Dealing with student loan debt after graduating can be overwhelming. Student loan deferment is when the repayment of the principal and interest on your student loan is temporarily delayed. While that might sound convenient if you want to put those payments off a bit longer, you have to meet certain criteria. Even if you do qualify, is it the best option for you? ACCC explains what you need to know!
Eligibility for Student Loan Deferment
You may be eligible for student loan deferment if you are unemployed or cannot find a full-time job. If you do have a full-time job, but your income is below 150% of the poverty guideline for your family size and state, you can still qualify. Other situations in which you may be eligible for deferment include serving in the Peace Corps, being an active duty military member, undergoing cancer treatment, or being enrolled in a graduate fellowship program.
For a more comprehensive list, visit StudentAid.gov.
Pros and Cons of Student Loan Deferment
The main advantage of deferment is that it alleviates some of the financial stress temporarily. If you were struggling and living paycheck-to-paycheck, you can pay your bills more easily. It also gives you time to get your finances in order and come up with a plan to tackle your debt.
Of course, there are some disadvantages as well. If your loans aren’t subsidized, then interest will continue to accumulate while in deferment. This will increase the amount of time it takes you to pay off your loan later. Additionally, deferring your student loans can affect your eligibility for student loan forgiveness. For example, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program requires you to have made 120 consecutive payments on your student loans. If you have a gap because of deferment, you no longer qualify.
Other Options for Student Loan Debt Relief
There are plenty of other options for student loan debt relief if you’ve hit tough times financially. Student loan consolidation can be a good option, because it will combine your loans and potentially give you a lower interest rate. If you can’t get a good interest rate, there are other repayment plans too! Here are a few examples:
- Standard Repayment Plan
- Graduated Repayment Plan
- Extended Repayment Plan
- Income-Based Repayment Loan
- Income-Contingent Repayment Plan
- Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan
You may want to call a credit counseling agency to learn what the best option is for your financial situation if you’re unsure. Credit counselors will walk you through your budget and ask you about your assets and liabilities to determine the best plan. Calling a nonprofit credit counseling agency is free, so this type of help won’t cost you a dime!
If you struggle to pay off debt, ACCC may be able to help. Schedule a free credit counseling session today.