Student Loan Statute Of Limitations Timelines (By State) (2022)

Student Loan Statute Of Limitations Timelines (By State) (1)

If you’ve got student loans in default, ignoring the debt is rarely the right answer. Federal student loan default can lead to garnished wages, tax refunds, and even garnished social security checks. And they don’t go away when you ignore them.

However, private student loans may be subject to a statute of limitations on debt collection. After several years in default, the debts could become “uncollectible.” In other words, collectors can no longer sue or use legal means to collect the debt.

If you have old student loans in default, you need to understand the rules governing the statute of limitations on student loan debt in your state and how they apply to you. Below, we break down how the rules work and list the student loan statute of limitations timelines for each state.

Table of Contents

What Is A Statute Of Limitations On Debt?

Statute Of Limitations On Student Loan Debt

Federal Student Loans

Private Student Loans

Private Student Loan Statute Of Limitations Timelines

Beware Of Zombie Debt!

What To Do If You Have Student Loans In Default

Answer All Lawsuits Against You

Consider Settling Private Debt In Default

Get Federal Student Loans Out Of Default

What Is A Statute Of Limitations On Debt?

The statute of limitations on debt refers to the amount of time that a creditor can sue you if you have been in default. Once the statute of limitations has been reached, the creditor has no way to engage the legal system to get you to repay the debt.

Of course, you still owe the debt even after the statute of limitations has been reached. But creditors lose all their “teeth” once the statute of limitations has been reached.

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Once the debt is “time-barred” (meaning the statute of limitations is passed), the creditor cannot sue you or use the legal system to garnish payment from you. Any further requests for payment are all bark and no bite.

Statute Of Limitations On Student Loan Debt

So is there a statute of limitations on your student debt? Well it will depend heavily on the kind of student loans that you have. Below you'll see that the answer is very different for federal borrowers than for those with private student debt.

Federal Student Loans

Unfortunately, federal student loans don’t have any statute of limitations. Your student loan servicer can sue you (and garnish payments from you) if you fail to make payments on your debt. Federal student loan debt never expires.

Borrowers who have student loans in default could be subject to having wages garnished, or tax refunds withheld. Borrowers may even have their Social Security payments garnished (which can be a huge problem for parents or grandparents who signed a Parent PLUS loan).

As already noted, ignoring federal loans won't make them go away. So you'll need to have a plan to revive your federal student loans in default so you can get rid of them once and for all.

Private Student Loans

Unlike federal loans, private student loansdo have a statute of limitations. The time for a debt to become time-barred varies from state to state. Some states have limitations as short as three years, while others keep debt “active” for up to 20 years (looking at you Maryland...). The most common timeframe is 6 years.

If you have private student loans in default, and you think they may be time-barred, consult a bankruptcy or consumer advocacy attorney in your state. A lawyer can help you figure out whether your private student loan debt is past the statute of limitations. They can also give you legal advice if you’re facing a suit for time-barred debt.

Furthermore, be careful in "resetting the clock". If you make a payment or other action, you could be resetting the clock on your debt. Again, speak to a lawyer in your state.

For a full list of the laws, check out this guide: Student Loan Statute of Limitations Laws.

Private Student Loan Statute Of Limitations Timelines

Here's a state-by-state breakdown of private student loan statute of limitations timelines. Note that other types of debt may be subject to different limitations.

