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    How to Get Your Student Loans Deferred

    By Kayla Korzekwinski

    Kayla Korzekwinski is a Scholarships360 content writer. She earned her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied Advertising/PR, Rhetorical Communication, and Anthropology. Kayla has worked on communications for non-profits and student organizations. She loves to write and come up with new ways to express ideas.

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    and Cece Gilmore

    Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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    Reviewed by Caitlyn Cole

    Caitlyn Cole is a college access professional with a decade of experience in non-profit program and project management for college readiness and access organizations.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: March 21st, 2024
    How to Get Your Student Loans Deferred

    Student loan deferment is a temporary suspension of your monthly student loan payments. If you are struggling to make your student loan payments or are going through a particular life event (like graduate school or losing your job), student loan deferment can be a good way to get you back on your feet. Student loan deferment is only available in certain situations, so continue reading to learn how to get your student loans deferred if applicable.  

    When to defer your student loans 

    Student loan deferment offers relief when unable to make your payments. However, it may not always be the best option. It’s important to know that, in most cases, interest will continue to accrue on your loans in deferment. The only loans that you won’t be responsible for paying interest on are ones that are subsidized by the federal government. 

    Depending on your loan type, borrowers may continue paying interest while in deferment. The interest might then be added to your balance, and increase the total loan balance. Take the time to fully understand how capitalized interest works before signing off on deferment. 

    Student loan deferment can also have an impact on your eligibility for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program or income-driven repayment plans. Periods of deferment often don’t count toward these programs. 

    Because of the impact that student loan deferment can have, consider it to be a last-resort option. First, talk to your loan servicer to discuss your options and your eligibility for loan deferment. Remember, your loans are your responsibility. You must keep track of your eligibility, paperwork, deadlines, and date that your loans come out of deferment. 

    Now that you know about the consequences of deferring your loans, let’s dive into the kinds of deferment available and how to get started. 

    Federal student loan deferment

    The Department of Education offers student loan deferment for all types of federal loans. In most cases, student loan deferment needs to be applied for; here is a list of the application forms for the deferments mentioned below:

    Economic hardship deferment

    If suffering economic hardship, consider having your loan payments deferred. Students are eligible for this deferment if they receive a benefit like welfare, work full-time but have low earnings, or are serving in the Peace Corps. Serving in the Peace Corps may mean you can defer loans while serving for AmeriCorps, on the other hand, may mean that your loans can go into forbearance. The main difference is that interest accrues while loans are in deference, but interest does not accrue while loans are in forbearance.

    Economic hardship deferment lasts for up to three years, and the years don’t need to be consecutive. This is important to keep in mind if you’re expecting to need deferment for longer.

    Unemployment deferment

    If receiving unemployment benefits or unable to find a full-time job, students can receive unemployment deferments. Like the economic hardship deferment, this deferment lasts for up to three years.

    In-school deferment

    If returning to school for at least half-time while repaying loans, most students are eligible for this deferment. In fact, in-school deferment happens automatically when your school reports the necessary information. Deferment applies for the time in school and the six months after leaving.

    Graduate fellowship deferment

    If enrolled in an eligible graduate fellowship program, students are eligible for this deferment. Generally, these programs provide financial support to graduate students while they perform research and their studies. Students are able to remain in this deferment for as long as they are in a graduate fellowship program.

    Military service and post-active duty deferment

    Current and former military qualify for this deferment if they are on active duty or if they have completed qualifying active duty military service. Military members can remain in this deferment until they resume attending school at least full-time or for up to 13 months after completing service.

    Cancer treatment deferment

    Students can receive deferment on their student loans throughout the course of cancer treatment, and for six months after the treatment ends.

    Rehabilitation training deferment

    Students may qualify for deferment if they are in an approved rehabilitation training program. This deferment applies to students enrolled in vocational, mental health, drug abuse, or alcohol abuse rehabilitation treatment programs.

    Private student loan deferment

    Most private lenders also offer deferment in a variety of situations. For example, Sallie Mae offers deferment when students return to school or enter an internship, fellowship, clerkship, or residency program. 

    Private lenders’ options are often more limited. Contact your private student loan lender as soon as possible to have your private loans deferred.If deferment is not possible, grants and loan forgiveness programs can pay off all or part of private student loan debt. 

    Explore all options

    As you can see, there are viable options when paying your loans does not work for your current or coming situation. Start researching and making a plan so that you successfully defer your loans and avoid late payments. Talk to your lender as soon as possible when you’re thinking about deferment.

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Student loan deferment offers relief when unable to make your payments
    • Student loan deferment may have impact on your eligibility for loan forgiveness and may accumulate interest
    • Your loans, and all the details that accompany them, are your responsibility to track and manage
    • Some reasons for federal student loan deferment include economic hardship, in-school, graduate fellowship, military service, cancer treatment, or rehabilitation training
    • Private student loan deferment plans are more limited

    Frequently asked questions about how to get your loans deferred

    Can I change my repayment plan after I start repaying my student loans?

    Yes, for federal loans, you can change your repayment plan if your circumstances change. There are various income-driven repayment plans and other options to explore.

    How do I apply for student loan deferment?

    To apply for deferment, you typically need to contact your loan servicer, complete the appropriate deferment request form, and provide supporting documentation such as proof of enrollment or military orders.

    How long can I defer my student loans?

    Deferment periods can vary based on the reason for deferment. In some cases, you may be able to defer your loans for up to three years, but it is important to understand that deferment periods are limited and should be used judiciously. 

    Who is eligible for student loan deferment?

    Eligibility for deferment depends on various factors including your loan type, employment status, and financial situation. Common eligibility reasons include economic hardship, enrollment in school or military service.

    How can I manage my student loan debt responsibly?

    Responsible management of student loan debt involves making on-time payments, understanding your loan terms, exploring loan forgiveness options, and creating a budget that accommodates your loan payments.

    How much can I borrow with a student loan?

    The amount you can borrow depends on your educational level, your financial need and the loan program. Additionally, there are annual and lifetime limits for federal loans.

    Is interest still accruing during deferment?

    For subsidized federal loans, the government covers the interest during deferment. However, for unsubsidized federal loans and most private loans, interest continues to accrue, increasing the total loan balance.

    What happens if I can’t repay my student loans?

    Failure to repay student loans can result in consequences such as damage to your credit score and legal action. However, there are loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment options for federal loans.

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