The number of people who default on student loans is declining, but you’d probably still be surprised by the stats.
According to the U.S Department of Education, just over one in every 10 college students defaults on their loans—and that’s just within two years of entering their repayment period.
A longer-term study from nonprofit policy organization the Brookings Institution showed defaults are even more common a few years down the road.
The class entering college in 1996, for example, had a 15 percent rate of default within 20 years. The class of 2004? They’re projected to default at a rate of 25.7 percent.
Defaulting on a student loan simply means you failed to repay it. The exact point that you move from just being “late” on your payments to going into “default” varies by loan product.
On most federal loans (except for Perkins loans), defaulting is when you’re behind on payments for at least 270 days. On private loans, you’d have to ask your lender.