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Messages - CuldesacElephant

My student loans (all federal) have been in default for a long while (since April 2016), and I am extremely scared about my current situation. I'd really appreciate some confirmation and any other help.

Yesterday I got a letter in the mail from a company called Alltran (it was dated Feb 5, 2019) about my student loans, specifically the Perkins loans I got from my university. I did some research and found out they are a collections company that my university gave my loans to. They said I have 30 days (Mar 7, 2019) to "dispute the validity of the debt". I have not responded to them yet.

I've been up reading random articles for about 12 hours now, and I think I now understand how to get out of default.

From what I understand, there are two ways to get out of default (aside from paying everything in full): consolidation or rehabilitation.

Consolidation doesn't cost money, but can take 2 to 3 months to process, and you aren't eligible if you have wage garnishment. Your defaulted loans will stay on your credit report.

Rehabilitation is where you contact your loan servicers, tell them you want to rehabilitate the loan, and agree to a monthly payment that you must make on-time 9 months in a row, after which your loans are out of default. Your defaulted loans are removed from your credit report.

After using one of those two methods and your loans are out of default, you are then eligible for IBR (or other income-driven repayment programs) and can get a monthly payment as low as $0.

Is all of the above correct?

I also have five short follow-up questions:

If I know I'm not going to be able to get money to pay the loans for 9 months in order to rehabilitate, should I consolidate ASAP? I'm assuming yes, before Alltran tries to garnish my wages.

If I do go ahead and consolidate ASAP, will I still owe the collections fees that the collections company charged me with?

How long before student loan collections companies try to garnish your wages (specifically Alltran if you know about them)? If it makes any difference, remember I've been in default since April 2016, and the letter is dated Feb 5, 2019.

If I am able to get money to pay the loans for 9 months and can rehabilitate, after I'm out of default can I then consolidate and not be in collections anymore? If yes, after I consolidate will I still owe the collections fees that the collections company charged me?

I will try to respond to any questions that come up, but I have been up for a very long time stressing out and reading about all this, so it is likely that I will fall asleep very soon and won't see any responses until tomorrow.

Below is my background/situation if anyone is interested. You can ignore it if you want.

I don't have a job, my family is poor, and I have $50,000 in defaulted federal student loans (none of them are private). I made some really stupid decisions in college and hung out with some people who had a negative influence on me. I dropped out of college in 2014 and couldn't find a job, and I soon spiraled into deep depression. Part of the depression came from my student loans. No one in my family went to college, and no one in my family knew anything about finances, loans, or anything like that. Since I had zero clue about anything and I had no one to guide me, I ended up defaulting. I didn't know what the word default meant until I was in it. Of course, if I knew what I do now, I would have applied for IBR after dropping out. I ended up with a minimum wage job a while back that treat me like crap that made my depression worse, and after about two years I quit and moved in with my grandma. That was in 2016, so I've been living with her for almost three years now. My depression kept getting worse and worse, and I kept getting rejected from jobs. Fast forward to today, and I've decided to become a web developer to lift myself out of poverty. I've been learning programming for a couple months now, I'm really enjoying it, I'm actually sticking with it, and I haven't been depressed since I now have a goal to strive towards. But now I have this collections company looming over me, I'm extremely stressed out, and I'm starting to get extremely depressed again.