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Deferment and Forbearance

If you want additional information to help you avoid default, visit the Department's Debt Collection Service website.


A deferment is a postponement of payment on a loan, during which interest does not accrue if the loan is subsidized.

You may qualify for a deferment while you are:

  • Enrolled at least half time in an eligible postsecondary school or studying full time in a graduate fellowship program or an approved disability rehabilitation program.
  • Unemployed or meet our rules for economic hardship (limited to 3 years).
  • 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 you are serving on or after Oct 1, 2007, for the 180-day period following the demobilization date for your qualifying service.
  • A member of the National Guard or other reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces (current or retired) and are called or ordered to active duty while enrolled at an eligible school, or within 6 months of having been enrolled, you are also eligible for a deferment during the 13 months following the conclusion of your active duty service, or until you return to enrolled student status, whichever is earlier.

In most cases, you need to submit a deferment request to the Direct Loan Servicing Center along with documentation of your eligibility for the deferment. Visit their website for more information.

If you've gone back to school and the Direct Loan Servicing Center receives enrollment information that shows you're enrolled at least half time, it will automatically put your loans into deferment and notify you. You have the option of cancelling the deferment and continuing to make payments on your loan.

If you are in default on your loan, you are not eligible for a deferment or forbearance.


If you can't make your scheduled loan payments, but don't qualify for a deferment, we may be able to give you a forbearance. A forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan, temporarily make smaller payments, or extend the time for making payments. Some common reasons for getting a forbearance are illness, financial hardship or serving in a medical or dental internship or residency. See your copy of the Borrower's Rights and Responsibilities Statement for more examples. You can get more information by calling the Direct Loan Servicing Center at 1-800-848-0979.

Under certain circumstances, we can automatically give you a forbearance, for instance, while we're processing a deferment, forbearance, cancellation, change in repayment plan or consolidation, or if you're involved in a military mobilization or a local or national emergency.

Last updated February 10, 2009

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