Federal Student Loan Deferment

If you have trouble making your student loan payments, you might qualify for payment relief through a federal student loan deferment.

A deferment is a temporary suspension of federal student loan payments for specific situations, and for a specific period of time. You must apply for deferment through your loan servicer, and payments must be made until the deferment is approved.

According to the Department of Education, the following are conditions in which a borrower can receive loan deferment for Stafford and Perkins Loans:

Deferment Condition Direct Stafford Loans Perkins Loans Stafford FFEL Loans
Enrolled in school at least half-time Yes Yes Yes
Study in an approved graduate fellowship program or in an approved rehab. training program for the disabled Yes Yes Yes
Unable to find full-time employment Up to 3 years Up to 3 years Up to 3 years
Economic hardship (includes Peace Corps Service) Up to 3 years Up to 3 years Up to 3 years
Service listed under discharge/cancellation conditions No Yes No
Borrower is on active duty during a military operation or national emergency and if the borrower was serving on or after Oct. 1, 2007, for an additional 180-day period following the demobilization date for the qualifying service Yes Yes Yes
Borrower is a member of the National Guard or other reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces (current or retired) and is called or ordered to active duty while enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school or within six months of having been enrolled at least half-time, during the 13 months following the conclusion of the active duty service, or until the borrower returns to enrolled student status on at least half-time basis, whichever is earlier Yes Yes Yes

PLUS Loan Deferment

For the most part, eligibility requirements for Stafford and Perkins Loan Deferment also apply for PLUS Loans. All PLUS Loans are unsubsidized, the borrower will be charged interest during the deferment or forbearance periods. Any interest that isn't paid during this time will be added to the principal balance of the loan.

Forms

Borrowers can request deferment on a loan by filling out one of the nine applicable deferment forms.

Other Repayment Options

Forbearance

If you do not qualify for a deferment for your Federal student loans, you can forbear your loans for up to three years instead. Forbearance is another way to temporarily postpone or reduce payments for a set period of time. While it is very similar to deferment, there are some important differences between deferment and forbearance. You should contact your loan servicer for more information about forbearing your Stafford, Perkins, or Parent Plus loan.

Consolidation

Another option for students looking to lower their monthly payment is student loan consolidation. Whether you have one or multiple loans, consolidation can lower your payments by lengthening the overall term of your loan.