If you are struggling to make your student loan payments, you may be able to temporarily postpone your payments with a student loan deferment. Whether or not you can defer your student loans depends on:
- the type of loan you have
- the specific eligibility requirements of your loan, and
- whether you are in default.
(Learn about your options if you can’t afford your student loan payments.)
What Is Student Loan Deferment?
A student loan deferment excuses you from making payments on your loan for a specified period of time. If you can’t afford to make your monthly payments, deferring your student loans can provide you with some temporary relief. But you have to satisfy certain requirements to qualify.
Which student loans can you defer? Student loan deferment is typically available for both federal and private student loans. But eligibility requirements for deferring private student loans can vary significantly depending on your lender and the type of loan you have.
Do You Qualify for Student Loan Deferment?
If you have a private student loan, whether or not you qualify for a deferment will depend on the specific requirements of your lender.
For federal student loans, you may be eligible to defer your payments if you are not in default (for most federal student loans, you are considered in default if you don’t make a payment for more than 270 days) and you are:
- going to school at least half-time
- enrolled in an approved graduate fellowship program or an approved rehabilitation training program for disabled individuals
- unemployed or can’t find full-time work
- facing economic hardship (this includes serving in the Peace Corps), or
- on active duty military service.
In addition, if you received a Direct or FFEL loan before July 1, 1993, you may also qualify to defer your payments for other reasons. If you are interested in deferring your student loan payments, contact your loan servicer to learn about all of the deferment options that may be available to you. (Learn about how to find your loan servicer.)
What Happens to Your Student Loans in Deferment?
If you defer your student loans, you won’t have to make payments on them for a set period of time. In addition, the government will pay your interest during the deferment period if you have a subsidized loan. The following are the most common types of subsidized loans:
- Federal Perkins loans
- Direct Subsidized loans, and
- Subsidized Federal Stafford loans.
If your loan is not subsidized, you may not be required to make payments during deferment, but interest will continue to accrue (accumulate) on the loan.
Should I Defer My Student Loans?
If you can’t afford to make your student loan payments, asking for a deferment will often be in your best interest because it can save you from going into default on your loan. Defaulting on a student loan has several negative consequences. (Learn more about what happens if you default on your student loan.)
In addition, if you have a subsidized loan, you won’t have to worry about interest accruing on your loan while it’s in deferment. But keep in mind that if your loan is unsubsidized, interest continues to accrue during the deferment period. If you don’t pay the interest while the loan is in deferment, it may be capitalized (added to your principal loan balance) and increase the amount you have to pay back.
How Do I Defer My Student Loans?
In most cases, your student loan won’t automatically go into deferment just because you meet the eligibility requirements. This means that you must request a deferment from your loan servicer by submitting an application and showing that you qualify.