Default is a legal term for a borrower's failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to when he or she signed a promissory note. For the Federal Direct Student Loan Program, default occurs when a borrower fails to make a payment for 270 days under the normal monthly repayment plan.
Follow these links to learn more about ways to avoid default:
Cancellation and Consolidation: http://www.direct.ed.gov/cancellation.html
Deferment and Forbearance: http://www.direct.ed.gov/postpone.html
Repayment Plans: http://www.direct.ed.gov/RepayCalc/dlindex2.html
The consequences of default are severe. The lender or agency that holds the student loan and the state and federal government will normally take legal action to recover the money the student owes. Other consequences include but are not limited to: