Types of Deferments

Deferment temporarily puts your student loan payments on hold. If you meet certain criteria and you have loans through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) or the Direct Loan program (DL), you may be eligible for a deferment.

Although several deferments are available for all federal student loan borrowers, some are only available based on loan type and oldest outstanding debt. If you’re not sure if you qualify for a deferment, please contact American Student Assistance® (ASA) or your servicer.

For All Federal Student Loan Borrowers

For New Borrowers as of July 1, 1993

If this is your borrower category (see below), you may qualify for the following deferment types in addition to deferments available to all borrowers:

For Pre-July 1, 1993, Borrowers

If you are not a “new borrower,” you may be eligible for the following deferment types in addition to deferment available to all borrowers:

For Perkins Loan Borrowers Only

If you borrowed Perkins loans, you may be eligible for the deferments listed below.  You would also receive a post-deferment grace period of six consecutive months after any period of an approved deferment.  For more specifics or how to apply, please contact your lender.

 

Concurrent deferment is offered while you are working in services that qualify for Perkins loan discharge.  You can learn more about Perkins loan discharges here.

 

Every deferment has additional terms and conditions. Be sure to read each form carefully and keep a copy for your records. If you have any questions about your specific eligibility or deferment terms and conditions, please contact your servicer or ASA.

To calculate how your loan payments will be affected by any type of deferment, use our deferment calculator.

New Borrowers as of July 1, 1993

You are considered a “new borrower” if any of the following is true:

  • You received all of your Stafford, PLUS, or federal Consolidation loans on or after July 1, 1993.
  • You had no outstanding balances on Stafford, PLUS, or federal Consolidation loans prior to July 1, 1993, when you obtained additional Stafford, PLUS, or federal Consolidation loans.
  • You consolidated all of your outstanding Stafford, PLUS, or federal Consolidation loans into a federal Consolidation loan on or after July 1, 1993.

Graduate Fellowship Deferment

Postponement available if you are enrolled full time in an eligible graduate fellowship program and hold at least a bachelor's degree.

The graduate fellowship program must certify your participation.

How Long Does It Last?

You can use this deferment until you withdraw from or complete the fellowship program.

In-School Deferment

Postponement for when you are enrolled at an accredited school.

If you are a new borrower as of July 1, 1993, you must be enrolled at least half time. Definitions of half-time enrollment vary by school—it’s important to know how your school defines this.

If you are a pre-July 1, 1993 borrower, you may need to be enrolled full time to be eligible for this deferment.

Parent PLUS borrowers have always been able to use this deferment based on their own enrollment in an eligible school. However, borrowers of Parent PLUS loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, can use this deferment based on the enrollment of the student benefitting from the loan. The benefitting student must be enrolled at least half time.

How Long Does It Last?

There is no maximum amount of time for this deferment as long as you meet the criteria.

Military Deferment

Postponement if you are serving on active duty—or qualifying National Guard duty—during a war, a military operation, or a national emergency.

You must certify active duty and submit a copy of your military orders.

How Long Does It Last?

There is no maximum time limit—as long as you qualify, you will be granted this deferment from the time you enter active duty. This deferment will end 180 days after you are demobilized.

PLUS Loan Post-Enrollment Deferment

Postponement available to all PLUS loan borrowers. If you borrowed a Parent PLUS loan first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, you may postpone your payments for 6 months after the student benefitting from the loan drops below half-time enrollment.

Parent PLUS loan borrowers must request this deferment. Grad PLUS loan borrowers will be placed on this deferment automatically, but they should confirm this with their loan servicers.

How Long Does It Last?

This deferment can be used each time the student benefitting from the loan drops below half-time enrollment.

Post Active Duty Deferment

Postponement available to borrowers who were called to qualifying federal or state active duty while enrolled, or within 6 months of being enrolled, at an eligible institution.

This deferment will postpone payment for up to 13 months after your return from qualifying active duty.

How Long Does It Last?

There is no maximum length of time you can request this deferment. As long as you meet the eligibility criteria, you will be granted up to 13 months of deferment after active duty service.

Rehabilitation Training Deferment

Postponement available if you are engaged in a full-time program—30 hours a week for 3 months—of vocation rehabilitation, drug or alcohol abuse treatment, or mental health treatment.

The program must be licensed, certified, or otherwise recognized as providing rehabilitation training by a responsible state agency or the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A program official must certify the borrower’s participation.

How Long Does It Last?

You can use this deferment until you withdraw from or complete the rehabilitation training program.

Summer Bridge Deferment

Postponement for when you complete a degree in the spring and do not have a grace period to use before continuing your enrollment at least part time in the fall. This deferment ensures you do not enter repayment between the spring and fall semesters, when your grace period would otherwise be used.

