How to Get a Student Loan Deferment

Student loan deferment can pause federal loan payments, often for up to three years, if you qualify.

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Student loan deferment can pause your monthly loan payments, often for a maximum of three years. But it's not a great long-term option. Even if you qualify for a deferment, you probably shouldn’t use it unless the following are true:

If you won’t be in good shape financially for a while, opting for an plan is a better choice.

To defer student loans, you must meet specific eligibility criteria and still have deferment time available in your lifetime limit. You can defer federal student loans only for so long — in most cases, the maximum is three years total.

To apply, send your student loan servicer the and any necessary documentation, like proof of unemployment benefits. Your must grant you a deferment if you qualify, but keep making payments until you're officially approved.

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Here are the most common kinds of federal student loan deferment:

Many private lenders also let you defer student loans while you’re in school or the military. Contact your lender for eligibility details or to find out how to apply.

Student loan deferment isn't necessarily a bad idea, but it can be expensive if you have private or unsubsidized federal student loans. Both of these loans accrue interest during deferment, and you’ll be responsible for paying it. If you don’t do this while the loan is in deferment, that unpaid interest will be , or added to your loan balance, when you enter repayment.

You can find out if your loans are unsubsidized by checking your account.

Those extra costs may be worth it if the alternative is having your or because of a . Deferment is also a better choice than — another way to pause repayment — because you always pay interest during forbearance.


Worried about affording your payments in the long run? Enrolling in income-driven repayment can offer the same immediate relief as student loan deferment, as well as additional long-term benefits.

You may pay more interest overall on income-driven repayment because these plans extend your repayment term. Use Federal Student Aid’s  to calculate the short- and long-term costs to see if an income-driven repayment plan makes more sense for you than a student loan deferment.

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