State

Statute of Limitations

Alabama

6 years

Alaska

3 years

Arizona

6 years

Arkansas

5 years

California

4 years

Colorado

6 years

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Connecticut

6 years

Deleware

6 years

District of Columbia

3 years

Florida

5 years

Georgia

6 years

Hawaii

6 years

Idaho

5 years

Illinois

10 years

Indiana

6 years

Iowa

10 years

Kansas

5 years

Kentucky

15 years

Louisiana

3 years

Maine

6 years

Maryland

3 years

Massachusetts

20 years

Michigan

6 years

Minnesota

6 years

Mississippi

3 years

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Missouri

10 years

Montana

8 years

Nebraska

5 years

Nevada

6 years

New Hampshire

6 years

New Jersey

6 years

New Mexico

6 years

New York

6 years

North Carolina

3 years

North Dakota

6 years

Ohio

8 years

Oklahoma

5 years

Oregon

6 years

Pennsylvania

4 years

Rhode Island

10 years

South Carolina

3 years

South Dakota

6 years

Tennessee

6 years

Texas

4 years

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Utah

6 years

Vermont

6 years

Virginia

5 years

Washington

6 years

West Virginia

10 years

Wisconsin

6 years

Wyoming

10 years

Beware Of Zombie Debt!

Even if the statute of limitations on student loan debt has passed, creditors may still legally contact you. Whatever you do, don’t agree to make payments on debt that has already passed your state's student loan statute of limitations timeline.

Time-barred student loans can become "zombie debt" (i.e. dead debt brought back to like) if you make a payment on the loan. Suddenly, the collector will have legal means to collect the debt again.

Instead of making a payment, request a debt verification letter. This letter should include the name of the original creditor, the original amount owed and the name of the current collector. This information can help you figure out whether the debt is as old as you think it is.

If you’re having trouble understanding a collection agent, consider enlisting the help of a lawyer. You can search for a lawyer using the American Bar Association's Find Legal Aid tool online or through the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA), which includes lawyers that specialize in consumer protection.

What To Do If You Have Student Loans In Default

If you’ve got debts in default, you'll need to figure out a plan to get the loans out of default or out of your life. And this is especially true if there is no statute of Limitations on student loan debts that you owe. Here are a few recommended actions to take.

Answer All Lawsuits Against You

Whether you have federal or private debt, it's critical to answer any lawsuit that comes against you. Even if you think the statute of limitations on the debt is long gone, you need to answer the suit.

A judge may not realize that the debt is time-barred and may rule in favor of your creditor. When a judge rules in favor of the creditor, the debt becomes collectible. You can either represent yourself in court, or enlist the help of a lawyer who can advocate on your behalf.

If you have reason to believe that some of your private loans have passed the statute of limitations on student loan debt, inform the collector that you will not make payments on it. Then take the following steps:

  • Do not make partial payments on time-barred debt. Do not agree to pay the debt in portions. If it is important for you to pay the debt for moral reasons, wait until you can afford to pay the debt in full. Enlist the help of a lawyer to help you craft a settlement plan so the creditor can’t come back after you later for unpaid interest and fees.
  • Send creditors a cease and desist letter. Once you have informed the creditor that the debt is time-barred, send them a cease and desist letter via certified mail. This letter should inform them to not contact you again except to confirm receipt of the letter or to inform of any legal action being taken.

Related: The 34 Student Loan Collectors And How To Contact Them

Consider Settling Private Debt In Default

If your private student loans are in default, andaren’t time-barred, you may want to try a settlement option. In a settlement, the borrower agrees to pay a certain amount of money (usually less than the total amount owed) if the creditor agrees to waive the right to sue for further money.

Since settlements are legal agreements, it's usually best to hire a bankruptcy attorney or a settlement lawyer to walk you through this process.

Get Federal Student Loans Out Of Default

Remember, federal debt isn't subject to your state's student loan statute of limitations timeline. Plus, in order to qualify for most student loan forgiveness programs, you need to be making payments on your loans.

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For these reasons, you'll want to take steps as soon as possible to get your federal loans out of default. Thankfully, all Direct federal student loan borrowers are eligible to join Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans. Depending on your income level, you may qualify for lower payments to help you get out of default and back on track.

It takes just nine reasonable payments (for those living in poverty, the payment may be as small as $5 per month) to get a federal loan out of default. Learn the 5 easy steps it takes to get federal student loans out of default.

