Understanding student loans can feel overwhelming, but knowing your options, such as deferment and forbearance, can make managing your debt more manageable.
If you meet certain criteria, you may be eligible to receive a deferment or forbearance, which allows you to temporarily postpone or reduce your federal student loan monthly payments. This will help you avoid defaulting on the loan, even if you are facing financial hardship. Your loan servicer can help you apply for deferment or forbearance. However, you must continue to make payments on the loan until the deferment or forbearance has been approved. If you do not, you will be delinquent and may face defaulting on your loan.
Here’s a simple guide to help you understand these options and decide if they’re right for you.
Deferment and Forbearance – Let’s Get Into It…
When life throws unexpected challenges your way, paying off student loans can seem impossible. But worry not! There are provisions like deferment and forbearance that can help you manage your loans better during tough times.
What is Deferment?
Deferment is like pressing the pause button on your student loan repayments. When your loan is in deferment, you’re allowed to stop making payments temporarily, without harming your credit score.
When Can You Use Deferment?
You might be eligible for deferment if you’re:
- Enrolled in school at least half-time
- Facing economic hardship
- Serving in the military
What Happens to Interest During Deferment?
For subsidized loans (government pays interest during school), interest does not accrue during deferment. For unsubsidized loans, interest continues to accumulate, and you’ll have to pay it once you start repaying the loan again.
What is Forbearance?
Forbearance, like deferment, allows you to temporarily stop making payments or reduce your monthly payment amount for a specific period, usually up to 12 months.
When Can You Use Forbearance?
You might be eligible for forbearance if you’re:
- Dealing with medical expenses
- Facing financial difficulties
- Undergoing a change in employment
- Encountering other situations approved by your lender
What Happens to Interest During Forbearance?
Unlike deferment, interest continues to accrue on all types of loans during forbearance, increasing the total amount you owe.
How to Apply for Deferment or Forbearance:
To apply for deferment or forbearance, contact your loan servicer (the company that handles your loan payments) and discuss your situation. They will guide you on the necessary steps and documents required.
Things to Consider:
- Short-Term Relief: Deferment and forbearance offer temporary relief but do not solve long-term financial issues.
- Interest Accumulation: Interest can accumulate and increase your total debt, especially in forbearance, making it essential to explore other options like income-driven repayment plans.
- Effect on Loan Forgiveness: Periods of deferment and forbearance might not count towards loan forgiveness programs, so be sure to check the terms.
Deferment and forbearance can be lifesavers when managing student loans becomes overwhelming due to unforeseen circumstances. However, it’s crucial to understand that these are temporary solutions and might not be suitable for everyone, especially considering the interest accumulation during these periods. Evaluate your financial situation, explore all available options, and choose wisely to keep your financial future secure. Keep communication lines open with your loan servicer, stay informed, and make decisions that are right for your unique circumstances.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.