Disputing Student Loans on Your Credit Report

Disputing Student Loans on Your Credit Report loading="lazy"

Through April 20, 2022, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax will offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com to help you protect your financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19.

Dear Experian,

I have a student loan that was reported late. 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 the 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

Although you only make one monthly payment toward each of these accounts, missing one payment means the payment is missed for every individual loan, and each account listing on your credit report will show as late. Don't panic, though, it is not as bad as it sounds.

Credit scoring systems recognize that each of the loan accounts is of the same type and effectively counts them as one loan when calculating a score. While your credit report accurately shows each individual loan as late, credit scores recognize student loans are unique and treat them differently in the calculation.

Although you explained how you plan to bring the account payments current, you didn't indicate if the lender agreed to your plan or whether 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 saying so. You can then submit a copy of that letter to Experian and request that the accounts be updated. The quickest and easiest way to dispute information on your Experian credit report is by going online to our Dispute Center. Learn more on our blog about how to dispute credit report information, along with tips and how the process works.

Be sure to also check your Equifax and TransUnion credit reports to see if the information you are disputing is being reported to them as well. If it is, you will need to submit a separate dispute with each credit reporting company.

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 if you:

  • Bring any other past-due accounts current. Your payment history is the most important factor in credit scores, so making sure all accounts are current is key.
  • Pay off any outstanding collection accounts. Although paying off a collection account does not automatically remove it from the report, some credit scoring models may exclude a collection account from the score calculation once it shows as paid in full.
  • Pay down balances on credit cards and keep them low. Your utilization rate is an important factor in scores, so keeping your revolving account balances low can help build your good credit. If possible, you should pay your balances in full each month.
  • Order your free credit score and focus on the risk factors provided. When you get your credit score from Experian, you will also get a list of the top factors that are impacting your score the most.
  • Sign up for Experian Boost . You can add positive utility, cellphone and certain streaming service payments to your Experian credit history with Experian Boost. These positive payments can help increase your score right away.

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.

Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist