Learn How Long Student Loans Appear on Credit Reports

Bills.com Team
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Highlights


  • Federal law controls the behavior of credit bureaus.
  • Federal student loans can be reported indefinitely.
  • Private student loans follow conventional rules for delinquent debt.
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Learn When Delinquent Student Loans Will Disappear From Your Credit Report

Current and delinquent student loans appear on borrowers’ credit reports. How long a delinquent student loan will appear on a credit report depends on whether the loan is private or federal. Federal law controls how long a derogatory, the term used to describe a negative mark, can appear on a credit report. Let us start by reviewing the rules for credit reports.

Credit Report Rules

Federal law (US Code Title 15, §1681c) controls the behavior of credit reporting agencies (CRAs). The specific law is called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under FCRA §605 (a) and (b), an account in collection will appear on a consumer’s credit report for up to 7½ years. To determine when an account will be removed by the CRAs (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian and others), add 7 years to the date of first delinquency. The date of first delinquency is shown in credit reports. Subsequent activity, such as resolving the debt or one debt collector selling the debt to another collector, is irrelevant to the 7-year rule.

Some debts have a reporting period longer than 7 years, including:

  • Tax liens: 10 years if unpaid, or 7 years from the payment date
  • Bankruptcy: 10 years from the date of filing (15 U.S.C. §1681c)
  • Perkins student loans: Until paid in full (20 U.S.C. §1087cc(c)(3))
  • Direct and FFEL loans: 7 years from default or rehabilitation date (20 U.S.C. §1080a(f)(1) and 20 U.S.C. §1087e(a)(1))
  • Judgments: 7 years or the debtor’s state statute of limitations on judgments, whichever is longer

The FCRA 7-year rule is separate from state statutes of limitations for debt issues. Learn the lifespan of a judgment in your state at the Bills.com Statute of Limitations Laws by State page.

The start of the 7-year clock begins at the date of first delinquency, or if no payments are made, when the first payment was due. Review your credit report carefully to make certain the dates of first delinquency are reported correctly. Unscrupulous collection agents reset the date of first delinquency to stretch out how long a derogatory account appears on consumer’s credit report. This is illegal under the FCRA.

Just because a debt does not appear on a credit report does not mean the statute of limitations for the debt has passed. The opposite is also true: The passing of a state statute of limitations on a debt does not mean the debt may not appear on a credit report. The federal FCRA and state statutes of limitations are separate and independent of each other.

Whether a debt appears on a credit report does not establish legal liability for the debt. The opposite is also true: You may have legal liability for a debt not reported to the credit reporting agencies. Credit reports are not legal records of every debt a person owes.

Get a no-cost, no obligation analysis of your debt options from a pre-screened debt relief provider.

Private Student Loans & Credit Reports

Private student loans are treated no differently from other private debt. As mentioned above, the 7½-year rule applies to private student loan debt.

If you have a derogatory relating to a student loan, review your credit reports to verify accuracy of the date of last payment and date of default. Do this for reports generated by three reports credit reporting agencies. You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each credit bureau once every 12 months by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also purchase a copy of your credit report from the credit reporting agencies if you would like to review your report more often.

Check the Dept. of Education’s National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to see if the loan is federal. State statutes of limitations do not apply to federal loans, and are subject to collection indefinitely. Student loans not backed by federal grants or guarantees do not appear in the NSLDS, and are therefore private. Private student loans are subject to state statutes of limitations.

A private student loan falling off a credit report will not cancel the debt or make it uncollectable. Also, the date a debt falls off a credit report has no relationship to a state’s statute of limitations. See the Bills.com resource Private Student Loan Settlement to learn strategies for resolving private student loans.

Federal Student Loan Rehabilitation & Credit Reports

Delinquent federal student loans can be reported indefinitely, i.e., for as long as they are delinquent. For federal student loans, the Dept. of Education will continue its collection efforts until the loan is paid. If your student loan is federal, consider rehabilitating your loan, which should allow you to resume payments on the loan and have the default removed from your credit report. The Dept. of Education may also offer other options to help you repay your loan at a rate you can afford. Contact the Dept. of Education’s collections office to discuss the repayment options available to you.

