With student loan debt reaching $1.26 trillion and affecting 43.3 million Americans, it’s no wonder many borrowers are falling behind. In fact, the Education Department reports more than 40 percent of those who borrowed from the government’s main student-loan program aren’t making payments or are delinquent.

“The long-term impacts of student loan default and delinquency cannot be overstated, but there is hope,” said Sarah Hamilton, student loan supervisor for Take Charge America, national nonprofit credit and student loan counseling agency. “The trick is to ensure you’re in the right repayment program, but this is easier said than done. Loan servicers are in the business of collecting payment – not educating borrowers.”

Hamilton details this considerations loan servicers may not share:

Deferment/forbearance: Your servicer may or may not know this, but you should use deferment or forbearance only as long as necessary – and only if you have no other options – bearing in mind you’re only allowed a total of 36 months over the life of your loan. Also, know that interest continues to accrue for certain types of loans in deferment or forbearance.