won’t be able to do so again.
Check Out: Defaulted Student Loans: Can You Refinance?
How loan rehabilitation works
If your federal student loan is in default and you want to participate in the rehabilitation program, you’ll need to contact your loan holder. This might also mean dealing with a debt collection agency.
The exact requirements for student loan rehabilitation can vary somewhat depending on the type of federal student loans you have.
- If you have Direct or FFEL Loans, you must agree to make nine voluntary, reasonable, and affordable payments over the span of 10 consecutive months. Your monthly payments on a loan rehabilitation plan will generally be 15% of your annual discretionary income divided by 12. However, if you can’t afford this amount, your lender might calculate a lower alternative payment after you provide documentation of your income and expenses.
- If you have Perkins Loans, you’ll have to make full monthly payments within 20 days of your due date for nine consecutive months.
How to apply for student loan rehabilitation
If your federal student loans are owned by the Department of Education, follow these three steps to apply for rehabilitation:
- Submit your latest tax return or tax transcript. You can do this by fax or by mail. The Department of Education will use this information to determine your monthly payment amount. If you are married, live with your spouse, and file taxes separately, you’ll also need to submit your spouse’s tax returns. Additionally, if your tax returns don’t accurately represent your income, you can fill out the Loan Rehabilitation Income and Expense Form.
- Sign and return the agreement. You’ll be mailed a loan rehabilitation agreement within 10 business days of the Department of Education receiving your income information. This will include your payment amount, payment options, and agreement terms. You’ll then need to sign and return this form.
- Make on-time payments for the agreed-upon time. Once the rehabilitation agreement is in place, you’ll need to make the required monthly payments. If you successfully make each of these payments, your loan will no longer be in default. The default status will also be removed from your credit report — though any late payments will remain.
Pros of loan rehabilitation
While loan rehabilitation could be a good idea for some borrowers, it isn’t right for everyone. Here are some pros to keep in mind:
- Might lower your payments: If you have Direct or FFEL Loans, your payments on loan rehabilitation will be limited to 15% of your discretionary income — or less if you can’t afford this. This could significantly lower your monthly student loan payments to fit more comfortably in your budget.
- Will restore your eligibility for other federal benefits: If you successfully complete loan rehabilitation, you’ll regain many of the other protections that generally come with federal loans — including access to income-driven repayment (IDR) plans and student loan forgiveness programs. You’ll also be able to apply for more federal financial aid.
- Could help your credit: After rehabilitation, the default status of your loans will be removed from your credit history, which could help your credit score. Just remember that any late payments you’ve made on your loans will remain on your credit report.
Learn More: How Long it Takes to Pay Off Student Loans
Cons of loan rehabilitation
And here are a few cons to be aware of:
- Relatively long process: The process of rehabilitation can be longer compared to other options, such as loan consolidation.
- Late payments stay on your credit report: Unlike the default status, any late payments you’ve made on your loans will remain on your credit report after you’ve completed rehabilitation.
- Payments will rise afterward: While rehabilitation could lower your monthly payments and lessen the strain on your budget, your payments will return to normal 90 days after your final rehabilitation payment. Making lower payments for several months could also add to your overall repayment time.
If you’re wondering how long it’ll take to pay off your student loans after rehabilitation, enter your loan information into the student loan repayment calculator below to find out. Use the slider to see how increasing your payments can change the payoff date.
Enter loan information
If you increase your payments by $ monthly on your $ loan at %, you will pay $ a month and pay off your loan by Jan 2021.
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What happens after student loan rehabilitation?
Here’s what you can generally expect to happen after student loan rehabilitation:
- You’ll resume your original payments. Once you’ve made the required payments to rehabilitate your loan, you’ll have 90 days until your monthly payments revert back to their original amount. This means your payments will likely rise unless you opt for a different repayment plan.
- The default will be removed from your credit history. While your late payments will remain on your credit report, the removal of the default status might help your credit score.
- Wage garnishments or tax return holds will end. Once your loan is out of default, you’ll no longer be subject to wage garnishments or holds on your tax returns.
- You’ll regain eligibility for federal programs. Getting out of federal student loan default will restore your federal benefits and protections, such as access to income-driven repayment plans or student loan forgiveness programs.
How to manage payments after rehabilitation
Once your student loan has been rehabilitated, you’ll need to prepare to start making full, on-time payments so you can avoid defaulting again. You’ll generally have 90 days before your payments revert back to their original amount.
Here are a few options that could help you manage your payments going forward:
- Opt for an income-driven repayment plan. If you sign up for an income-driven repayment plan, your payments will be based on your income — similar to the payments you make while during rehabilitation. IDR plan payments are typically limited to 10% to 20% of your income. Additionally, any remaining balance could be forgiven after 20 to 25 years, depending on the plan you choose.
- Sign up for autopay. By opting for automatic payments, you won’t risk missing any of your student loan payments. Many loan servicers also provide a rate discount to borrowers who sign up for autopay.
- Consolidate your loans. If you have multiple federal student loans, you can consolidate them with a federal Direct Consolidation Loan. By doing so, you could extend your repayment term up to 30 years, which could greatly reduce your payments. Just keep in mind that you’ll pay more interest over the life of your loan with a longer term.
- Refinance your loans. Depending on your credit, you might qualify for a lower interest rate on your loans through refinancing — this could save you money on interest and even possibly help you pay off your student loans faster. Or you could opt to extend your repayment term to reduce your interest rate.
Can you qualify for refinancing after rehabilitation?
