Postponing Loan Repayment (deferment and Forbearance)

Under certain circumstances you can receive periods of deferment or forbearance that allow you to temporarily postpone or reduce your federal student loan repayment. You’ll need to work with your loan servicer to apply for deferment or forbearance and be sure to keep making payments on your loan until the deferment or forbearance is in place.

These periods don’t count toward the length of time you have to repay your loan. Interest may not accrue on subsidized direct loans during a deferment period, but you are responsible for paying the interest that accrues during deferment on an unsubsidized loan.

Most deferments are not automatic, and you will likely need to submit a request to your loan servicer, the organization that handles your loan account. If you are enrolled in school at least half-time and you would like to request an in-school deferment, you’ll need to contact your school’s financial aid office as well as your loan servicer.
Your deferment request should be submitted to the organization to which you make your loan payments.

  • Direct Loans and FFEL Program loans: contact your loan servicer
  • Perkins Loans: contact the school you were attending when you received the loan

Qualifications for a Deferment

Deferment of principal and interest payments may be obtained under the following circumstances:

  • For any period during which you are enrolled at least half-time.
  • For up to three years while you are seeking but unable to find full-time employment or are experiencing economic hardship.
  • During the periods you are 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.


If you can’t make your scheduled loan payments, but don’t qualify for a deferment, your loan servicer may be able to grant you a forbearance. With forbearance, you may be able to stop making payments or reduce your monthly payment for up to 12 months. Interest will continue to accrue on your subsidized and unsubsidized loans (including all PLUS loans). Financial hardship and illness are examples why you may request a forbearance. To request a a loan forbearance you must apply by making a request to your loan servicer.

More information on Deferment and Forbearance

Cancellation or Discharge

A cancellation or discharge releases you from all obligations to repay the loan. If you think you qualify for a discharge you must apply to the holder of your loan.

Qualifications for a Cancellation (Discharge) of a Loan

Examples are:

  • Death
  • Total permanent disability
  • Your loan might be discharged for working in a designated low-income school.
  • Other cancellations are loan specific

Your loan cannot be cancelled because:

  • You did not complete the study at your school (unless you couldn’t complete the program for a valid reason – because the school closed for example.)
  • You didn’t like the school or program of study
  • You didn’t obtain employment afterwards

More information on Cancellation and Discharge