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Yesterday we published a story about Nicole Jackson, a woman with $186,000 in student loans who knows she won’t ever pay them back fully. Lots of readers weighed in on everything from the need to get rid of that debt to the relevance of a college degree to whether or not higher education should be free. (There are some interesting comments here.)

With Jackson, she decided not to make her loans a priority, but not to default on them. There is a big difference! She has basically chosen to make the minimum payment on her student loans into perpetuity. Meaning she will be in good standings with her borrowers, but it is highly unlikely there are enough years in her life to pay these loans off in full.

A Twitter follower asked us what would happen if someone decides to “walk away” from the loan entirely. If you chose not to pay your loans at all and default on them, you can face some serious repercussion that may have financial impacts on your life that are more strenuous than just coughing up the minimum payment. Keep in mind when you take out a federal loan you are dealing with the big boys! Our federal government does not play when it comes to getting their money back. Just ask anyone on the IRS’ radar.

Here are some adverse affects to not paying your student loans and letting them go into default:

1. Wage garnishment: The government can garnish up to 15 percent of your disposable income to force you to make good on your debt.

2. Tax refund interception: Any tax refunds in the future could be intercepted by the IRS to go towards your loan balance.

3. Federal benefits: Federal benefits like Social Security and disability payments can be garnished similar to your wages as mentioned above.

4. Getting sued: There is no statute of limitation on suing to collect on student loan debt. So if you default you will always have to wonder if and when you will get hit will a lawsuit from the federal government.

Be sure to do your research before you get on the US government’s bad side.

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