My husband and I are paying off his student loans from going back to school 6 years ago and getting a new 2 year degree.
It was a year out of school before he was able to find a job in his field, since the new field was supposed to increase our income and allow us to pay the loans, and we had to start paying on them in 6 months, we fell behind, and have been behind the 8 ball every since.
We just keep calling the loan companies and making payment arrangements, and trudging on.
If you stop paying it will first go to a collection agency (usually allied interstate, and we have one loan with them, they are complete dicks) and if you stop paying that they will garnish your wages, and take your tax refund until things are paid off.
If they have to go thru the tax refund and wage garnishment thing, you will have extra fees added on to your loans, for the legal work they have to do for those, and those extra fees will also acrue intrest.
If you change jobs, and they have to garnish your wages at a new place, they will tack on more legal fees.
Also negative hit's on your credit score, and that would mean that moving into a new apartment would be difficult, getting a new car would require cash up front, and many job's run a credit check prior to hiring someone, so you are usually stuck at the same job.
Not to mention collection calls, which if you start avoiding, they will track down every emergency contact number you ever left with the school and call people like your parents to try to get ahold of you.