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Get a Fresh Start after Default

The Biden Administration has developed a life-changing program that will bring borrowers out of default and give them access to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).


With the Biden Administration’s help, every one of the approximately 7.5 million borrowers in default will be automatically free from collections, like wage garnishment, and have their default status removed from their credit report.

Borrowers in default that apply for the Fresh Start Program will get their loans out of default and can immediately enroll in an income-driven repayment plan to reduce their monthly payments and start working towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Benefits of Fresh Start

Beginning in early 2023, all borrowers in default were given these benefits. These benefits will last until one year after the payment pause ends, unless you apply for the Fresh Start Program.

  • Stopped Involuntary Collections: Your wages will not be garnished. Tax refunds, child tax credits, social security payments, and disability benefits will not be withheld. You will no longer receive collection calls.
  • Credit Reporting Changes: The Department of Education will report your loans as “current” (meaning in repayment) to all credit reporting agencies.
  • Access to Federal Student Aid: You can access federal student aid to apply for grants and loans to return to school yourself, or for your children.
  • Eligibility for Other Government Loans: The Department of Education will stop reporting your default status in the government credit reporting system, meaning you may become eligible for certain government-backed loans like mortgages.
  • Ability to Rehabilitate Loans: Normally, borrowers can only get a loan out of default one time. Fresh Start does not count towards this limit, so if your loan goes into default again later you still have the chance to rehabilitate your loan and get back on track.

Borrowers that apply for Fresh Start will get their loans out of default, keep the automatic benefits for the long-term, and get additional benefits.

Added Benefits for Applicants

Get out of Default: Your loans will be transferred to a loan servicer and returned to “in repayment status.”
Erase Default from Your Credit Report: The Department of Education will tell credit reporting agencies to remove the default from your credit report. If you have been in default for more than seven years, and default again after applying for Fresh Start, the default will not show up on your credit report.
Start Working Towards Forgiveness: You will be eligible for all forgiveness programs and be able to make qualifying payments towards PSLF.
Access to Forbearance and Deferment: You will be able to temporarily suspend your student loan payments under forbearance or deferment. Note that during forbearance and deferment, interest will continue to accrue, and that time will not count towards PSLF.
Enroll in Income-Driven Repayment: You will be able to immediately enroll in an IDR plan, which is based your monthly payment on your income and family size. Your monthly payment amount will be less than the amount withheld under wage garnishment and can be as low as $0. More information on these plans is available in the IDR section below.

Apply for Fresh Start

Eligible Loans

Only certain loans are eligible for Fresh Start:

  • Defaulted Direct Loan Program loans
  • Defaulted Federal Family Education Loan (FEEL) Program Loans
  • Defaulted Perkins Loans held by the Department of Education

If you’re not sure whether your loans qualify, you can call the Default Resolution Group at 1-800-621-3115 (TTY for the deaf or hard of hearing 1-877-825-9923).

Three Ways to Apply

Online: Go to and create or log into your account. Visit the Account Information page to submit a request for Fresh Start.
Call: Call the Default Resolution Group at 1-800-621-3115 (TTY for the deaf or hard of hearing 1-877-825-9923). Before calling look up your income on your most recent federal tax return. This call will take about ten minutes and you will also have an opportunity to sign up for an IDR plan during the call.
Mail: Write to P.O. Box 5609, Greenville, TX 75403. In your letter, include your name, social security number, date of birth, and the following: “I would like to use Fresh Start to bring my loans back into good standing.”

After You Apply 

Enroll in an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan

The Department of Education is also proposing a new rule that would create a new income-driven repayment plan with much-improved terms, such as halving the amount of discretionary income that borrowers have to pay towards their undergraduate loans and covering borrower’s unpaid monthly interest so a borrower’s balance will not increase as long as they make their monthly payments.

Learn More About IDR Plans

Submit a Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Application

If you went into default after October 1, 2007, you may have some past qualifying payments to account for that will help you work towards forgiveness under PSLF. Submit a PSLF application for your past employers to get credit for those payments.

If not, submit a PSLF application for your current employer anyways. This will transfer your loan to MOHELA, which is the servicer that administers the PSLF Program.

Learn More About PSLF

Sign held up at rally saying 40 million families need student loan relief now.

Other Student Debt Support

If you do not qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, there are other opportunities for support. NEA’s student debt experts have created tools designed to help educators through the complicated student debt system.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.