Image this scenario. You come into work on the first Monday after Christmas. The holidays are finally over. You can finally start buying that Starbucks that you quit buying because you needed to save money to buy Christmas presents.

An email sits in your computer at work saying that HR needs to see you ASAP. Your heart begins to pump rapidly. Your hands start sweating, and you get nervous. The unknown scares you more than you ever knew.

You think you might get laid off, or worse yet fired. But you don’t know why. All the thoughts just start racing through your mind.

You head to HR where you have to wait outside for 10 minutes. The waiting is the worse. The HR calls you into his office and says.

I have bad news.

The US Department of Education has ordered a wage garnishment of 15% of your pretax income because your student loans are in default.

Your worst nightmare becomes even worse. Getting fired is bad, but working for 15% less money is even worse. Not paying your student loans finally came back to haunt you. You knew it was bad but not this bad.

Not Paying Your Student Loans Will Cost You

If you think paying your student loans is costly, not paying your student loans is more costly. If you fail to pay your student loan, you probably won’t find a team of armed U.S. marshals at your front door, as one Texas man did recently. But it’s still a very bad idea to ignore that debt.

In most respects, defaulting on a student loan has exactly the same consequences as failing to pay off a credit card. But in one key respect it can be much worse. Most student loans are guaranteed by the federal government, and the feds have got powers that debt collectors can only dream about. It probably won’t be as bad as armed marshals at your door, but it could get very unpleasant.” via @Investopedia

it can destroy your credit for a lifetime and make other people not want to loan you money, give you a mortgage, or do business with you.

How to Avoid Wage Garnishment

1. Talk to your loan servicer about your options immediately.
2. Call the U.S. Department of Education’s Debt Collection Service Information Center. The number should be listed on your wage garnishment letter.
3. Come up with a plan and make on-time payments, each and every time.

Other options include refinancing your student loans. Check out our list of the top 7 best student loan consolidation companies. That’s a great starting point.