If you fail to resolve your student loan obligations, the Dept. of Education may garnish your wages, levy your bank or credit union accounts, or place a lien on your property. If you cannot afford to make payments, or do not wish to do so, consult with an attorney in your state to discuss the risks associated with your unpaid student loan.

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27 Comments

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  • 35x35
    Feb, 2013
    Calandra
    I defaulted on my student loans in 2010. I came out of default and was on a 10-month forbearance. Now I have re-established my consolidated loan with monthly payments. On my credit report, the defaults are evident and shows removal in 2017. Since I am repaying my loans and out of default, can I write to the lenders to request removal? Is it possible? I can't wait 7 years because I want to raise my credit score to qualify for a home loan.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2013
      Bill
      What you ask about is called a pay for delete in the credit report world. Follow the link just mentioned to learn more.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2012
    Ashley
    I have a private student loan which defaulted in July of 2007. I would like to pay off this debt, but I have read that once you make one payment the 7 1/2 year clock starts over, and the time that the loan was derogatory will show for another 7 1/2 years. Is this true, or can I make a payment lets say, tomorrow, and it will only show my derogatory items on my loan until 2014? Or if I make a payment tomorrow will my derogatory items stay until almost 2019? I have been hesitant to pay off this debt because of that reason, I would just like my credit report to be free and clear of derogatory items.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      The 7½-year rule you referred is found in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The clock starts on the 7½-year rule at the date of first delinquency. It does not restart when a person makes a payment. Let us say for the sake of argument a debt becomes delinquent January 1, 2000. The person makes payments, and the debt is paid in full in 2004. The derogatory will remain on the credit report until July 1, 2007.

      The rule you referred to concerns state statutes of limitations for contracts, which have no relationship to the federal 7½-year rule.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Tania
      I had me loans paid via consolidation; the account status on my credit report is paid, closed or transferred. Is that a negative status or is it he payment history a negative status? On the payment history is states 180 days past due. Will it do any good to contact the original creditor and dispute the payment history or can I dispute that with the credit bureau?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2012
      Bill
      If the account was never 180 days past due, then you should definitely dispute a notation that says it was. If the notation is accurate, then it can remain on the report for 7½ years from the time you went delinquent.

