How To Defer Your Student Loan Payments

Asher Wu
Apr 26, 2021

There are certain times in your life where you may unexpectedly need a break from your student loan payments. There are protections in place to help you do that with your federal student loans, either through deferment or forbearance. And some private student loan lenders may offer options for postponing payments as well.

Sometimes life throws unexpected curveballs and we end up with heavy medical expenses, job loss, a massive pay cut, or some other financial crisis that makes paying off student loans feel impossible.  Your student loan payment is important, but it can't always come first.

Student loan deferment or forbearance can help you out of this tight spot by postponing your student loan payments for a temporary amount of time.   

What is deferment?

This is a temporary solution for a financial crisis.   When you’re deferring payments, you are not required to make those monthly payments until the deferment period is over.   However, you are still responsible for any interest that accrues on those loans (except subsidized loans).  

The more you know:  Want to learn how student loan interest rates work and how it affects your payments?   

That unpaid interest will be added to the total borrowed amount, and your increased loan amount will accrue more interest -- growing the overall payment owed.   During deferment, you can make interest payments in order to limit this.

A deferment can give you the time you need to get back on your feet, so you can continue making payments without officially “missing” any. Deferring payments means you are postponing payments and will continue paying them after a set amount of time.  

Don’t forget to choose a new repayment plan before your deferment ends, so you can continue making on-time payments. If deferment doesn't sound right for you, there other ways to pay your student loans with a low-income. See if any of the options fit into your financial plans.  

When is deferment available?

You need to meet the requirements to qualify for deferment. Once you meet these set requirements, you cannot be turned down for deferment.

Deferment is available when you're:

  • Unemployed (working 30 hours or less a week) and searching for full-time employment
  • Back in school
  • Actively serving in the U.S. military during a national emergency, war or military operation
  • Having difficulty making ends meet
  • In rehabilitation training
  • Actively serving in the PeaceCorps
  • In a graduate fellowship program

What is forbearance?

Similar to deferment, all accrued interest during the forbearance period will be added to the amount borrowed, and this new loan amount will generate MORE interest. Likewise, you may make interest payments during forbearance in order to limit the amount that will be added to your total.  

If you do not qualify for deferment, forbearance can be a good option. It's important to note that forbearance must be approved by your lender or service. A time limit is also set by your lender, servicer, or set regulations.    Regardless of the loan type, you are ultimately responsible for the interest that accrues during forbearance.   Therefore, it is a good idea to use as little forbearance as possible, so it’s available in the future.   

Not sure how you plan to pay back your student loans? See what other repayment options you have.