Hi @Katiengl14 ,
The first thing you want to do - other than establishing that the loans really do belong to your boyfriend - is determine whether or not these loans are federal or private.
I would recommend going to the national student loan database: https://nslds.ed.gov/nslds/nslds_SA/ . If these loans are federal, all of the information about them should be listed there (your boyfriend will have to create an account if he doesn't have one already). Download the information, contact the servicer (what the feds call the company that takes care of collecting loans) and set up a rehabilitation plan. Rehab means that there's a 9 month voluntary payment plan, and after the ninth payment, the default will be removed from the loans and they will be placed in good standing. The *lates* that led to the charge off/collection may or may not stay on the account, only the default is removed. Your boyfriend would then start paying on them as a current loan. Depending on the kind of loans they are, there can be a number of different payment plans, so that hopefully the amounts aren't too high (and some payment plans also offer forgiveness after a certain amount of time).
If these are NOT federal loans, I would want to check into when they were opened, what the statute of limitations are in the states involved (where you live, where the lender is located), and see what you can do to settle them for less.
Any time! There are a couple of us here on the boards that help with student loans pretty frequently, so feel free to ask if you have further questions.
Apply to have them consolidated into one loan if he can.
^ Don't do this unless you've rehabbed them. Consolidation does not remove the default from the tradelines. They will be closed as negative accounts and a single new account will appear. In addition, because it's a new account, you'll want to make sure not to do it too close to applying for a new loan. The nicest part of rehab (other than removing the default) is that you have longer open tradelines. Consolidation closes them, so they're still on your report, but it also opens a new tradeline, which resets your AOYA and could drop your Average Age of Accounts below threshholds and harm your mortgage scores.
I'm not going to say that consolidation is bad, just bad for making your credit look good for a new mortgage app.
Its the difference between having one account reporting positively with a larger balance than having multiple accounts reporting negatively with smaller balances. In addition, educational loans don’t affect your credit the same way as regular loans do. I personally did this myself and it helped my credit took me from the low 400s to mid 500.
I'm not saying not to consolidate, just to definitely rehab first. Consolidating from negative lines will keep those lines negative, if the lines are consolidated AFTER rehab, at least they'll be positive.
And there is something to be said for multiple older positive lines from a mathematics perspective. But whether or not they should be consolidated will be personal preference, and whether or not the lines are eligible for forgiveness if someone wants to use one of those programs (if not, then consolidation is required).