Repayment Options

Postpone Payments

Once in repayment, there may be times when you are unable to make your monthly payment.

Repayment Options

A deferment allows you to temporarily stop making your federal student loan payments or temporarily reduce your monthly payment amount. This may help you avoid default.

Note: Interest still accrues during deferment. It’s important you understand whether you would be responsible for paying the accrued interest during this period and how that would impact your federal student loan. Deferment also impacts potential loan forgiveness options.

If you’re granted a deferment, you might still be responsible for paying the interest that accrues during the deferment period. The lists below shows when you are responsible for paying the interest and when you are not responsible based on loan type.

Loan Types Where You Are Generally NOT Responsible for Paying the Interest That Accrues During Deferment

  • Direct Subsidized Loans

  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans

  • The subsidized portion of Direct Consolidation Loans

  • The subsidized portion of FFEL Consolidation Loans


Loan Types Where You Are Responsible for Paying the Interest That Accrues During Deferment

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans

  • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans

  • Direct PLUS Loans

  • Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) PLUS Loans

  • The unsubsidized portion of Direct Consolidation Loans

  • The unsubsidized portion of FFEL Consolidation Loans


When you are responsible for paying the interest on your loans during a deferment, you can either pay the interest as it accrues, or you can allow it to accrue and be capitalized (added to your loan principal balance) at the end of the deferment period. If you don’t pay the interest on your loan and allow it to be capitalized, the total amount you repay over the life of your loan may be higher.

Deferment Type Description
Cancer Treatment

During a period when undergoing cancer treatment and for 6 months following the conclusion of treatment.

Economic Hardship

You may qualify for this deferment if you are receiving a means-tested benefit, like welfare (e.g., Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)); work full-time but have earnings that are below 150% of the poverty guideline for your family size and state of residence; or are serving in the Peace Corps. You can only receive this deferment for up to three years.

Graduate Fellowship

You may qualify for this deferment if you are enrolled in an approved graduate fellowship program. A graduate fellowship program is generally a program that provides financial support to graduate students to pursue graduate studies and research. Most graduate fellowship programs are for doctoral students, but some are available to master’s degree students.

In School

You are eligible for this deferment if you’re enrolled at least half-time at an eligible college or career school. If you’re a graduate or professional student who received a Direct PLUS Loan, you qualify for an additional six months of deferment after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time.

Important! If you are enrolled in an eligible college or career school at least half-time, in most cases your loan will be placed into a deferment automatically based on enrollment information reported by your school, and we will notify you that the deferment has been granted (no deferment form necessary). If you enroll at least half-time but do not automatically receive a deferment, you should contact the school where you are enrolled. Your school will then report information about your enrollment status so that your loan can be placed into deferment.

Military Service and Post-Active Duty Student

During a period of active duty military service during a war, military operation, or national emergency.

During the 13 months following the conclusion of qualifying active duty military service, or until you return to enrollment on at least a half-time basis, whichever is earlier, if you are a member of the National Guard or other reserve component of the U.S. armed forces and you were called or ordered to active duty while enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school or within six months of having been enrolled at least half-time.

Parent PLUS Borrower

You may qualify for this deferment if you’re a parent who received a Direct PLUS Loan to help pay for your child’s education, and the student you took the loan out for is enrolled at least half-time at an eligible college or career school. You can also receive a deferment for an additional six months after the student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time.

Rehabilitation Training

You may qualify for this deferment if you’re enrolled in an approved rehabilitation training program that is designed to provide vocational, drug abuse, mental health, or alcohol abuse rehabilitation treatment.

Unemployment

You may be eligible for this deferment if you receive unemployment benefits or you are seeking and unable to find full-time employment. You can receive this deferment for up to three years.


Additional eligibility criteria and requirements may apply. To determine if you qualify, please review the information included on the deferment form.


Forbearance is a temporary postponement of payment and should be requested as a last resort. Interest on both subsidized and unsubsidized loans remains the responsibility of the borrower. Unpaid accrued interest will capitalize (be added to your principal balance). Keep in mind that this may increase your total balance and monthly payment.


Mandatory forbearances will be granted to eligible borrowers for any of the following reasons:

Mandatory Forbearance Type Time Limit
Medical or Dental Internship or Residency Forbearance During a period when you are serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program, and you meet specific requirements.
Student Loan Debt Burden Forbearance When the total amount you owe each month for all the student loans you received is 20 percent or more of your total monthly gross income (for up to 3 years and additional conditions apply).
National Service Forbearance During a period when you are serving in a national service position for which you received a national service award.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Forbearance During a period when you are performing teaching service that would qualify for teacher loan forgiveness.
Department of Defense Loan Repayment Program Forbearance During a period when you qualify for partial repayment of your loans under the U.S. Department of Defense Student Loan Repayment Program.
National Guard Forbearance During a period when you are a member of the National Guard and have been activated by a governor, but you are not eligible for a military deferment.
Natural Disaster Forbearance During a federally-declared natural disaster where you live (for up to three months)

Additional eligibility criteria and requirements apply. To determine if you qualify, please call.


If you are not eligible for a mandatory forbearance, you may request a discretionary forbearance for reasons related to financial hardship or illness. The amount of time with which you can stay on a discretionary forbearance is limited and MOHELA encourages you to take advantage of repayment plans which may benefit you more and help you on your path to repayment.