Can’t Pay your Student Loans? Try Deferment or Forbearance.

By Brenda on August 3rd, 2011


Many students fear taking out a student loan for fear of not being able to pay once they graduate. Under normal circumstances students must start paying on their loan within six months of either stopping school or graduating.

While six months seems like a long time it really isn’t in light of the current economy and how long it is taking people to find jobs. So what do you do when the six months is up and you are not in a position to pay? You can apply for deferment or forbearance. Let’s take a look at how it works.


Deferment means you suspend payments for a certain amount of time based upon certain criteria. If you are interested in deferring your loans you need to contact the organization who is servicing your loans. If you do not know that information you can look it up in the National Student Loan Data System.

To defer your loans you must apply and meet one of the following conditions:

  • Economic hardship
  • Unemployment
  • Enrollment in school
  • Military duty
  • Internship

Loans that are eligible for deferment include Stafford loans, parent plus loans, graduate school loans, and federal consolidation loans. Subsidized loans do not accrue interest while in deferment but other types of loans do.

Economic hardship is the most common deferment. Students have up to three years post-graduation to qualify for economic hardship deferment. There are certain conditions people have to meet which can be found on the federal student aid website. It is very easy to apply for deferment and takes only a few minutes through the web site.

People can also apply by sending in the paperwork. You will likely be asked to send in additional documentation supporting your claim along with the application. Deferment periods typically last for three to six months.


Forbearance is also a postponement of payments. It is used for those experiencing financial hardship. Forbearance is easy to qualify for and does not need to be approved as long as you are within the time frame of eligibility.

Forbearance periods can last as long as twelve months. When you apply for forbearance you decide on the length of time to suspend payments. Applying for forbearance can be done directly online.

Military Service Deferment

Active duty members of the United States Armed Forces who are called to duty are eligible for 180 days of deferment while on active duty.

Post-Active Duty Deferment

This deferment is for those serving in the National Guard or other reserve organization of the United States Armed Forces. If a student is enrolled at least half-time and is called to active duty they are eligible for a 13 month deferment after their active duty status ends and they go back to a reserve role.






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