When it comes to managing student loans, there may be times when circumstances make it difficult to meet your repayment obligations. In such situations, student loan deferment can provide temporary relief by allowing you to pause or reduce your loan payments for a specific period. This comprehensive article aims to provide a deep understanding of student loan deferment, including eligibility criteria and the application process. By exploring the various types of deferment and the steps involved, borrowers can navigate the deferment process with confidence and make informed decisions about managing their student loans effectively.

What is Student Loan Deferment?

Student loan deferment is a temporary suspension or reduction of loan payments for a specific period, during which interest may or may not accrue. It is important to differentiate deferment from forbearance, as the eligibility criteria and terms may differ. Deferment is typically granted for specific situations, such as returning to school, participating in graduate fellowships, facing economic hardship, or serving in the military.

Types of Deferment

  1. In-school deferment:
    • Eligibility while enrolled at least half-time in an eligible educational institution.
    • Requirements for certification by your school and verification of enrollment status.
  2. Graduate fellowship deferment:
    • Eligibility during enrollment in an approved graduate fellowship program.
    • Documentation and verification requirements to demonstrate participation in the fellowship program.
  3. Economic hardship deferment:
    • Eligibility criteria based on income, unemployment, or other financial hardships.
    • Requirements for providing documentation of financial status, such as tax returns or proof of unemployment.
  4. Military service deferment:
    • Eligibility during active duty military service or deployment.
    • Verification process to confirm military status and service dates.
  5. Other deferment options:
    • Parental leave deferment: Eligibility during periods of parental leave or caring for a newborn or adopted child.
    • Temporary total disability deferment: Eligibility for borrowers facing temporary total disability.
    • Peace Corps or AmeriCorps deferment: Eligibility for volunteers serving in these organizations.

Eligibility Criteria for Deferment

  • General eligibility requirements for deferment:
    • Must hold eligible federal student loans.
    • Must be in a qualifying situation for the specific deferment type.
    • Must meet any additional criteria set by the loan servicer or loan program.
  • Specific criteria for each type of deferment:
    • In-school deferment: Enrollment status, minimum credit requirements, and program eligibility.
    • Graduate fellowship deferment: Acceptance into an approved fellowship program.
    • Economic hardship deferment: Demonstrating financial hardship through income, unemployment, or other factors.
    • Military service deferment: Active duty military service or deployment status.
  • Documentation and verification process:
    • Required forms and supporting documents vary by deferment type.
    • Proof of enrollment, fellowship acceptance, financial hardship, or military service may be necessary.
    • The loan servicer or loan program will provide specific instructions on documentation requirements.

Deferment Application Process

  • Overview of the application process for deferment:
    • Contacting your loan servicer or accessing the necessary forms online.
    • Gathering required documentation to support your deferment request.
    • Completing the application accurately and providing all necessary information.
  • Submission procedures and deadlines:
    • Submitting the application online, by mail, or through a designated portal.
    • Adhering to specified deadlines for submitting the application.
    • Retaining copies of the application and supporting documents for your records.

Deferment Duration and Renewal

  • Maximum duration of deferment for each type:
    • Different deferment types have varying maximum durations.
    • Understanding the specific timeframes for your chosen deferment type.
  • Factors affecting the duration of deferment:
    • Your specific circumstances and eligibility criteria determine the length of your deferment.
    • Meeting ongoing eligibility requirements to continue deferment.
  • Renewal process for extending deferment:
    • Renewing your deferment after the initial period expires.
    • Providing updated documentation or meeting specific renewal requirements.
  • Potential consequences of exceeding deferment limits:
    • Understanding the implications of exceeding the maximum allowable deferment duration.
    • The potential impact on interest accrual, loan balance, and future repayment obligations.

Exiting Deferment and Resuming Loan Repayment

  • Exiting deferment and transitioning back to loan repayment:
    • Understanding the end date of your deferment period.
    • Preparing for resuming loan payments after the deferment period concludes.
  • Grace periods and repayment plan options:
    • Utilizing any available grace period to ease the transition from deferment to repayment.
    • Considering different repayment plan options that align with your financial situation.
  • Notifying loan servicers and updating contact information:
    • Informing your loan servicer of your transition out of deferment.
    • Updating your contact information to ensure smooth communication.


In conclusion, student loan deferment can provide temporary relief for borrowers facing financial challenges. By understanding the eligibility criteria, types of deferment, application process, and potential consequences, borrowers can make informed decisions about managing their student loans effectively. It is important to assess your individual circumstances, explore the available deferment options, and communicate with your loan servicer throughout the process. Remember, deferment should be utilized strategically and responsibly to ensure a successful transition back to loan repayment when the deferment period concludes.