Cohort Default Rate

About the Cohort Default Rate

Federal student loan borrowers generally have to begin repaying their loans six months after graduating, leaving school, or dropping below half-time enrollment. If borrowers make no payments for any period of 270 days, or roughly 9 months, they will default on their student loans. 

The U.S. Department of Education (Dept) tracks the number and percentage of federal student loan borrowers who default on their student loans within three years of entering repayment. This is the Cohort Default Rate, commonly referred to as “three-year” CDRs.

The Department of Education releases official cohort default rates for each school that is eligible to participate in the federal student loan program once per year. The current rates (FY 2020) were released in August 2023 and the FY 2021 rates should be released in August 2024. The national cohort default rate average and Arkansas Tech's cohort default rate is currently 0% due to the moratorium on student loan payments and interest charges that was in effect until August 31, 2023.  

Helpful Definitions for Deciphering the CDR
FISCAL YEAR 2020 2019 2018
Default rate 0% 1.6% 5.8%
Number in default 0 40 148
Number in repayment 2,333 2,455 2,551

consequences of default


The consequences of defaulting can not only impact your ability to borrow but can impact your finances as well. Consequences may include the following:

  • The entire unpaid balance of your loan and any interest you owe becomes immediately due.
  • Your loans may be turned over to a collection agency.
  • You can be sued for the entire amount of your loan.
  • You will be liable for the costs associated with collecting your loan, including costs and attorney fees
  • Your wages may be garnished.
  • Your federal and state income tax refunds may be taken for treasury offset.
  • The federal government may withhold part of your Social Security benefit payments.
  • Your defaulted loans will appear on your credit history for up to 7 years after the default claim is paid.
  • It make take years to reestablish a good credit record.
  • You may not be able to purchase or sell assets, such as real estate.
  • You will not receive additional federal financial aid until you repay the loan in full or make arrangements to repay what you already owe and make at least six consecutive, on-time, monthly payments. 
  • You may be ineligible for assistance under most federal benefits programs.
  • You can no longer receive deferment or forbearance, and you lose eligibility for other loan repayment benefits, such as the ability to choose a specific repayment plan.
  • Subsidized interest benefits will be denied.
  • You may not be able to renew a professional licenses.
  • You may be prohibited from enlisting in the Armed Forces.
  • Your school may withhold your academic transcript until your defaulted student loan is satisfied. The academic transcript is the property of the school, and it is the school's decision - not the US Department of Education's or your loan holder's - whether to release the transcript to you.


1Federal Student Aid Default Management