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Student Wage Garnishment Information

Students with loans in default may face administrative wage garnishment from private debt collectors. Learn about your rights and how to appeal wage garnishment procedures below.
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Administrative Wage Garnishment (AWG), is used as a last resort by the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) to recover defaulted student loans. Thirty (30) days prior to the issuance of the "Order of Withholding", a notice is sent to students advising them of the department's intent to garnish wages. This notice also contains your rights and appeal procedures.

Rights and Responsibilities when student loans are in default

You have the right to:

A notice 30 days prior to the wage garnishment order that explains:

  • Their intention to garnish your wages;
  • The nature and amount of the debt;
  • That you may inspect and copy records relating to the debt;
  • How to object to the garnishment actions; and
  • How to avoid garnishment by voluntary repayment.

Additional rights include:

  • Entering into a written agreement to establish a voluntary repayment plan under terms agreeable to the DoE.
  • A hearing where you can present and obtain a ruling on any objection by you to the existence, amount, or enforceability of the debt.
  • A hearing to present and obtain a ruling on any objection that garnishment of 10% of your disposable pay would produce an extreme financial hardship;
  • A hearing to present and obtain a ruling on any objection that garnishment cannot be used at this time because you are now employed within a 12-month period after having been involuntarily separated from employment;
  • Filing (in a timely manner) a request for a hearing thus stopping garnishment action until the hearing is completed and a decision issued;
  • Not to be discharged from employment, refused employment, or subject to disciplinary action due to the garnishment, and to seek redress in federal or state court if such action occurs; and
  • Not to have any information provided to the employer but what is necessary for the employer to comply with the withholding order.

Student Responsibilities: actions you must take to avoid the garnishment of up to 10% of your disposable income:

  • Negotiate acceptable repayment terms and ensure the first payment is received by the response deadline date on the garnishment notice;
  • Request a hearing in writing and postmarked by the garnishment notice deadline;
  • If requesting copies of documents, make a request for a hearing because just requesting document(s) does not delay a garnishment order;
  • Provide proof to support any objection made to the existence, amount, or enforceability of the debt, or a claim of legal exclusion or financial hardship;
  • Attend the in-person hearing held in Atlanta, Chicago, or San Francisco;
  • Pay for the cost of attending the in-person hearing including witnesses attending on your behalf; and
  • Initiate legal action against your employer if the employer discharges, refuses to hire, or takes disciplinary action against you based on the garnishment action.

Students must use the "Request for Hearing Form"

The Request for Hearing Form is used by students (or former students) who wish to dispute a wage garnishment and need to request an official hearing about the issue.