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Deferments and Forbearance Options

If you have trouble making your education loan payments, immediately contact 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 Direct Loans, contact your loan servicer. If you do not know who your servicer is, you can look it up in the U.S. Department of Education's National Student Loan Data System SM ( NSLDSNew window icon SM ).

Important: Review comprehensive information on loan repayment here New window icon .


If you are unable to repay a loan that is part of the federal education loan program, there are deferment options for which you may be eligible. A deferment allows you to postpone your scheduled monthly payments.

If the loan is a subsidized Direct loan, the federal government may pay the interest during periods of deferment. If the loan is an unsubsidized Direct loan, you can pay the interest or it will be capitalized back (added on) to the principal of the loan. You should notify your lender immediately if you think you will have difficulty repaying your student loan or making on-time payments.


If you are willing but unable to make payments on your Direct student loan(s), and you do not qualify for a deferment, you can request forbearance. Forbearance is a temporary release from making loan payments, an extension of time for making payments or a temporary reduction in payment amounts.

One big difference between deferments and forbearance is that you are responsible for paying any interest that accrues on all types of loans during the forbearance period. You may pay the accruing interest, or add it to the loan principal (this is called "capitalizing") and pay it later when the forbearance ends. However, remember that capitalization means you will be paying interest on interest - the total cost of your loan repayment will be considerably higher.