These 20 States Can Revoke Your License for Failure to Pay Student Loans

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The pursuit of education — and a satisfying career — can be costly. That’s why over 44 million Americans are saddled with student loan debt.

After graduating, many rely on their jobs to pay off those loans. But some who struggle to pay the money back could wind up losing the very careers they went into debt for.

No Payments, No Licenses

In 20 states, the government can suspend state-issued professional licenses or driver’s licenses if a borrower defaults on their student loan debt, according to The New York Times.

Though not all enforce those laws, here are the states where it’s possible to lose your license over debt:














New Mexico

North Dakota

South Dakota





Putting Workers in a Difficult Situation

Revoking a professional license needed for employment or a driver’s license needed to get to a job puts workers in a tough spot.

It’s a Catch-22: You need to work to pay off loans but, in some cases, you have to be paying off the loans in order to work.

The New York Times found at least 8,700 cases where professionals — including nurses, teachers, lawyers and psychologists — have had their licenses taken away or threatened with suspensions in recent years because of failure to pay back student loans.

Because, as The New York Times said, “many state agencies and licensing boards don’t track the information,” that 8,700 figure likely underestimates of the true number of people affected by this policy.

The publication described the tactic of taking away professional licenses as being “especially punitive.”

To read more about this, check out The New York Times article.

Tips on Getting Out of Student Loan Debt

Though student loan debt can be a monster, there are ways to break through.

Try these seven tips to paying off student loans. Many of these eight creative ways to pay off credit card debt can also be applied to paying down student loan debt.

Consider consolidating loans to make monthly payments more affordable. Or boost your income and have more to put towards paying off your loans with these 32 ways to make money from home.

And sometimes it’s just helpful to know there are people out there who have been in your shoes and have made it through to the other side. Take notes from this couple who paid off $20,000 in two years or this freelance writer and event planner who paid off $68,000 of debt in four-and-a-half years.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.