Deferment and Forbearance

It is possible that a borrower may face circumstances that will make loan payments difficult. Under such circumstances, it may be possible to suspend repayment for a specified period of time. Two possible options are deferment and forebearance and these options are described in detail below.  

If at any time you face difficulties making loan payments, it is imperative that you contact your lender immediately. Failure to make an on-time payment can lead to a poor credit history which, in turn, can make it difficult to buy a house, rent an apartment, buy a car, etc.  It can also take you a long time to rehabilitate a poor credit history. 

Many lenders also offer interest deductions or other incentives for a specified number of on-time payments. Missing one payment can often jeopardize your ability to benefit from such incentives. If you are proactive and contact your lender when you face difficulty paying, you may be able to keep your benefits in tact. 

It is also important that you contact your lender any time you change your address or phone number in order to facilitate continual communication about your repayment. 


Deferment is a period of time when a borrower is allowed to postpone repaying the principal and/or interest on a loan. Most federal loan programs allow students to defer repaying their loans while they are in school at least halftime. Deferments are an entitlement that your federal loan lender/holder/servicer must approve if you meet the requirements and provide the necessary documentation as specified in the promissory note. For example, you might qualify for a deferment if you are enrolled in an eligible graduate fellowship program or if you face unemployment or other economic hardships.


Forbearance is an agreement between the borrower and the lender/holder/servicer of a loan that allows for: temporary postponement of payments; extension of time for making payments; or temporary acceptance of payments that are smaller than required by the repayment schedule. Forbearances are available at the discretion of the lender for both federal and private loans.