Postpone Your Payments with Deferment or Forbearance

Step-by-Step Tutorial on How to Apply for Deferment Online

Sometimes it may seem impossible to make your student loan payment. Maybe you decided to go back to grad school, your entry-level salary isn't what you expected, or a health condition prevents you from working—but you have deferment and forbearance options to postpone your payments and bring your account current without hurting your credit. Each option has its own eligibility rules and time limits. Read on to see which fits your unique situation—we almost always have a solution for you.

Take a Break from Payments

Both deferments and forbearances give you a break from monthly payments for a set period of time. Many options are available to meet a variety of needs. If you are having difficulty making payments and want to see which options fit your specific situation, log in to your account and click Postpone My Payment to see which deferment or forbearance works best for you. Of course, you can also call us at 888.486.4722 to talk through your options.

  • Log in to your account and click Postpone My Payment to apply for deferment or forbearance. You can also call us at 888.486.4722.
  • Learn more about the difference between deferment and forbearance.
  • Calculate accrued interest while in deferment or forbearance. (To avoid capitalization, you may choose to pay accruing interest or even small payments toward the balance.)

Explore Options Now

Avoid Default With Deferment or Forbearance

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About Deferment

If you are experiencing financial hardship, go back to school, are unemployed, or are on active duty military service, postponing payments with deferment may be right for you. Subsidized Stafford loans and subsidized consolidation loans will not accrue additional interest, so your balance after the deferment period will be the same as when it started. However, for unsubsidized Stafford loans, PLUS loans, SLS loans, or unsubsidized consolidation loans, interest will accrue during the deferment period, so it's wise to pay at least the interest on your loan each month. This will prevent your interest from being capitalized, or added to the principal of your loan, essentially increasing your total balance and requiring you to pay more in the long run.

About Forbearance

If you work an internship, perform certain types of community service, or find yourself experiencing financial hardship, you may be qualified to postpone payments with forbearance. All loans accrue interest during forbearance, so it's smart to pay at least the monthly interest during this period to avoid interest capitalization. Forbearance resolves any delinquency on the account—log in to your account and click Postpone My Payment to see if you're eligible. You can also call us at 888.486.4722.

Available Deferments

The federal government has allowed for these deferment options. Read on to see if these situations apply to you. Remember—just because you are eligible for a deferment does not mean you are required to request it; if you feel you can make payments on your loan, you are encouraged to do so.

Armed Forces Deferment

If you serve on active military duty in the Armed Forces or National Guard, you may be eligible for this deferment or other student loan benefits for members of the military.

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    To qualify for this deferment, your first Stafford or SLS loan must have been disbursed before July 1, 1993, or for parent borrowers, your PLUS loan must have been disbursed before August 15, 1983. Consolidation loans do not qualify for this deferment. You must be serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during a war, military operation, or national emergency. You may also qualify if you are serving in a reserve component of the Armed Forces or the National Guard in a full-time capacity for a period of at least one year or due to a national mobilization. The cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment is 36 months, inclusive of any Public Health Services and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) deferment time used.

Domestic Volunteer Deferment

If you are a full-time, paid volunteer for an ACTION (Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973, VISTA, or AmeriCorps) program for more than a year, you may defer payments.

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    To qualify for this deferment, your first Stafford or SLS loan must have been disbursed before July 1, 1993, or for parent borrowers, your PLUS loan must have been disbursed before August 15, 1983. Consolidation loans do not qualify for this deferment. You must be a full-time, paid volunteer in an ACTION program and serving for a period of at least one year. The cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment is 36 months.

Economic Hardship Deferment

If you receive public assistance, serve in the Peace Corps, or make less than the minimum wage or poverty guideline, you may defer payments.

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To qualify for this deferment, your first loan must have been disbursed on or after July 1, 1993, and you must meet one of the following requirements:

  • You are receiving payments or benefits under a federal or state public assistance program
  • You are serving in the Peace Corps
  • You are working full-time but earning a monthly income that is less than the minimum wage rate or 150% of the poverty guideline for your family size, whichever is greater

If you have a combination of FFELP, Direct, and Perkins loans and you have been granted an economic hardship deferment on one of your federal loans but not on the others, you may receive an economic hardship deferment on your other federal loans by providing the loan holder with documentation of the economic deferment previously granted. The cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment is 36 months.


Full-Time Teacher in a Teacher Shortage Area Deferment

You may defer payments if you teach in a designated teacher shortage area.

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    This deferment is available to borrowers whose first Stafford or SLS loan was disbursed on or after July 1, 1987, but before July 1, 1993. PLUS and consolidation loans do not qualify for this deferment. You must be teaching full-time in a designated teacher shortage area, determined by the Chief School Administrator or the Chief State School Officer—check here. The cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment is 36 months.

Graduate Fellowship Deferment

If you're accepted into a graduate fellowship program, you may defer payments.

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    If you've received your undergraduate degree and are engaged in full-time study in a graduate fellowship program, you may qualify for this deferment. There is no cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment.