How Long Does It Last?

There is no maximum amount of time for this deferment as long as you continue to meet the criteria.

Unemployment Deferment

Postponement available if you are working less than 30 hours a week and looking for—but unable to find—permanent, full-time employment. In addition, you must be either:

  • Receiving unemployment benefits.
  • Registered with an employment agency within 50 miles of your home. School placement offices, temp agencies and online employment websites (such as Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com) may not count toward this requirement, unless you are enrolled in the online employment website’s enhanced services that meet the criteria of an employment agency.

How Long Does It Last?

This deferment allows you to postpone payments 6 months at a time. For each 6-month period of deferment, you must make at least 6 diligent attempts to obtain full-time employment.

If you are a "new" borrower post-July 1, 1993, you can request this deferment for up to 3 years. All other borrowers can only request this deferment for up to 2 years.

Economic Hardship Deferment

Postponement that you can use if you’re facing a period of economic difficulties. You must be either:

  • Receiving federal or state welfare aid.
  • Earning less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines for your family size.
  • Serving in the Peace Corps.

How Long Does It Last?

You can request this deferment for up to 3 years.

Internship/Residency Training Deferment

Also known as the Education-Related Deferment, this postponement is available while you are serving in an internship or residency program in order to begin professional practice or service. You can also use this if your program leads to a degree or certificate awarded by an eligible institution or health care facility that offers post-graduate training.

You must hold at least a bachelor's degree before being accepted into the program, and the program must be supervised. You will need an authorized official from your internship or residency's organization to certify your deferment request form.

Education Related Deferment Request (pdf, 0.07 MB)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Deferment

Postponement available while you're on active duty service in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An authorized official must certify your active duty.

How Long Does It Last?

You can use this deferment for up to 3 years. Use the same form as for other forms of public service. 

Parental Leave Deferment

Postponement available if you are pregnant or caring for a newborn or newly adopted child. You cannot be working full time, and must have been attending school within 6 months prior to the beginning of the deferment.

How Long Does It Last?

You can use this deferment for up to 6 months for each time you qualify.

Peace Corps/ACTION/Tax-Exempt Volunteer Deferment

Postponement available if you are serving full time for at least 1 year in the Peace Corps, an ACTION program, or a tax-exempt organization determined comparable by the U.S. Department of Education.

You must be working for a nonreligious organization and be making less than minimum wage to qualify.

How Long Does It Last?

You can use this deferment for up to 3 years.

How do I apply?

To apply, use either the Public Service Deferment or Economic Hardship Deferment request form.

Public Service Deferment Request  (pdf, 0.08 MB) Economic Hardship Deferment Request  (pdf, 0.07 MB)

Public Health Services Deferment

Postponement available if you are serving full time in the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS).

You must have an authorized official of the U.S. Public Health Service certify your completed Public Health Service Deferment Request Form.

How Long Does It Last?

You can use this deferment for up to 3 years.

Teacher Shortage Deferment

Postponement available if you are teaching full time in a public or nonprofit private elementary or secondary school in a teacher shortage area, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education.

You can use this deferment for up to 3 years. 

Temporary Total Disability Deferment

Postponement if you are temporarily totally disabled, unable to secure or continue employment because you are temporarily disabled or you are caring for a dependent or spouse who is temporarily totally disabled.

You must be unable to work and earn money due to the disability for at least 60 days, or be providing continuous care for a dependent or spouse during a period of at least 90 consecutive days.

You must have an M.D. or a D.O. certify your deferment request every 6 months throughout the duration of the deferment and condition.

How Long Does It Last?

You can use this deferment for up to 3 years.

Working Mother Deferment

Postponement for mothers who have preschool-age children and are entering or re-entering the work force.

You must have entered or re-entered the workforce within 1 year before this deferment request. You must be working full time in a position and not earn more than $1 per hour above the federal minimum wage.

How Long Does It Last?

You can use this deferment for up to 1 year.

Graduate Fellowship Deferment

Postponement available if you are enrolled in a graduate fellowship program approved by the Department of Education or engaged in a graduate or postgraduate fellowship-support study outside the U.S.


Borrower requirements:
• You must have a Bachelor’s degree.
• You must be accepted or be recommended by an institution of higher education for acceptance into a graduate fellowship program.


Fellowship program requirements:
• Must be full-time.
• Must have an anticipated completion date.
• Must provide financial support to the fellow for at least six-months.
• Must require you to provide a written statement of objectives as part of the fellowship award process.
• Must require you to submit periodic reports, projects or evidence of progress.


How Long Does It Last?
There is no maximum amount of time for this deferment as long as you meet the criteria.

