Student debt accounts for one of the largest percentages of total American fiscal debt in these United States. It’s quite imposing, and because of that, many might feel they can’t pay it off. In some cases, some just outright won’t. For the most part though, it’s generally economic hardship and the daunting prospect of paying off such a large sum that makes many shudder, and even though there are generous payment plans, some think ignoring is the best solution.

Last week, one Paul Aker showed up on the news referencing his call to arrest because he didn’t pay back student loans (of 30 years in age too). Shocked, of course, this lead to an appearance on FOX news discussing his situation. A scary prospect indeed, because many young Americans face problems with student debt. Aker though is an example of what happens when you ignore the system entirely, and the following consequences of refusing to pay back loans.

It should be understood a few things can and can’t happen. Firstly, while one cannot go to jail for not paying a student loan, not paying still puts them in debt. As such, this may lead to a court order to appear before a judge because of said debt, and NOT appearing is what may cause jail time.

What happens before then is generally a lengthy list of the government attempting to collect on defaulted debt. It should be noted students will have many, many options to repay their loans before this, and often (so long as it isn’t a private loan) the methods are very forgiving. However, refusing this leads to the some unfavorable results.

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Students must realize their wages can be garnished if they’re employed. A garnishment not only harms your credit, but takes a percentage value of earned income. Well, what if you don’t work? Assuming you haven’t worked out a plan with the government on repayment, other sources of income can be garnished too, like social security. Social security is often had because of extreme circumstances, so losing money here is also bad.

If these options don’t work, the government may be forced to file a lawsuit in a general last attempt to collect debt. Considering the cost behind collecting debt, it’s a last step, but a severe one nonetheless.

Students should always understand the reality of debt, which unfortunately isn’t stressed as much as it should be. There are always plans to consolidate loans or base them on income in times of hardship, but outright ignoring the situation doesn’t work out. Just ask Paul Aker!

[Want to hear more about Student Loan Default? Read More Here: Student Loan Repayment & Default Rates on the Rise]