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College Planning

What does it mean to defer student loans?

If students find themselves unable to meet their student loan obligations, a loan deferment may be necessary. This article discusses when and how to defer a student loan.

There comes a time when students may experience life events that can make it difficult to meet their student loan obligations. When paying for college loans becomes a serious financial burden, a student loan deferral may be able to help.

A student loan deferment is an agreement between you and your lender that excuses you from having to repay the principle on your student loan payments for a predetermined period of time. Generally speaking, most student borrowers tend to defer student loans due to specific life changes such as an economic hardship or an unexpected job loss.

How to get a student loan deferment will depend on your lender's individual criteria and conditions, as well as your unique financial situation. Some of the more common types of deferrals may include:

  • Suffering an economic hardship
  • Unemployment but looking for work
  • Serving active military duty
  • Serving in the Peace Corps
  • Rehabilitation training
  • Parental leave

What you need to know about student loan deferments

  • Subsidized Stafford loans and subsidized consolidation loans will not accrue additional interest, so your loan balance after the deferment period ends will be the same as when it started
  • Unsubsidized Stafford loans, PLUS loans, SLS loans, or unsubsidized consolidation loans will continue to accrue interest during the deferment, which is why you should consider at least paying the interest on your loan each month
  • When applying for a student loan deferral and while awaiting your approval/denial, you must continue to make your regularly scheduled loan payments
  • Deferrals are not available to all borrowers
  • Not all borrowers are approved
  • Generally speaking, you may not be eligible for deferment if you have previously defaulted on your loans

If you find yourself struggling with student loan debt and having difficulty making payments, contact your lender to see if deferment is right for you. Keep in mind that if you don't qualify for a deferment, there are other options that may be available to you such as forbearance, extended repayment plans, and income-based repayment plans. For more information on available options for student loan repayment, visit



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