Loan Deferment Information

Postponing Loan Repayment (Deferment and Forbearance)

Under certain circumstances, you can receive periods of deferment or forbearance that allow you to postpone loan repayment. These periods don’t count toward the length of time you have to repay your loan. You can’t get a deferment or forbearance for a loan that is already in default.*

What is deferment?

A deferment is a period of time during which no payments are required and interest does not accrue (accumulate), unless you have an unsubsidized Stafford Loan. In that case, you must pay the interest. To qualify for a deferment, you must meet specific eligibility requirements.

How do I qualify for a deferment?

The most common loan deferment conditions are enrollment in school at least half-time,* inability to find full-time employment (for up to three years) and economic hardship (for up to three years).

Can parents or graduate and professional degree students defer repayment of their PLUS Loan?

Yes. Generally, the same deferment provisions that apply to Stafford Loans apply to PLUS Loans. Because PLUS Loans are unsubsidized, parents and graduate and professional degree students will be charged interest during periods of deferment. If they don’t pay the interest as it accrues, it will be capitalized* (added to their outstanding principal* balance). PLUS borrowers may defer repayment while the student is enrolled at least half-time.*

Is there deferment for active duty military service?

Yes. An active duty military deferment is available to borrowers in the FFEL, Direct Loan and Perkins Loan programs who are called to active duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency. This deferment is available while the borrower is serving on active duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency or performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war or other 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.

Active Duty Student Deferment

Effective Oct. 1, 2007, a FFEL, Direct Loan, or Perkins Loan borrower who 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, is eligible for a deferment during the 13 months following the conclusion of the active duty service, or until the borrower returns to enrolled student status on at least a half-time* basis, whichever is earlier.

Economic Hardship Deferment

A FFEL, Direct Loan, or Federal Perkins Loan borrower may qualify for an economic hardship deferment for a maximum of three years if the borrower is experiencing economic hardship according to federal regulations.

The Loan Deferment Summary Chart below shows Stafford Perkins Loan deferments for loans disbursed on or after July 1, 1993. For information on deferments for loans received before that date, Direct Stafford and PLUS Loan borrowers should contact the Direct Loan Servicing Center at 1-800-848-0979. TTY users should call 1-800-848-0983. Or, go online at FFEL Stafford and PLUS Loan borrowers should contact their lender. For more information on deferments, contact your lender or the financial aid office at your school.

What is forbearance?

If you temporarily can’t meet your repayment schedule but you’re not eligible for a deferment, your lender might grant you forbearance for a limited and specific period of time. Forbearance occurs when your lender or loan-servicing agency agrees to either temporarily reduce or postpone your student loan payments. Interest continues to accrue (accumulate), however, and you are responsible for paying it, no matter what kind of loan you have.

Generally, your lender can grant forbearance for periods up to 12 months at a time, for a maximum of three years. You’ll have to provide documentation to the lender to show why you should be granted forbearance. The lender must send you a notice confirming the terms that were agreed to and record them in your file.

Loan Deferment Summary Chart

 Deferment Conditions

Direct Loans a, b

FFEL Loans a, c

Perkins Loans

 At least half-time* study at postsecondary school




 Study in an approved graduate fellowship program or in an approved rehabilitation   training program for the disabled




 Unable to find full-time employment

Yes up to 3 years

Yes up to 3 years

Yes up to 3 years

 Economic Hardship (includes Peace Corps Service)

Up to 3 Years

Up to 3 Years

Up to 3 years

 Engages in service listed under discharge/cancellation conditions




Active Military Duty while borrower is on active duty during a war or other 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




a    For PLUS Loans and unsubsidized Stafford Loans, only principal* is deferred. Interest continues to accrue.

b    A Direct Loan borrower who had an outstanding balance on a FFEL Loan first disbursed before July 1, 1993, when the borrower received his or her first Direct Loan, is eligible for additional deferments.

c    Applies to loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 1993, to a borrower who has no outstanding FFEL or Federal Supplemental Loans for Students (Federal SLS) loan on the date he or she signed the    promissory note.* (Note that the Federal SLS Program was repealed beginning with the 1994–95 award year.) Different deferments are available for borrowers with pre-July 1, 1993, loan.

d    More information on teaching and other types of service deferments and cancellations can be found online at At the site, click on “Students, Parents and Counselors.”

NOTE:  You MUST continue making payments on your student loan until you have been notified that your request for deferment has been granted.  IF you don’t, and your deferment is not approved, you will become delinquent and may default* on your loan.

Applying for deferment or Forbearance

Receiving deferment or forbearance is not automatic. You or your parents must apply for it.

  • Federal Perkins Loans—Contact the school that made your loan or the school’s servicing agent.
  • Direct Loans (includes Direct PLUS Loans)—Contact the Direct Loan Servicing Center at: 1-800-848-0979. TTY users should call 1-800-848-0983 or go to:
  • FFEL Loans (includes FFEL PLUS Loans)—Contact the lender or agency holding your loan.

Regardless of which type of federal student loan you have, you must pay the interest that accrues (accumulates) during any period of forbearance.

Are there circumstances when I must be granted a mandatory forbearance?

Yes. There are certain mandatory forbearances. Examples include borrowers who:

  • are in a medical or dental internship or residency;
  • have student loan payments that are 20 percent or more of their monthly income;
  • have payments being made for them by the Department of Defense.

Contact your lender or loan-servicing agent for more information on the mandatory forbearance benefit.