FAQs

What is the statute of limitations on private student loans in NY? ›

Private student loans are generally subject to the statute of limitations for breach of a written contract (or promissory note), which in New York is 6-years from the date of breach.

Will defaulted student loans be forgiven? ›

Keep an eye out for guidance from your loan servicer. Do student loans in default qualify for forgiveness? Yes, all defaulted borrowers are eligible for forgiveness.

How long before student loans are written off? ›

Typically, a defaulted debt, including student loan debt, will be taken off your credit report after 7.5 years from the date of the first missed payment. Though, it is important to understand that the 7.5 year period applies to private student loans.

What is the statute of limitations on federal student loans? ›

Federal student loans have no statute of limitations, but private loans do, with lengths varying from state to state. When collecting a debt, a statute of limitations refers to how long a creditor has to sue for repayment.

What is the statute of limitations on debt in the state of Illinois? ›

According to Illinois law, the statute of limitations on credit card debt is five years. Statutes of limitations are used by all states to prevent legal action on claims that have become old or "stale." A state may have dozens of different statutes of limitations applying to hundreds of different types of claims.

What is the statute of limitations on debt in New York State? ›

Statute of Limitations in New York

Thanks to a law passed in 2021, the statute of limitations of debt in New York is three years, which means that's how much time a debt collector has to file a lawsuit to recover the debt through the court system. The statute of limitations used to be six years.

Do student loans expire after 20 years? ›

Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven if you haven't repaid your loan in full after 20 years or 25 years, depending on when you received your first loans. You may have to pay income tax on any amount that is forgiven.

Can you dispute student loans after 7 years? ›

Student loans don't go away after seven years. There is no program for loan forgiveness or cancellation after seven years. But if you recently checked your credit report and are wondering, "why did my student loans disappear?" The answer is that you have defaulted student loans.

What student loans are not eligible for forgiveness? ›

Private student loans are not eligible for loan forgiveness. If you consolidated federal loans into a private loan, the Education Department notes, the consolidated private loan is not eligible for debt relief.

How do I know if my student loans will be forgiven? ›

To be eligible for forgiveness, you must have federal student loans and earn less than $125,000 annually (or $250,000 per household). Borrowers who meet that criteria can get up to $10,000 in debt cancellation. If you also received a Pell Grant during your education, you can qualify for up to $20,000 in forgiveness.

Can student loans garnish Social Security? ›

By law, Social Security can take retirement and disability benefits to repay student loans in default. Social Security can take up to 15% of a person"s benefits. However, the benefits cannot be reduced below $750 a month or $9,000 a year. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cannot be offset to repay these debts.

Do student loan debts expire? ›

Why Federal Student Loans Don't Expire. If you're wondering “when does my student loan expire?” the answer, for federal loans, is never. That's right — there's no statute of limitations for collections on federal student loans.

Can student loans be discharged after 10 years? ›

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was established in 2007 to help borrowers pay off their student loan debt easier and faster. Under the federal program, eligible borrowers can have their loans discharged after 10 years if they meet eligibility requirements.

Are student loans automatically forgiven after 25 years? ›

Loan Forgiveness

The maximum repayment period is 25 years. After 25 years, any remaining debt will be discharged (forgiven). Under current law, the amount of debt discharged is treated as taxable income, so you will have to pay income taxes 25 years from now on the amount discharged that year.

Can student loans be statute barred? ›

The Limitation Act says that the limitation period for student loans is six years. Old-style student loans usually became due for repayment in the April following the conclusion of your course, and any limitation period could not begin until after you missed a payment on your loan.

Can you get student loans out of collections? ›

You can get federal student loans out of collections by negotiating a lump sum payoff, applying for loan consolidation, or entering into the loan rehabilitation program. There's only one option to remove private student loans from a collection agency: settlement.

How long before a debt is uncollectible in Illinois? ›

On debts based on written contracts, the statute of limitation is 10 years. On unwritten contracts, it's 5 years.

