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What Happens When You Stop Paying Student Loans?

Elizabeth Aldrich

Raise your hands and say “help, I’ve fallen under an insurmountable pile of student loans and I can’t get up” if you’re currently struggling with student loan debt.

Statistically speaking, about 70% of you recent grads just raised your hands. More than 40% of you loan-havers did so enthusiastically, because you’ve fallen behind on your payments.

Around 7-8 million of you are in a situation so severe, you’ve defaulted. You’ll find out later in this article what that means for your credit.

A handful of you have gone so far as to relocate abroad to avoid debt collectors.

Chances are your fantasies are mostly consumed not by vacationing in far-off destinations or getting saucy with the cute neighbor, but by cathartic dreams of running away and never paying a student loan bill again.

So, what if you did?

What if tomorrow you just woke up and decided to stop putting money toward paying off the $1.2 trillion in collective student loan debt we hold as a nation?

Here’s exactly what would happen.

Fleeing the Country to Avoid Student Debt

Exile is usually reserved for people avoiding punishment for crimes far more violent, but student loan debt has gotten so dire that some young Americans are actually going Pablo Escobar and hiding out in foreign countries to avoid making payments.

Here’s the thing: debt collectors can follow you across all 50 states, but they hit a brick wall as soon as they try to chase you abroad. The confines of our laws are, well, our borders.

VICE Magazine recently did a spotlight on a number of these youngsters who have permanently relocated to Europe and stopped paying their student loans.

About the author

Elizabeth Aldrich

Elizabeth Aldrich

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and “digital nomad” specializing in small business, entrepreneurship, career advice, real estate, travel, arts, and culture. She’s written for outlets as varied as Rawckus Music and Arts Magazine, Itcher Entertainment, Sweden Tips, Houzz, Hometalk, JobHero, Tico Times, and Eugene Weekly. Thanks to a three-year stint in a travel job, a knack for mining great deals, and credit card churning, she has not paid for a single flight since 2012, despite her constant travels. You can find her on Twitter @LizzieAldrich or her website,

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