Internship/Residency Deferment

While working an internship or residency program, you may apply for deferment for up to two years.

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    To qualify for this deferment, your first Stafford or SLS loan must have been disbursed before July 1, 1993, or for parent borrowers, your PLUS loan must have been disbursed before August 15, 1983. Consolidation loans do not qualify for this deferment. You must be accepted into either an internship/residency program that leads to a degree or certificate from an institution of higher education, hospital, or health care facility that offers post-graduate training or an internship/residency program that is required before you can begin professional practice or service. The cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment is 24 months.

Military Deferment

If you are serving on active military duty during a war or other military operation, or during a national emergency, you may apply for deferment.

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    This deferment is available for borrowers serving in the military on active duty or in the National Guard on qualifying duty during a war or other military operation, or during a national emergency. The service period must begin on or after October 1, 2007, or include that date. There is no cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Deferment

If you are on NOAA active duty, you may defer payments.

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    This deferment is available to borrowers whose first Stafford or SLS loan was disbursed on or after July 1, 1987, but before July 1, 1993. PLUS and consolidation loans do not qualify for this deferment. You must be on active duty in the NOAA. The cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment is 36 months, inclusive of any Public Health Services and Armed Forces deferment time used.

Parental Leave Deferment

You may defer payments while pregnant or caring for a newborn or newly adopted child, if you were in school within the past six months and are no longer enrolled or working full-time.

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    This deferment is available to borrowers whose first Stafford or SLS loan was disbursed before July 1, 1993. PLUS and consolidation loans do not qualify for this deferment. You must be pregnant or caring for a newborn or newly adopted child. Also, you must have been enrolled in school at least half-time within the preceding six months and not currently attending school or working full-time. In the case of caring for a newborn or newly adopted child, the mother or father may qualify for the deferment. The maximum time period for each occurrence is six months.

Peace Corps Volunteer Deferment

If you volunteer full-time in the Peace Corps for at least a year, you may defer payments.

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    To qualify for this deferment, your first Stafford or SLS loan must have been disbursed before July 1, 1993, or for parent borrowers, your PLUS loan must have been disbursed before August 15, 1983. Consolidation loans do not qualify for this deferment. You must be a full-time volunteer in the Peace Corps and serving for a period of at least one year. The cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment is 36 months. Note: If you are in the Peace Corps and your first loan was disbursed on or after July 1, 1993, you may be eligible for an Economic Hardship Deferment (see above for details).

Post-Active Duty Student Deferment

You may apply for deferment if you are called to active military duty while enrolled in school.

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    This deferment is available to borrowers who are members of the Armed Forces Reserve or National Guard (including retired members) and are called to active duty while still enrolled in school, or within six months after ceasing to be enrolled, on at least a half-time basis. The service period must begin on or after October 1, 2007, or include that date. The maximum time period for each occurrence is 13 months.

Post-Enrollment Deferment

If your parents took out a loan to help you pay for school, or you took out a GradPLUS loan for graduate studies, payments may be deferred until six months after you graduate or leave school.

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    For a parent borrower or a graduate or professional student who obtained a PLUS loan on or after July 1, 2008, the PLUS loan may be deferred for a six-month period following the date the student ceases to be enrolled on at least a half-time basis.

Public Health Services Deferment

If you serve full-time as an officer in the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service, you may be able to defer payments.

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    To qualify for this deferment, your first Stafford or SLS loan must have been disbursed before July 1, 1993, or for parent borrowers, your PLUS loan must have been disbursed before August 15, 1983. Consolidation loans do not qualify for this deferment. You must be serving full-time as an officer in the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service. The cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment is 36 months, inclusive of any Armed Forces and NOAA deferment time used.

Rehabilitation Training Deferment

You may defer payments if admitted to a rehabilitation training program.

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    You may qualify for this deferment if you are receiving full-time training from a program that is licensed or approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs for providing rehabilitation training to disabled individuals or by a state agency responsible for vocational rehabilitation, drug abuse treatment, mental health services, or alcohol abuse treatment programs. For a parent borrower who has an outstanding loan disbursed on or after July 1, 1987, but prior to July 1, 1993, or who had a loan disbursed before July 1, 1993 outstanding when he or she obtained a loan after July 1, 1993, the PLUS loan may be deferred if the student is engaged in the rehabilitation training program. There is no cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment.

School Deferment

If you go back to school, you can apply for deferment.

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    To qualify for this deferment, you must be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school. For a parent borrower who has an outstanding loan disbursed on or after July 1, 1987, but prior to July 1, 1993, who had a loan disbursed before July 1, 1993, outstanding when he or she obtained a loan after July 1, 1993, or who obtained a PLUS loan on or after July 1, 2008, the PLUS loan may be deferred if the student is enrolled at least half time at an eligible school. There is no cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment.

Tax-Exempt Volunteer Deferment

If you volunteer for a tax-exempt organization and make no more than minimum wage, you may qualify for this deferment.

