But What if You Really Can’t Make the Loan Payments

If you are unable to make your full monthly payment on time, contact your lender as soon as possible.  Explain your situation.  Your lender may grant you forbearance, for a limited and specific time, meaning that your loan payments may be postponed or reduced.  You will still have to pay interest on the loan during the forbearance period.  You must still make your full loan payments on time until the forbearance is granted. There are certain, limited reasons that may make it possible for your loan to be deferred (delayed) or discharged (cancelled). 

  • Loan Deferment

Deferring the loan means that your lender agrees to let you to temporarily postpone having to repay your student loan.  There are very limited situations under which a lender will grant a loan deferment:

  1. if you go back to college or graduate school at least half-time before the end of the grace period (when your repayment would be required to start);
  2. if you are called up or ordered to 30+ days of active duty in the U.S. military you can be eligible for another three years of grace period;
  3. if you are temporarily disabled and in rehabilitation;
  4. if you are unable to find full-time employment; or
  5. if you are suffering a significant economic hardship.

If you have a Perkins loan you may qualify for loan deferment if you work full-time in certain public sector jobs after graduation (such as teaching in a low-income school district or area that is suffering a teacher shortage, or serving in law enforcement or with the Peace Corps).  Contact your school for more information about possible Perkins loan deferment qualifications. 

  • Loan Discharge

Under certain extreme situations you may qualify to have all, or a portion of, your loan discharged, or cancelled.  For example, if…

  • You die or become permanently or totally disabled
  • Your school closes before you could complete your program
  • Your school forged your signature or certified you for a loan to take classes that weren’t available
  • You work in a specifically designated public service profession
  • You serve in the U.S. Armed Forces
  • You file for bankruptcy and a judge rules that having to repay the loan would create undue hardship (although this is very rare)

Contact your loan holder (school, private lender or U.S. Department of Education) if you think you may qualify for loan deferment or discharge.