Student-centric advice and objective recommendations
Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.
Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.
Student Loan Deferment Calculator
Student loan deferment can be a great option for borrowers who anticipate a period where they cannot make their monthly payments. Whether they are enrolling in further school, experiencing economic hardship, enrolling in the military, or undergoing a medical hardship, they may qualify for a suspension of monthly loan payments.
While deferred loans do not incur additional penalties, some types do accrue interest during the period of deferment. Our calculator will help you determine exactly how much interest will accrue during the time you are not making payments. This can help you decide whether the deferment is worth it and plan for your financial future once that deferment has ended.
How to use the calculator
To use our student loan deferment calculator, we’ll just need four pieces of information from you. Let’s get into what each of those figures are and where you can find them.
Related: Student loan definitions
In this section, you can input the number of months you are considering deferring your loans for. You can come back and edit this figure later, so if you want to experiment with the amount of interest you’d owe for different deferment lengths, feel free to mess around with it after you see your figures.
Average interest rate
In this section, you’ll input the average interest rate across the student loans you are thinking about deferring. If you only have one student loan, you’ll just use the interest rate from that loan. However, this becomes a bit more complicated if you have multiple loans.
There are two ways you can go about this section if you are considering deferring multiple loans. The first is to make separate calculations for each loan you are repaying. You can enter each loan’s separate interest rates and amounts and look at the results as a whole.
Another way to find this figure is to take the weighted average of each of your interest rates. You can calculate using this tool from NerdWallet.
Current student loan balance
Put simply, your current student loan balance is the amount of money you currently owe on your loan. It is the remainder of the principal balance plus any outstanding interest that you owe.
Don’t confuse this figure with the initial amount that you borrowed, or the amount that you are projected to pay back across the entire lifetime of your loan. The initial amount that you borrowed will not factor in any of your payments or the interest that has accrued. The total amount repaid takes into account future interest payments, which are not owed at present.
In this section, you’ll input the projected amount of time until you repay your loan. In other words, this will be the number of months it would take you to pay off your loan if you continued to make your monthly payments as usual.
Student loan deferment calculator
Do you qualify for deferment?
Not everyone qualifies for student loan deferment; you must meet special requirements in order to take advantage of the opportunity. Many private lenders do not allow deferment at all, and the ones that do each have their own requirements. So, if you are looking to defer your private loans, you should get in contact with your lender and find out what their policies are.
If you are looking to defer federal loans, their website offers a list of valid justifications for deferment. These include:
- Cancer treatment
- Economic hardship
- Graduate fellowship
- Enrollment in school
- Military service and post-active duty
- Parent PLUS loans whose children are still in school
- Rehabilitation training
Reasons to defer your student loans
Deferment can make sense as an option for a number of reasons. Here are a few possible reasons why you may want to defer your loans:
Having trouble making ends meet
If you are having trouble paying your essential expenses, it can be a good idea to defer your loans in order to ensure you can pay for food, housing, utilities, and other essential costs.
Going back to school
If you are going back to school, you can expect a time period of reduced earning and additional school expenses. This will probably lead to an increase in income somewhere down the line. So, it can be a good idea to defer your loans so that you can afford to live while you earn your new credentials.
If this is your situation, you should be sure to look into some projected wages in your field to ensure that you will be able to repay your loans upon graduation.
Also see: How much student loan debt is too much?
Incurring major unexpected costs
If something unexpected happens and you are not covered financially, it can be a good idea to defer your loans to ensure that you can pay for your essentials without incurring additional loan fees and hurting your credit score.
Undergoing a period of unemployment
Whether an injury has kept you from working, you got laid off, or you simply can’t find a job, deferring your loans can be helpful. Just make sure not to allow your deferment to turn you complacent. Remember that your loans are still there, and you should remain vigilant in your hunt for a job so you can repay them when payments restart.
Reasons not to defer your student loans
Here are a few reasons you may be tempted to defer your loans, but that do not justify the consequences of deferment.
You want to buy something expensive
Whether it’s a nice pair of shoes, a new car, or even a house, you should not defer your loans in order to buy it. If you cannot buy it without deferring your loans – you can’t afford it! Anything that isn’t absolutely essential is not worth deferring your loans over.
You want to take time off work
If you want to take time off work, it’s a good idea to save enough money to make loan payments during your sabbatical. If you are deferring your loans to take time off work, you cannot afford it! What’s more, you most likely will not be approved when you apply for deferment.
That being said, if you do want to take time off, federal loan holders can start an income-based repayment plan to temporarily lower payments.
Alternatives to deferment
If you are having trouble making your monthly payments, deferment can be a great option, but it is not the only one. You can also try changing your repayment plan to a PAYE, REPAYE, or other income-based repayment plan. Refinancing may also help lower your monthly payment. Finally, try applying to some grants to help pay off student loans. Good luck!
Frequently asked questions
Can you make payments during student loan deferment?
Yes! You are absolutely allowed to make student loan payments while your loans are in deferment. This is advisable, as it will reduce the amount of interest that accrues during deferment, and reduce the total balance that you will begin paying down once deferment ends.
Are you penalized for deferring your student loans?
If you obtain an approved deferral for your student loans, you will not receive any direct penalties. All loans aside from subsidized federal direct loans will accrue interest just as if they were not deferred. Subsidized direct loans will not incur any interest at all. But aside from this, you will not receive any penalties for deferred student loans.
Does deferring your student loans hurt your credit score?
If you are in a period where you cannot make your student loan payments, deferral is the absolute best thing you can do for your credit score. The act of deferment itself does not hurt your credit score. That being said, deferral has some indirect impacts on your credit score.
Having your debt increase in age, and potentially size, during the time of your deferral could negatively impact your credit score. This impact will be slight, however, and it will be a far smaller decrease than if you were to stop making payments without a sanctified deferral.
Does interest accrue while my loans are deferred?
In most cases, interest does accrue while your loans are deferred. The one notable exception is that subsidized direct federal loans do not accrue interest while loans are deferred. Additionally, the emergency student loan relief package due to COVID has been paying off all the accrued interest that would have gathered on any federal loans.