      Paying the loans off, bringing them to a $0 balance, is a step that both insulates you from collection efforts and improves your score.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2012
    Mitch
    I defaulted on a student loan back in 2007, and now it looks like three loans instead of one on my credit report. Is that normal? I fear it is making my report look worse than it is and I can't seem to find where to fix that.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2012
      Bill
      Dispute the earlier two entries for the same debt on your credit report. Follow the link I just mentioned to learn how.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Mika
    I consolidated my loans in 2006; however, they are still showing on credit report. The consolidated ones, as well as the company that took possession of all the combined loans. So, all the loans are showing double on my credit report. Once consolidated, do the loans still suppose to show on my credit report or does this 7 1/2 year rule apply to me as well? Its shows 1st delinquency 2/2006! Does this mean it won't come off my credit report until around August of 2013? I was under the assumption that once consolidated, it would no longer be on my credit report, that only the company in which currently has all the loans would?!?! Thanks in advance for reply! :-)
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      The loan that you consolidated can continue to show on your report for the 7½ years after the first delinquency, as long as the information reported is accurate. If you paid off the loan via consolidation, the old loan should show as $0 balance.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Angela
    I just recently signed up to consolidate my defaulted loans with direct loans. If I became defaulted in August 2007 does this mean it will fall off my credit report in February 2014 or does the 7 1/2 year rule begin when payment arrangements are made?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      The key date for this type of question is the date of first delinquency. This issue has been challenged by creditors, who despite the plain language in the law want the date to be some later date. However, courts and the FTC keep returning to the plain language in the law — the date of first delinquency.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2010
    Bill
    Delinquent federal student loans can be reported on a credit report indefinitely, i.e., for as long as they are delinquent. Private student loans must follow the seven-year rule.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      sarah
      what about private student loans. If those are charged off, will those drop after 7 years?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Bill
      Private student loans are treated the same as other consumer debt. In other words, the 7½-year rule applies to private student loans.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      rachel
      i recently paid off my student loan that was in default, but it still shows on my credit report. it was paid off in mid february of 2011. i even have a statement letter this loan was back from 2004..
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Bill
      Paying-off a loan, either delinquent or not, does not remove it from a consumer's credit report. A delinquency, called a derogatory in the credit report trade, can be reported for 7½ years under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If the date of first delinquency was in February of 2004, this derogatory can remain on your credit report until the end of August 2011.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2011
      ;-)
      I just tried to dispute w Equifax about my student loan which has been paid since paid in full (due to garnishment) since July 2007. I disputed because I thought it was the Date of First Delinquency: (05/2004) would be when Equifax would the date to determine when the loan would come off from my credit report. Is this correct? Well this is what equifax replied sent to me; We have researched the credit account. Account # - 8**** The results are: Equifax verified that this item belongs to you. Additional information has been provided from the original source regarding this item. Adverse accounts that have been paid in full will automatically be deleted seven years from the date of last activity. Well you can see how a person could get confused. Please tell me which one is correct. 1st date of Del, or Date of last activity? Thanks in advance.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2011
      Bill
      Federal student loans are reported indefinitely, and then for 7 years after final payment. Private student loans, to my understanding, are treated the same as other private debt, which is to say 7½ after the date of first delinquency. Was your student loan federal or private?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2011
      :-)
      Yes my loan was a federal loan, bummer so it will be on my credit report until 2014...
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jul, 2010
    stacey
    I've had a rehabilitated loan for at least 3 years. I've paid the defaulted loan on time and they went ahead and closed that account. However it is still on my report and I was told by the representative that it will be updated and removed once my new rehabbed loan takes place. I"m going to now dispute this again. I was not aware of the The higher education act of 1965
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    Jill
    the debt has been paid since Jan 2009. Thanks for the info and I will definitely be disputing this.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    Bill
    You do not mention when the debt was paid. Sixty to 90 days is common for a credit report to reflect updated information. If it has been longer than 90 days, dispute the listing. See the Bills.com debt self-help center for a sample dispute listing letter.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2009
    Jill
    what if the student loan payments were garnished from my wages and the loan is now paid in full. It is still appearing on my credit report as transferred to government. When will this show as paid?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2009
    Mike
    The bad news: Due to changes in federal laws in 1998 and 2005, collection on student loans now have no statute of limitation and - with very limited exceptions - can no longer be erased though bankruptcy. (For details on the exceptions, visit the Department of Education’s website. The good news: There are many, often flexible, options available for student loan resolution. Depending on the specifics of the situation, student loan borrowers may be eligible for programs that offer extended repayment periods, modifications that are income-sensitive (salary based), or graduated (starting small and rise over time). Some plans also offer possibility of "rehabilitating" a defaulted loan, so that some or all negative information about the loan is expunged from the borrower's credit report if certain criteria are met. A good place to start your search is with the US Department of Education. You can find information on addressing your student loan debt on their website at: www.ed.gov. Options for addressing your student loan debt can also be found at Bills.com. Visit http://www.bills.com/student-loans/ where you will find a wealth of information and links to sites covering a wide-range of student loan related issues, as well as our Saving Center tool where you can apply online to be matched with a Bills.com pre-approved provider specializing in student loan repayment solutions.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2009
    Michelle
    I have heard the the 7 year rule for delinquent items on your credit report does not apply to student loans. Is this true? A friend of mine has delinquent loans from TCI ... would you know anything about the validity of this?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2011
      Emily
      My defaulted student loans actually did fall off my credit report after seven years. Trying to figure out how long of a "window" this created.
      0 Votes