Life does not always go as planned. You might have to drop below half-time enrollment status due to a family crisis or you may lose your job in an economic downturn. Although these circumstances don’t happen to everyone, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the options available to you should your financial situation change.
A deferment allows you to temporarily postpone payment on your student loans. You may qualify for deferment if you are:
- Enrolled at least half-time in an eligible postsecondary school
- Unemployed or meet the rules for financial hardship (limited to three years)
- Serving in the Armed Forces or National Guard
Generally, you must request deferment from your loan servicer and provide documentation of your eligibility. If your servicer receives information that you are enrolled at least half-time it will automatically defer your loans. If you want to continue to make payments, you can always cancel the deferment.
A forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan or make smaller payments. Common reasons for getting a forbearance include illness or financial hardship.
If at any time you drop below half-time enrollment status, your loans will enter repayment after a six-month grace period. In the event that you are unable to make payments when repayment begins, requesting a forbearance may be your only option. However, if you return to school before your grace period ends, you will receive a new six-month grace period upon graduation.
Talk to your student loan servicer to determine what options are best for your financial situation. Your servicer can help you understand both the benefits and the drawbacks of deferments and forbearances, allowing you to stay on top of your student debt load when life takes an unexpected turn.