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Trouble making payments

If you are having trouble making payment on your Federal student loan, contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. You are considered delinquent the day after your payment is due. Once you become delinquent, your loan servicer will attempt to contact you to help you determine the best solution for getting back on track. Additionally, the school you attended may attempt to contact you as well. Please do not ignore phone calls, emails, or letters from your student loan servicer, your institution, or an entity representing your institution.

Several options are available to help reduce or postpone your student loan payments. You may be able to postpone your payment for a time period if you qualify for a deferment or a forbearance. If you do not qualify for a deferment or a forbearance, you may be able to lower your monthly payment by changing your repayment plan to one that will allow you to have a longer repayment period or to one that is based on your income.

Deferment

A deferment is an authorized temporary suspension of repayment and may be granted under certain circumstances. If you have a Federal Subsidized Loan or a Federal Perkins Loan, you will not be charged interest during the deferment period. However, you will be responsible for paying the interest that accrues on a Federal Unsubsidized Loan, which will make the amount you pay in the future higher.

You must apply and meet certain eligibility criteria for a deferment to be granted. Your eligibility for a deferment depends on the loan type and when you received the oldest outstanding loan of that type. Some deferments have maximum time limits. If you use up the maximum amount of time for a deferment with a limit, you are no longer eligible for additional deferments of that type.

The following chart provides situations that may make you eligible for a deferment of your Federal student loans.

Deferment Chart

Situations When You May Apply for Deferment Deferment Available? (and for how long, if applicable)
Direct Loans FFEL Loans Perkins Loans

During a period of at least half-time enrollment in college or career school

Yes

Yes

Yes

During a period of study in an approved graduate fellowship program or in an approved rehabilitation training program for the disabled

Yes

Yes

Yes

During a period of unemployment or inability to find full-time employment

Yes (for up to 3 years)

Yes (for up to 3 years)

Yes (for up to 3 years)

During a period of economic hardship (includes Peace Corps service)

Yes (for up to 3 years)

Yes (for up to 3 years)

Yes (for up to 3 years)

During a period of service qualifying for Perkins Loan discharge/cancellation

No

No

Yes

During a period of active duty military service during a war, military operation, or national emergency

Yes

Yes

Yes

During the 13 months following the conclusion of qualifying active duty military service, or until you return to enrollment on at least half-time basis, whichever is earlier, if

  • you are a member of the National Guard or other reserve component of the U.S. armed forces and

  • you were 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

Yes Yes Yes

If you are a Direct Loan or FFEL Program borrower who has a loan that was first disbursed (paid to you or on your behalf) before July 1, 1993, you may be eligible for additional deferments for such situations as teaching in a teacher shortage area, public service, being a working mother, parental leave, or temporary disability.

Chart adapted from Studentaid.ed.gov

 

Your loan servicer will be able to help determine if you qualify for a deferment. To apply for a deferment, contact your loan servicer. If you do not know who your loan servicer is, please sign on to NSLDS. Once you have signed into your NSLDS account, click on each loan to find your loan servicer contact information.

After you submit a deferment application and any required documentation to your loan servicer, be sure to follow up with them to verify that your deferment has been approved. Keep making payments on your loan until you receive a notice that the deferment has been granted. Also, it is important that you keep copies of all forms, documents, and correspondence concerning your deferment.

It is important to know when your deferment begins and ends. Generally, the first payment after a deferment will be due no later than 60 days after the date your deferment ends. You will receive notification from your loan servicer telling you the due date and payment amount. Be sure to keep the upcoming payment in your budget to help you stay on track when you resume making payments.

Forbearance

If you are unable to make your scheduled loan payments, but you do not qualify for a deferment, you may qualify for a forbearance. With a 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 during the forbearance period which will make your future payments higher.

There are two types of forbearance:

Discretionary forbearance

Your loan servicer may grant a discretionary forbearance if you are willing but unable to make payments and do not qualify for a deferment. Instances in which a discretionary forbearance may be granted are:

  • Temporary financial hardship
  • Less-than-half time enrollment
  • Unemployment (beyond maximum deferment time limit)
  • Reduction in work hours
  • Life-changing circumstances

Mandatory forbearance

If you meet the eligibility criteria for a mandatory forbearance, your loan servicer is required to grant the forbearance. You can request a mandatory forbearance for the following reasons:

  • Serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program
  • Owing 20 percent or more of your total monthly gross income on all of your student loans
  • Serving in a national service position for which you received a national service award (AmeriCorps)
  • Performing teaching service that would qualify for a teacher loan forgiveness
  • Performing the type of service that would qualify for partial repayment of your student loans under the U.S. Department of Defense Student Loan Repayment Program
  • Serving as a member of the National Guard who has been activated by a governor and are not eligible for a military deferment

Your loan servicer will be able to help determine if you qualify for a forbearance. To apply for a forbearance, contact your loan servicer. You may be able to apply for a forbearance with your loan servicer over the phone. If you do not know who your loan servicer is, please sign on to NSLDS. Once you have signed into your NSLDS account, click on each loan to find your loan servicer contact information.

After you submit a forbearance application and any required documentation to your loan servicer, be sure to follow up with them to verify that your forbearance has been approved. Keep making payments on your loan until you receive a notice that the forbearance has been granted. Also, it is important that you keep copies of all forms, documents, and correspondence concerning your forbearance.

It is important to know when your forbearance begins and ends. Generally, the first payment after a forbearance will be due no later than 60 days after the date your forbearance ends. You will receive notification from your loan servicer telling you the due date and payment amount. Be sure to keep the upcoming payment in your budget to help you stay on track for when you resume making payments.