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Deferment

The borrower may request the lender to temporarily postpone (defer) student loan payments for a period of time for a specific reason. The federal government will pay the interest accrued during deferment for subsidized Federal Stafford loans. For unsubsidized Federal Stafford and PLUS loans, only the principal is deferred; the borrower is responsible for paying the interest during deferment.

Deferments are not automatic. The borrower must contact the lender as soon as an event occurs that temporarily affects the ability to make the loan payments.

The borrower must continue to make the loan payments until deferment is approved.

Deferment Options

Several deferment options are available. Each has a specific time limitation associated with it. Mapping Your Future provides charts in its Deferments and Forbearance sections that are designed to assist the borrower in determining a deferment eligibility.

Deferment Options Time Limits
Enrollment in school at least half time No time limit
Graduate fellowship No time limit
Military Service No time limit 
Rehabilitation training No time limit
Post-Active Duty Student 13 months 
Unemployment 36 months
Economic hardship 36 months
Temporary Total Disability 36 months

Requesting a Deferment

Deferments are not automatic. To request a deferment the borrower must:

  1. Contact the lender. The lender will determine if the borrower is eligible for a deferment. Deferment eligibility is based on the date the first Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loan was disbursed. Some deferments can be granted by the lender based on information gathered from other sources, such as a new loan for a borrower, or a deferement granted by another FFELP lender or Direct Loans. A Military Service deferment may be granted at the request of a borrower's representative.
  2. Obtain the proper deferment request form from the lender or from the Deferments/Forbearance sections of Mapping Your Future.
  3. Complete the deferment request form and return it to the lender. (The borrower may request an In School Deferment without completing a deferment form. The lender would have the details.)
  4. Provide any required supporting documentation and/or certifications to the lender.
  5. Continue to make student loan payments until the deferment request is approved. If the borrower stops making payments, they may default and lose deferment eligibility.

Unable to Make Payments

If the borrower is unable to make monthly payments, he/she should contact the lender immediately to avoid default by considering alternative repayment options. In addition to loan deferment, forbearance or forgiveness may be an option depending upon the circumstances.