College Planning

Understanding Student Loan Deferral

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.

What Does It Mean to Defer Student Loans?

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 https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/understand.

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Help Paying for College

If you have student loans and are experiencing difficulty in paying your loans, you might be eligible for a student loan deferral. If you need help paying for college, know that you have options. For more information, visit the Protective learning center.


All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Learning Center articles may describe services and financial products not offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries. Descriptions of financial products contained in Learning Center articles are not intended to represent those offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Neither Protective Life nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your financial adviser and legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making investment, social security, retirement planning, and tax-related decisions. For information about Protective Life and its products and services, visit www.protective.com.

Companies and organizations linked from Learning Center articles have no affiliation with Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

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