Unemployment Deferment

Postponement available if you are seeking but are unable to secure full-time employment – at least 30 hours per week that is expected to last at least three months.  You would need to provide proof of unemployment compensation benefits or proof of your registration with an unemployment agency.  You are not eligible if you refuse to consider positions, salaries, or responsibility levels that you deem you are over qualified for due to education or experience.


How Long Does It Last?
This deferment is available for up to three years.

Economic Hardship Deferment

Postponement available if you are experiencing an economic hardship which is defined as:


• Working full-time but earning less than 150% of the poverty guideline for your family size or less than minimum wage (whichever is greater);
• Your student loan debt is excessive in comparison to your income as defined by program regulations.  Please contact your loan holder to learn more; or
• You receive federal or state welfare aid.


How Long Does It Last?
This postponement is available for up to three years.

Hardship Deferment

Postponement available for principle only, interest will continue to accrue.  Available for prolonged periods of illness or unemployment and is subject to the discretion of the lending school.

How Long Does It Last?

Unlimited.

Contact your school for more information.

Volunteer Deferment

For loans made before July 1, 1993.


Postponement available if you are serving as a volunteer.  The service must be at least one full year long, and:


    • Be tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code or be authorized under Title I of the Domestic Volunteer Act of 1973 (ACTION programs), or
    • Provide service to low-income persons and their communities to assist in eliminating poverty and poverty-related human, social, and environmental conditions, or
    • Only offer a stipend as compensation or be less than the federal minimum wage, and
    • Not be religious instruction, conducting worship services, or engaging in religious proselytizing.


How Long Does It Last?
The deferment is for up to three years.

Active Duty Armed Forces Deferment

Postponement available to active duty members for the US Armed Forces who are called to active duty to duty stations other than their normal stations due to war, military operation, or national emergency.  


Postponement available as of October 1, 2007 for members of the Reserves, the National Guard, or members of the US Armed Forces who are retired when they were enrolled at least half-time at a post-secondary institution when called to active duty or within six month prior to their activation.


How Long Does It Last?
For active duty members of the US Armed Forces, the postponement will last up to 180 days after the end of the active duty service.


For the Reserves, National Guard, or retired US Armed Forces members who were enrolled at a post-secondary institution within six months of being called to active duty after October 1, 2007, the postponement is for up to 13 months following the completion of the active duty service.

Temporary Total Disability Deferment

Postponement available if you are unable to work or attend school due to illness or injury or if you are providing full-time care to a temporarily disabled spouse.  You are considered temporarily totally disabled if you have been unable to work for at least 60 days because of time needed to recover from an injury or illness.  Your dependent or spouse is considered temporarily totally disabled if they require continuous nursing or similar service for at least 90 days after an injury or illness.


You must provide an affidavit from a qualified physician that states the nature of the medical condition and its expected duration.


How Long Does It Last?
The deferment is for up to three years for loans made before July 1, 1993.  If your first loan was disbursed between July 1, 1987 and June 30, 1993, you may apply while caring for a disabled, dependent child.

Mother of Pre-Schooler/Returning to Work Deferment

For loans made prior to July 1, 1993.


Postponement available if you are a mother of pre-school aged children (defined as not yet enrolled in first grade or a higher grade in elementary school) and working or returning to the workforce full-time – at least 30 hours per week for at least three months.  You must not be earning more than $1.00 above the federal minimum wage.


How Long Does It Last?
The deferment is for up to 12 months.

Internship/Residency Deferment

For loans made prior to July 1, 1993.


Postponement available if you have at least a Bachelor’s degree and are serving in an internship program that is required in order to begin professional practice or a medical internship or residency program that leads to a degree or certificate awarded by a higher education institution, hospital, or healthcare facility that offers postgraduate training.

How Long Does It Last?
This deferment is available for up to two years.

Full-time or Half-time Enrollment in School Deferment

Postponement available if you are enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at a Title IV accredited institution.

How Long Does It Last?

There is no maximum amount of time for this deferment as long as you meet the criteria.

Rehabilitation Training Deferment

Postponement available if you are engaged in a full-time rehabilitation training program for disabled individuals.  The program must be licensed, certified, or otherwise recognized as providing rehabilitation training by a responsible state agency or the Department of Veterans Affairs.


The program must provide services under a written plan that:


• Is individualized to meet your needs;
• Specifies the date on which the services began and when they are expected to end; and
• Is structured in a way that requires a substantial commitment by you to your rehabilitation.


A program official must certify the borrower’s participation.


How Long Does It Last?
There is no maximum amount of time for this deferment as long as you meet the criteria.

Public Health Services Deferment

For loans made prior to July 1, 1993.


Postponement available if you serve as a full-time officer in the Commissioned Corps of Public Health of the United States Public Health Services.


How Long Does It Last?
This deferment is available for up to three years.