What You Need to Know About Loan Forbearance and Deferment Options


In today’s uncertain financial landscape, many borrowers find themselves facing unexpected challenges when it comes to repaying their loans. Whether it’s student loans, mortgages, or personal loans, life can throw curveballs that make it difficult to keep up with monthly payments. In such situations, loan forbearance and deferment can be a lifeline, providing temporary relief. However, understanding the nuances of these options is crucial to make informed decisions.

What is Loan Forbearance?

Loan forbearance is a temporary pause or reduction in your monthly loan payments. It is typically granted during periods of financial hardship or other situations that make it challenging to meet your repayment obligations. The key feature of forbearance is that interest continues to accrue on your loan balance during the forbearance period.

Types of Loan Forbearance:

  1. General Forbearance: This is the most common type of forbearance and is available for federal student loans, as well as some private student loans and other types of loans. General forbearance can be granted for various reasons, including financial hardship, illness, or changes in employment.
  2. Mandatory Forbearance: If you meet specific criteria, such as serving in AmeriCorps, being in a medical or dental internship or residency, or being a member of the National Guard and called to active duty, your loan servicer may be required to grant you forbearance.
  3. Discretionary Forbearance: For other situations not covered by general or mandatory forbearance, loan servicers have the discretion to grant forbearance on a case-by-case basis. This type of forbearance is usually used when there are unique circumstances not specified in the other categories.

Pros of Loan Forbearance:

  1. Temporary Relief: Forbearance provides immediate relief when you’re facing financial difficulties, allowing you to postpone or reduce your loan payments temporarily.
  2. No Negative Credit Impact: Loan forbearance does not have a direct impact on your credit score since it’s a temporary agreement with your lender.

Cons of Loan Forbearance:

  1. Accruing Interest: One significant drawback is that interest continues to accrue on your loan balance during forbearance. This means your overall loan amount may increase over time.
  2. Short-Term Solution: Forbearance is not a long-term solution for managing loan payments. It’s meant to provide temporary relief and should not be used as a default option.
  3. Eligibility Requirements: Depending on the type of forbearance, you may need to meet specific eligibility criteria to qualify.

What is Loan Deferment?

Loan deferment is another option for temporary relief from loan payments. Like forbearance, it allows you to postpone making payments on your loans for a specified period. However, the key difference is that, in most cases, interest does not accrue on subsidized federal student loans during the deferment period.

Types of Loan Deferment:

  1. In-School Deferment: If you are enrolled in school at least half-time, you may be eligible for an in-school deferment on your federal student loans. During this period, you are not required to make payments, and interest typically does not accrue on subsidized loans.
  2. Economic Hardship Deferment: This type of deferment is available for federal student loans and is granted if you are experiencing financial hardship, such as unemployment, low income, or receiving government assistance.
  3. Military Service Deferment: If you are on active duty military service or have been recently discharged, you may be eligible for a military service deferment.
  4. Parent PLUS Borrower Deferment: Parents who have taken out Parent PLUS loans on behalf of their children can qualify for deferment while the student is enrolled in school at least half-time.

Pros of Loan Deferment:

  1. No Interest Accrual: For subsidized federal student loans, interest does not accrue during the deferment period, reducing the long-term cost of the loan.
  2. Temporary Relief: Deferment provides a temporary break from loan payments, which can be beneficial during financial hardship.
  3. Preservation of Benefits: During deferment, borrowers with subsidized loans may retain their eligibility for certain benefits like income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs.

Cons of Loan Deferment:

  1. Eligibility Requirements: Just like forbearance, deferment may have specific eligibility criteria, and not all borrowers may qualify.
  2. Interest Accrual on Unsubsidized Loans: If you have unsubsidized federal student loans or private loans, interest will continue to accrue during deferment, potentially increasing your loan balance.
  3. Temporary Solution: Deferment, like forbearance, is a short-term solution and should not be relied upon as a long-term financial strategy.

Choosing Between Forbearance and Deferment:

The choice between loan forbearance and deferment depends on your specific circumstances and loan types. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

  1. Loan Type: If you have subsidized federal student loans, deferment may be more favorable as interest does not accrue during the deferment period. For other types of loans or unsubsidized student loans, forbearance may be the only option.
  2. Financial Situation: Consider your current financial situation and the reason for seeking relief. If you are facing temporary hardship, either option may work. If your financial struggles are likely to be more prolonged, explore long-term repayment options like income-driven repayment plans.
  3. Eligibility: Check with your loan servicer to determine whether you meet the eligibility criteria for forbearance or deferment.
  4. Long-Term Goals: Think about your long-term financial goals and how these options fit into your overall financial plan. Both forbearance and deferment are temporary solutions, so it’s essential to have a plan for resuming regular payments.


Loan forbearance and deferment are valuable options for borrowers facing financial challenges, providing much-needed relief when needed most. However, it’s crucial to understand the differences between these options, their pros and cons, and how they apply to your specific loans and circumstances. Remember that both forbearance and deferment are temporary solutions and should not be used as a long-term strategy. To make an informed decision, consult with your loan servicer and consider your long-term financial goals, ensuring that these options align with your overall financial plan. By navigating loan forbearance and deferment wisely, you can maintain control over your finances even during challenging times.

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