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Postponing Your
Student Loan Repayment

If you have trouble making your education loan payments, contact immediately the organization that services your loan. You might qualify for a deferment, forbearance, or other form of payment relief. It's important to take action before you are charged late fees. For Federal Perkins Loans, contact your loan servicer or the school that made you the loan. For FFEL Loans, contact the lender or agency that holds your loan. For Direct Loans, contact the Direct Loan Servicing Center by calling 1-800-848-0979. TTY users should call 1-800-848-0983.

Deferment

You can receive a deferment for certain defined periods. A deferment is a temporary suspension of loan payments for specific situations such as reenrollment in school, unemployment, or economic hardship. For a list of deferments, click here. You don’t have to pay interest on the loan during deferment if you have a subsidized FFEL or Direct Stafford Loan or a Federal Perkins Loan. If you have an unsubsidized FFEL or Direct Stafford Loan, you’re responsible for the interest during deferment. If you don’t pay the interest as it accrues (accumulates), it will be capitalized (added to the loan principal), and the amount you have to pay in the future will be higher. You have to apply for a deferment to your loan servicer (the organization that handles your loan), and you must continue to make payments until you’ve been notified your deferment has been granted. Otherwise, you could become delinquent or go into default.

Military Service Deferment

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.

Post-Active Duty Student Deferment

An 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 here 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 www.dl.ed.gov. 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.

Forbearance

Forbearance is a temporary postponement or reduction of payments for a period of time because you are experiencing financial difficulty. You can receive forbearance if you’re not eligible for a deferment. Unlike deferment, whether your loans are subsidized or unsubsidized, interest accrues, and you’re responsible for repaying it. Your loan holder can grant forbearance in intervals of up to 12 months at a time for up to 3 years. You have to apply to your loan servicer for forbearance, and you must continue to make payments until you've been notified your forbearance has been granted.

Note to PLUS Loan borrowers: Generally, the same eligibility requirements and procedures for requesting a deferment or forbearance that apply to Stafford Loan borrowers also apply to you. However, since all PLUS Loans are unsubsidized, you'll be charged interest during periods of deferment or forbearance. If you don't pay the interest as it accrues, it will be capitalized (added to the principal balance of the loan), thereby increasing the amount you'll have to repay.

Other Forms of Payment Relief

Although you’re asked to choose a repayment plan when you first begin repayment, you might want to switch repayment plans later if a different plan would work better for your current financial situation. Under the FFEL Program, you can change repayment plans once a year. Under the Direct Loan Program, you can change plans any time as long as the maximum repayment period under your new plan is longer than the time your Direct Loans have already been in repayment.


 
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