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Disputing Student Loans on Your Credit Report

Dear Experian,

I have an account that was reported late for student loans. I did not realize the amount due had changed, so I continued to send the old payment amount. Once I knew I was behind, I contacted the lender and told them how I planned to get caught up. I followed through with plan and am trying to get the negative information removed because it has ruined my good credit. Each part of the loan account was reported as delinquent separately, so now my report shows seven late payments, even though I only paid the wrong amount one time. This does not seem right.

- SJB

Dear SJB,

When you apply for student loans, you actually receive a separate loan for each semester or enrollment period. Once you graduate, you may only make one payment every month, but each individual loan will appear on your credit report.

Missing One Student Loan Payment Can Result in Multiple Delinquent Accounts

Because you only make one monthly payment towards your student loans, missing one payment means the payment is missed for each of the individual loans, so each separate account listing on the report will show as late. As you can see, this makes it even more important to ensure that your student loan payment is never missed and that you double check the amount due each month.

Although you explained how you planned to bring the account payments current, you don't indicate if the lender agreed to your plan or if they said they would make changes to your credit report as a result. You should have received a written agreement from the lender to document your agreement with them.

How to Dispute Student Loans

If your lender has stated they are willing to remove the delinquencies as a courtesy, ask them to provide you with a letter stating such. You can then submit that letter to Experian and request that the accounts be updated. Learn more on our blog about how to dispute credit report information, along with tips and how the process works.

How to Bring Your Credit Scores Back Up After Delinquency

The good news is that even if the lender is unwilling to remove the delinquencies, the late payments will have less of a negative effect on your credit as time passes. You can help your credit recover by continuing to make all payments on time going forward. In addition, you can improve credit scores by:

  • Bringing any other past due accounts current
  • Paying off any outstanding collection accounts
  • Paying down balances on credit cards and keeping them low
  • Order your free credit score and focus on the risk factors provided

If you only had one instance of delinquency, and nothing else is late or carrying a high balance, your credit scores may rebound fairly quickly. If there are other issues in addition to the student loan payments, it will take longer. Just how long depends on your unique credit history.

Contact Your Lender Immediately if You are Unable to Make a Payment

Should you have trouble making a student loan payment on time in the future, be sure to contact your lender right away to explain your circumstances. There may be options available to help you stay on track. While missing one payment isn't good, the consequences of allowing your loans to go into default are far greater. Federal student loans are guaranteed by the government, so if you become seriously delinquent, the lender can file a claim with the government to recover the amount of the loans.

Once the claim is filed, the lender will report the original student loan accounts as "government claim." The government can then consolidate the debt into a new loan in order to collect the debt from you, but the status of "claim filed by government" will remain on the original loans. A status of government claim is considered derogatory and will significantly impact your credit scores.

Thanks for asking.
The "Ask Experian" team

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