One of the things the federal Department of Education can do is an Administrative Wage Garnishment. They do not need to sue you and get a judgment; they just take a piece of your paycheck. That is not to say that they cannot do this without telling you first, but you have to act fast.
A notice must be sent to you 30 days prior to the commencement of the garnishment (and is considered received 5 days after it is sent).
Upon receipt of this notice, you must request a hearing within 15 days. A hearing must then be held, and a decision issued, within 60 days of the request for the hearing. During that time, the garnishment cannot be issued. If you request the hearing after the 15 days, then you will get a hearing, but the garnishment will begin in the meantime.
It is very important that you request the hearing within the 15 days. That way you hold off on the garnishment and have a chance to set up an affordable payment arrangement to get out of default.
If you live in New Jersey and have received a notice of Administrative Wage Garnishment on your federal student loans, call me immediately at 856-432-4113 to schedule an appointment to come in and discuss representation. The sooner you do, the sooner your rights can be protected, and your student loans can be brought back on track.