Should I consider requesting a deferment or forbearance for my federal student loans?
Did you take on a large amount of debt to pay for college, and are you struggling to pay it off? If so, you are not alone. According to the Federal Reserve, 20% of individuals with outstanding student loans were behind on their payments in 2017.1 You may want to consider requesting a deferment or forbearance if you are having difficulty keeping up with your federal student loan payments.
Provided certain eligibility requirements are met, both a deferment and a forbearance allow you to temporarily stop making payments or temporarily reduce your monthly payment amount for a specified time period. The key difference between the two is that with a deferment, you may not have to pay back any interest that accrues on the loan during the deferment period, depending on the type of loan you have. During a forbearance, you are responsible for paying any accrued interest on the loan, regardless of the type of loan you have.
In order to obtain a deferment or forbearance, you will need to submit a request to your loan servicer. Most deferments and forbearances are granted for a specific time period (e.g., six months), and you may need to reapply periodically to maintain your eligibility. In addition, there is usually a limit to the number of times they are granted over the course of your loan. If you meet the eligibility requirements for a mandatory forbearance (e.g., National Guard duty), your lender is required to grant you a forbearance.
Whenever interest accrues on a loan during a deferment or forbearance, you can either pay the interest as it accrues, or it can be added to the overall principal balance of the loan at the end of the deferment or forbearance period. It is important to remember that if you don't pay the interest on your loans and allow it to accrue, the total amount you repay over the life of your loan will be higher. As a result, you should weigh the pros and cons of requesting a deferment or forbearance and consider your repayment options. For more information on your federal student loan repayment options, visit studentaid.ed.gov.
1Federal Reserve, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017, May 2018