I am going through student loan hell. Trying to consolidate loans and running into walls (repeatedly). I am getting overwhelmed.

Can a debt collector garnish my wage without a judgment?

I am trying to consolidate a loan that has defaulted. It defaulted while in consolidation proceedings. The debt is now owned by PHEAA, a collection agency. Now I'm trying to roll PHEA into the consolidation. PHEAA says they are going to deny my consolidation and issue a wage garnishment. I've checked my credit report and there is no judgement against me.

  • 2
    I don't think PHEAA is a collections agency - they are the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency; they are likely the original issuers of your loans. (At least they were for me in the early 90s which is why I recognized the acronym.) Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 1:51
  • ACS originated the loan. PHEA (AES) are the guarantee agency and also acting as collections.
    – Geo
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 1:55
  • 1
    PHEAA is also a loan servicer. Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 2:12
  • 6
    I know nothing about the circumstances here, but government loan issuers sometimes have special powers debt collector wouldn't. It may not be safe to assume they can't garnish your wages, especially if they have said they can. Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 4:25

3 Answers 3


Debt collectors in general cannot garnish wages without a judgement in court. Student loans (the federally insured ones) are different, however. They (and the IRS) can garnish wages without a judgement. They can also grab your tax return.

However, with student loans you do have a concept of hardship deferral, which can help keep them off your back.

  • A link to a reference saying this would help get an upvote from me. Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 14:15
  • @DJClayworth the rules vary by loan program. There is no single link and the number of links that would be required to be comprehensive would be crazy. There are several other government entities that can get some forms of garnishment with out a judgement. I do think they will have to get a judge to order the garnishment though.
    – user4127
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 17:11

No, a collector can only nag till you give up and pay. Some collectors will harass and threaten you which is illegal. The collectors will go to lengths and lie big time telling you they will breach into your house, seize your assets and your XBox, etc - anything to make you pay. All your property and your income are yours until a court decides otherwise.

  • Proven above to be false; PHEAA is a gov't agency. Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 2:28
  • @AaronD.Marasco PHEAA is a quasi-public entity that is a loan servicer. The originator of the loan is what matters. Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 3:47

They can garnish student loans without a court order.

  • Hi Red, welcome to Money.Stackexchange.com. This answer is really bare, can you beef it up? Also, please take a look at the About and the Help center.
    – C. Ross
    Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 11:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .