If you are struggling to make your student loan payments, you may be able to ask your loan servicer for a deferment. A deferment allows you to temporarily pause your student payments.
Depending on the type of loans you have, interest may also be paused while your loans are in deferment. Make sure you consider all of your options before you ask for a deferment. Your loan balance can increase very quickly if interest accrues while you’re in deferment.
Consider an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan Instead
Before you ask your loan servicer about deferment, you may want to consider an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. In some cases, your monthly payment in an income-driven repayment plan can be as low as $0 per month. In IDR, you can also earn time toward having your student loan balance eventually canceled after 20 to 25 years in income-driven repayment, even if your payment is $0, which is not the case for time in deferment or forbearance.
Under the one-time IDR account adjustment that will take place in 2023, you may receive credit for some previous time in forbearance and deferment. For more information see the Department of Education’s website and our page on the IDR account adjustment.
Am I Eligible For a Deferment?
There are specific types of deferments with different requirements and time limits depending on the deferment. Some deferments only last for six months.
Deferments may be available in the following situations:
- while you are undergoing cancer treatment,
- if you’re facing an economic hardship,
- while you are in school or completing a graduate fellowship,
- during active-duty military service,
- while you are unemployed or completing certain vocational or rehabilitation programs, and
- while your child is in school if you are a Parent PLUS borrower.
For more information on deferments, see the Department of Education’s website.