Student loan deferment allows you to temporarily stop making payments.

Find out if a deferment is the best option for your situation.

Student Loan Deferment

Alert! The Department of Education Appropriations Act, 2019 includes a provision that allows individuals diagnosed with cancer to have their federal student loans placed in deferment while they undergo cancer treatment. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is assessing the newly enacted law and will explain the new deferment conditions to customers on this page as soon as more details are available. We encourage you to check back periodically. If you need assistance in the meantime, contact your federal loan servicer.

With deferment, you won’t have to make a payment. However, you probably won’t be making any progress toward forgiveness or paying back your loan. As an alternative, consider income-driven repayment.

Get Relief With Lower Payments on an Income-Driven Repayment Plan

If you’re having trouble repaying your loans due to circumstances that may continue for an extended period, or if you’re unsure when you’ll be able to afford to make your monthly loan payments again, a better option might be to consider changing to an income-driven repayment plan. Income-driven repayment plans base your monthly payments on your income and family size. In some cases, your payment could be as low as $0 per month. Income-driven plans can also provide loan forgiveness if your loan isn’t paid in full after 20 or 25 years.

Always contact your student loan servicer immediately if you’re having trouble making your student loan payments.

If you’re seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or income-driven repayment forgiveness, in most cases deferment will not allow you to make progress toward forgiveness.

Be Aware That Interest Might Accrue During Deferment

If you’re granted a deferment, you might still be responsible for paying the interest that accrues during the deferment period. The table below shows when you are responsible for paying the interest and when you are not responsible based on loan type.

Loan Types Where You Are Generally NOT Responsible for Paying the Interest That Accrues Loan Types Where You Are Responsible for Paying the Interest That Accrues
Direct Subsidized Loans  Direct Unsubsidized Loans 
Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans  Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
Federal Perkins Loans  Direct PLUS Loans
The subsidized portion of Direct Consolidation Loans  Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) PLUS Loans
The subsidized portion of FFEL Consolidation Loans  The unsubsidized portion of Direct Consolidation Loans 
  The unsubsidized portion of FFEL Consolidation Loans 

When you are responsible for paying the interest on your loans during a deferment, you can either pay the interest as it accrues, or you can allow it to accrue and be capitalized (added to your loan principal balance) at the end of the deferment period. If you don’t pay the interest on your loan and allow it to be capitalized, the total amount you repay over the life of your loan may be higher. Unpaid interest is capitalized only on Direct Loans and FFEL Program loans. Unpaid interest is never capitalized on Perkins Loans.

Request a Deferment

Most deferments are not automatic—you need to submit a request to your student loan servicer, often on a form. Also, for most deferments, you must provide your student loan servicer with documentation to show that you meet the eligibility requirements for the deferment. Learn more about requirements and how to access request forms.

Understand Eligibility for a Deferment

There are a variety of circumstances that may qualify you for a deferment on your federal student loan.

Economic Hardship Deferment

You may qualify for this deferment if you

  • are receiving a means-tested benefit, like welfare (e.g., Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF));
  • work full-time but have earnings that are below 150% of the poverty guideline for your family size and state of residence; or
  • are serving in the Peace Corps.

You can only receive this deferment for up to three years.

Complete the Economic Hardship Deferment Request.

Graduate Fellowship Deferment

You may qualify for this deferment if you are enrolled in an approved graduate fellowship program. A graduate fellowship program is generally a program that provides financial support to graduate students to pursue graduate studies and research. Most graduate fellowship programs are for doctoral students, but some are available to master’s degree students.

Complete the Graduate Fellowship Deferment Request.

In-School Deferment

You are eligible for this deferment if you’re enrolled at least half-time at an eligible college or career school. If you’re a graduate or professional student who received a Direct PLUS Loan, you qualify for an additional six months of deferment after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time.

Important! If you are enrolled in an eligible college or career school at least half-time, in most cases your loan will be placed into a deferment automatically based on enrollment information reported by your school, and your loan servicer will notify you that the deferment has been granted. If you enroll at least half-time but do not automatically receive a deferment, you should contact the school where you are enrolled. Your school will then report information about your enrollment status so that your loan can be placed into deferment.

Complete the In-School Deferment Request.

Note: In-school deferment is generally automatic, so in most cases it isn’t necessary to complete the In-School Deferment Request. However, if you’re enrolled at least half-time but do not automatically receive a deferment, you can either ask your school to report your enrollment information, as explained above, or complete the In-School Deferment Request.

Military Service and Post-Active Duty Student Deferment

You may be eligible for this deferment if

  • you are on active duty military service in connection with a war, military operation, or national emergency; or
  • you’ve completed qualifying active duty service and any applicable grace period. This deferment ends when you resume enrollment in an eligible college or career school on at least a half-time basis or 13 months following the completion date of active duty service and any applicable grace period, whichever is earlier.

Complete the Military Service and Post-Active Duty Student Deferment Request.

Parent PLUS Borrower Deferment

You may qualify for this deferment if you’re a parent who received a Direct PLUS Loan to help pay for your child’s education, and the student you took the loan out for is enrolled at least half-time at an eligible college or career school. You can also receive a deferment for an additional six months after the student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time.

Complete the Parent PLUS Borrower Deferment Request.

Note: As an alternative to completing the Parent PLUS Borrower Deferment Request, if the school your child is attending requires you to complete a Direct PLUS Loan Request, you can request this deferment when you submit the Direct PLUS Loan Request. Check with your child’s school.

Rehabilitation Training Deferment

You may qualify for this deferment if you’re enrolled in an approved rehabilitation training program that is designed to provide vocational, drug abuse, mental health, or alcohol abuse rehabilitation treatment.

Complete the Rehabilitation Training Deferment Request.

Unemployment Deferment

You may be eligible for this deferment if you receive unemployment benefits or you are seeking and unable to find full-time employment. You can receive this deferment for up to three years.

Complete the Unemployment Deferment Request.

If you received federal student loans before July 1, 1993, you might be eligible for additional deferments. For more information about these deferments, contact your loan servicer.

Loan Types Eligible for Deferment

All the deferments are available to Direct Loan, FFEL Program loan, and Perkins Loan borrowers.

If you received a Perkins Loan, you may also be eligible for a deferment while you are working toward cancellation on your Perkins Loan. Get contact information regarding your Perkins Loan.

In most cases, Perkins Loan recipients who receive a deferment will receive a six-month post-deferment grace period that begins on the date they no longer meet the deferment eligibility requirements. No payments are required during the post-deferment grace period.

 You MUST continue making payments on your student loan(s) until you have been notified that your request for deferment has been granted. If you stop paying and your deferment is not approved, your loan(s) will become delinquent and you may go into default.