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    To qualify for this deferment, your first Stafford or SLS loan must have been disbursed before July 1, 1993, or for parent borrowers, your PLUS loan must have been disbursed before August 15, 1983. Consolidation loans do not qualify for this deferment. You must be a full-time, paid volunteer in a tax-exempt organization that provides services to low-income individuals and their communities, and you must be earning no more than minimum wage. You must be serving for a period of at least one year. The cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment is 36 months.

Temporary Total Disability Deferment

You may defer payments if you are disabled or care for someone who is.

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    This deferment is available to borrowers whose first loan was disbursed prior to July 1, 1993. You must be temporarily totally disabled, which means you are unable to work and earn money or attend school for a period of at least 60 days because of an injury or illness. You are also eligible for this deferment if you are unable to work because of continuously caring over a period of at least 90 days for a dependent or spouse who is temporarily totally disabled due to an injury or illness. The cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment is 36 months.

Unemployment Deferment

If you can't find employment, you may defer payments for up to three years.

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    Unemployment qualifies you for deferment if you are actively seeking but unable to find full-time employment in the United States. Full-time employment is defined as at least 30 hours of work per week in a position that is expected to last at least three months. The cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment is 36 months for borrowers who obtained their first loan on or after July 1, 1993, or 24 months for all others.

Working Mother Deferment

If you have young children, return to the workforce after leaving school, and make no more than $1 per hour over minimum wage, you may defer payments.

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    This deferment is available to borrowers whose first Stafford or SLS loan was disbursed on or after July 1, 1987, but before July 1, 1993. PLUS and consolidation loans do not qualify for this deferment. You must be a mother of a preschool-age child, entering or re-entering the workforce, employed full-time, and earning a wage that is no more than $1 per hour over the minimum wage rate. The cumulative maximum time limit for this deferment is 12 months.

Available Forbearances

If you are not able to make payments and your situation does not qualify you for a deferment, you may request forbearance. There are several types of forbearance available.

Active Military Duty

Borrowers serving in the National Guard not covered by the military deferment may request this forbearance.

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    This forbearance is for borrowers who are not eligible for the military deferment. To qualify for this forbearance, you must be a member of the National Guard (including a retired member); called to active duty while still enrolled in school, or within six months after ceasing to be enrolled, on at least a half-time basis; and performing active military state duty during a period when the governor activates National Guard personnel. The service period must begin on or after October 1, 2007, or include that date. Forbearance is granted in periods up to 12 months at a time.

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Loan Repayment Program

If you perform community service, you may be able to postpone payments.

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    To qualify for this forbearance, you must be performing national service that qualifies for partial repayment of your loan under the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. You must provide a statement from an authorized CNCS official certifying eligibility and the begin and end dates of the service period. Forbearance is granted in periods up to 12 months at a time.

Department of Defense (DoD) Loan Repayment Program

If you serve in the DoD and participate in its student loan repayment program, you may qualify for forbearance.

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    To qualify for this forbearance, you must be participating in the DoD's loan repayment program and provide a statement from an authorized DoD official certifying eligibility and the beginning and end dates you are expected to perform service that qualifies you for partial repayment of your loan. Forbearance is granted in periods of up to 12 months at a time.

Hardship

If you cannot make your regular payments and do not qualify for other relief options, the hardship forbearance may be for you.

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    You may qualify for this forbearance if you are willing but temporarily unable to make scheduled payments and do not qualify for a deferment or other type of forbearance. Forbearance is granted in periods of up to 12 months at a time.

Internship/Residency

Working in a medical or dental internship or residency may qualify you for forbearance.

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    If you have been accepted into a medical or dental internship or residency program that requires a bachelor's degree, you may qualify for an Internship/Residency forbearance. You must provide a statement from an authorized program official, and possibly a state licensing agency, certifying eligibility and the begin and end dates of the program.

Reduced Payment

Choose a payment amount that fits in your budget, and that's your payment for the next year.

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    Select your payment amount on this plan. The requested payment amount must cover at least the estimated monthly interest accrued. If you are currently delinquent on your loan, we will process a hardship forbearance to bring your account current.

Student Loan Debt Burden

If your payments total more than 20% of your gross monthly income, you may qualify for forbearance.

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    To qualify for this forbearance, your student loan payments must be equal to or greater than 20% of your total monthly income. You will need to provide proof of income as well as documentation of your monthly payments due on any Title IV loans not serviced by Nelnet. Title IV loans include loans made under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), Federal Direct Loan Program (FDLP), and Federal Perkins Loan Program. Forbearance is granted in periods of up to 12 months at a time with a cumulative maximum time limit of 36 months.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

Teachers at eligible schools may request forbearance if they are performing teaching service to qualify for loan forgiveness.

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    To qualify for this forbearance, you must be performing qualifying teaching service at an eligible elementary or secondary school or educational service agency. Additionally, at the time you request the forbearance, the forgiveness amount must satisfy the anticipated outstanding balance of your loan at the time forgiveness is expected to be granted. You must provide a statement certifying your intent to complete the qualifying service and the beginning and end dates of the current academic year of teaching service. Forbearance is granted in periods up to 12 months at a time.

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