What is the statute of limitations on a Judgement in Illinois? ›

Illinois, like every other state, has its own statute of limitations on how long a judgment can last. If a judgment was entered against you in Illinois, it lasts for seven years from the date of entry. Once the seven-year date hits, the creditor must file a motion to "revive" the judgment.

Can I legally write off my debt? ›

If you apply for an administration order, you may be able to have some of your debt written off. This is called a composition order. You can ask the judge for a composition order or the judge may decide to give you one after looking at your financial circumstances.

Do private student loans expire? ›

Private student loans don't go away unless you pay them off, but in most cases, they'll fall off your credit report after seven years. But keep in mind that lenders can still contact you to collect an old debt, even if it's decades old and they can no longer take you to court over it.

What happens if I don't pay my private student loans? ›

The government can take you to court, and you may have to pay court and lawyer fees. Collections. The loan servicer can send your account to a collections agency. If that happens, the collections agency will work aggressively to collect the amount owed, and you will also have to pay collections fees.

Can private student loans be forgiven after 10 years? ›

No, private student loans can't be forgiven after 10 years, even if you've kept up with your monthly repayments or are facing economic hardship. This also applies to borrowers who are employed in the public service sector, such as working for a not-for-profit organization or within a branch of government.

Is there student loan forgiveness for private loans? ›

Private student loans are not eligible for loan forgiveness.

Do student loans expire after 20 years? ›

Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven if you haven't repaid your loan in full after 20 years or 25 years, depending on when you received your first loans. You may have to pay income tax on any amount that is forgiven.

Do student loans have maturity dates? ›

Do student loans have maturity dates? For most federal student loan types, after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you have a six-month grace period (sometimes nine months for Perkins Loans) before you must begin making payments.

Can student loans be statute barred? ›

The Limitation Act says that the limitation period for student loans is six years. Old-style student loans usually became due for repayment in the April following the conclusion of your course, and any limitation period could not begin until after you missed a payment on your loan.

Do student loans drop off after 7 years? ›

Defaulted federal student loans either fall off seven years after the date of default, or seven years after the date the loan was transferred from the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) to the Department of Education.

How can I get out of paying student loans? ›

  1. 7 best ways to get out of student loan debt. ...
  2. Look into student loan forgiveness programs. ...
  3. Apply for an income-driven repayment plan. ...
  4. Research federal loan cancellation or discharge. ...
  5. Ask your employer for repayment help. ...
  6. Consolidate your federal loans. ...
  7. Refinance your student loans. ...
  8. Take on a side hustle.
Feb 4, 2022

Can you dispute student loans after 7 years? ›

Student loans don't go away after seven years. There is no program for loan forgiveness or cancellation after seven years. But if you recently checked your credit report and are wondering, "why did my student loans disappear?" The answer is that you have defaulted student loans.

Does Navient settle student loans? ›

What kinds of settlements does Navient offer? Navient may accept settlement for charged-off loans, including those in default or extremely delinquent. However, they won't settle loans in deferment, repayment, or forbearance. The same also applies to loans that have an interest-rate only repayment plan.

Is Navient private or federal? ›

Is Navient Federal or Private? While Congress originally created Sallie Mae to support the federal student loan program, it was eventually privatized. Navient is a private company that the U.S. Department of Education once hired to service its federal loans.

How do I get rid of Navient private student loans? ›

‍There are three ways to get rid of Navient private student loans without paying the balance in full: Qualify for debt cancellation, negotiate a settlement, or file student loan bankruptcy.

How do I know if my student loans will be forgiven? ›

To be eligible for forgiveness, you must have federal student loans and earn less than $125,000 annually (or $250,000 per household). Borrowers who meet that criteria can get up to $10,000 in debt cancellation. If you also received a Pell Grant during your education, you can qualify for up to $20,000 in forgiveness.

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