You’ll typically need good to excellent credit to be eligible for student loan refinancing — which could be difficult following a student loan default, even with successful rehabilitation.
There are also several lenders that offer refinancing for bad credit, but these loans generally come with higher interest rates compared to good credit loans.
If you decide to refinance your student loans, be sure to consider as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for your needs. Credible makes this easy — you can compare your prequalified rates from our partner lenders in the table below in two minutes.
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)||Loan terms (years)||Loan amounts||Min. credit score|
|4.54%+||N/A||10, 15, 20||$7,500 up to $200,000|
(larger balances require special approval)
|Does not disclose|
|2.15%+||1.87%+||5, 7, 10, 15, 20||$10,000 up to $250,000|
(depending on degree)
|2.39%+1||2.24%+1||5, 7, 10, 15, 20||$10,000 to $500,000|
(depending on degree and loan type)
|Does not disclose|
|2.99%+2||2.94%+2||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20||$5,000 to $300,000|
(depending on degree type)
|Does not disclose|
|2.16%+||2.11%+||5, 7, 10, 15, 20||$5,000 to $500,000||
|3.91%+5||1.80%+5||5, 10, 15, 20||$1,000 to $250,000||700|
|2.58%+3||2.39%+||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20||Minimum of $15,000||680|
|3.47%+4||2.42%+||5, 10, 15, 20||$5,000 to $250,000||670|
|2.74%+7||N/A||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20||Up to $300,000||670|
|3.05%+||3.05%+||7, 10, 15||$10,000 up to the total amount of qualified education debt||670|
|2.89%+||N/A||5, 8, 12, 15||$7,500 to $300,000||670|
|3.29%+||N/A||5, 10, 15||$7,500 up to $250,000|
(depending on highest degree earned)
|2.74%+6||2.25%6||5, 7, 10, 15, 20||$5,000 up to the full balance of your qualified education loans||Does not disclose|
All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2College Ave Disclosures | 5EDvestinU Disclosures | 3 ELFI Disclosures | 4INvestEd Disclosures | 7ISL Education Lending Disclosures | 6SoFi Disclosures
|Compare personalized rates from multiple lenders without affecting your credit score. 100% free!
Consolidation vs. rehabilitation
Another potential option to get out of student loan default is by consolidating your federal student loans. Unlike rehabilitation, federal consolidation doesn’t require you to make payments for nine or 10 months. Instead, you have two options:
- Agree to repay the consolidated loan under an IDR plan. With this option, your payments will generally be limited to 10% to 20% of your discretionary income, depending on the plan you choose. You could also have any remaining balance forgiven after 20 to 25 years. Keep in mind that if you want to consolidate a Parent PLUS Loan this way, you’ll only be able to sign up for the Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan.
- Make three consecutive, on-time, full monthly payments before you consolidate. The exact payment amount will be determined by your loan holder. Similar to payments made during rehabilitation, these payments can’t exceed what’s reasonable and affordable for your financial situation. Once these payments are made, you can choose any federal repayment plan that works for you.
Check Out: Private Student Loan Consolidation
Can consolidation or rehabilitation lower your interest rate?
Neither consolidation nor rehabilitation can reduce your interest rate — you’ll have the same interest rate you started with regardless of which option you choose. The only way to potentially lower your student loan interest rate is through refinancing, though remember that it might be hard to qualify after the damage done to your credit by default.
Just keep in mind that refinancing your federal student loans will cost you access to federal protections and benefits.
Student loan rehabilitation: Frequently asked questions
Here are the answers to several commonly asked questions regarding student loan rehabilitation:
How long does it take to rehabilitate a student loan?
This depends on the type of federal student loans you have.
- If you have Direct or FFEL Loans, you must make your agreed-upon payments for 10 months.
- If you have Perkins Loans, you must make your payments for nine months.
After you’ve made the required number of payments, your loans will no longer be in default. Keep in mind that it might also take a few weeks for the initial rehabilitation request to be processed by the Department of Education.
Will student loan rehabilitation help my credit score?
It might. If you successfully complete the loan rehabilitation program, your loan holder will ask the credit bureaus to remove the default status from your credit reports.
While late payments before your default will remain on your report, having the default status removed could still help your credit score.
Can you rehabilitate a student loan in collections?
Yes, you can. If you want to rehabilitate your student loans, you’ll need to contact the holder of your loan, which might either be your servicer or a debt collection agency.
Check Out: How Often Can You Refinance Student Loans?
How do I rehab a defaulted student loan?
To rehabilitate a student loan, you’ll need to:
- Contact your loan holder and submit the required documentation to sign up for rehabilitation.
- Sign and submit the rehabilitation agreement.
- Make the required payments for the designated amount of time — nine or 10 months, depending on the type of federal loans you have.
After you’ve made your final payment, your loan will no longer be in default.
Can you rehabilitate a student loan twice?
You can generally rehabilitate a federal student loan just once. If you have an older federal loan taken out before Aug. 14, 2008, and default again, you might be able to rehabilitate it a second time — however, the one-time limit will apply going forward.
What can I do for defaulted private student loans?
Unfortunately, private student loans aren’t eligible for federal programs like rehabilitation and consolidation. If you have private student loans in default, you’ll need to contact your lender to see what options might be available to you. Some private lenders even offer their own rehabilitation programs, but the requirements will vary by lender.
Keep in mind that many private student loan lenders will charge off loans after payments have been missed for 120 days. If this happens, the lender likely won’t offer any help for you to get out of default — so be sure to reach out to your lender before this time passes.
Keep Reading: Best Student Refinance Companies: Reviewed and Rated