Student Loan Pause – When to Pause a Student Loan

Student loan pause, also called deferment or forbearance, is vital for borrowers dealing with money issues. With education costs going up and events like the COVID-19 pandemic affecting finances, getting relief from student loans would go a long way. Learning how to pause student loans can give people space to manage their money while studying or working. In this article, we’ll talk about what student loan pause is, when to pause a loan, and the type of loans you can pause.

Student Loan Pause - When to Pause a Student Loan

What is a Student Loan Pause?

A loan pause allows borrowers to avoid making full payments on their loans. Payments can be halted or reduced for a specific period, but borrowers still owe the full amount eventually. This option is arranged with the lender or servicer to help those facing financial hardships.

What is the Student Loan Pause Called?

For federal student loans, a loan pause is called deferment or forbearance. These options allow borrowers to stop payments or reduce their monthly obligations temporarily, helping them avoid default and manage financial difficulties.


Deferment is a temporary break from making payments on your student loans. During deferment, you don’t have to pay anything, and in some cases, the government might even cover the interest that accrues on your loans. Deferment is usually granted for specific reasons like going back to school, being unemployed, or facing financial hardship. It’s like hitting the pause button on your loan payments until you’re in a better position to start paying again.


Forbearance is when your lender lets you temporarily stop or reduce your student loan payments because you’re going through financial difficulty. During forbearance, you don’t have to make full payments, but interest continues to accrue on your loan. It’s like a temporary break from paying, but you might end up owing more in the long run because of the interest that builds up. It’s typically granted for a limited time until you can start making regular payments again.

When did the student loan pause start

The interest-free student loan payment pause, called forbearance, started as an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. It was extended nine times over three and a half years, showing its importance during economic challenges.

What is the difference between Deferment and Forbearance

Deferment and forbearance both temporarily relieve borrowers of federal student loan obligations. The difference lies in interest accrual. During deferment, interest may not accumulate on certain loans, providing more financial relief. However, during forbearance, interest accrues on all loans, potentially increasing the total debt over time.

How can I know if I’m eligible for a student loan pause?

Eligibility for a student loan pause is determined by a variety of factors, including

  • Your loan type,
  • Financial position, and
  • The precise circumstances specified by your loan servicer or lender.

Contact your loan servicer or lender to discuss your situation and see if you are eligible for deferment or forbearance options.

Step by Step on How to Pause Student Loans

Here is a step-by-step instruction for pausing your student loans, often known as deferment or forbearance.

Contact your loan servicer

Contact the company that services your student loans. Their contact information can be found on your loan statements or in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) if you have federal loans.

Explain your situation

Explain to your loan servicer why you need to pause your payments. Whether it is due to financial difficulty, returning to school, military deployment, or other qualifying circumstances, be prepared to submit details and any required documents.

Deferment or Forbearance

Learn the distinction between deferment and forbearance. Deferment often allows you to temporarily postpone payments on certain types of loans, such as federally subsidized loans, without incurring interest. Forbearance, on the other hand, allows you to temporarily suspend or reduce payments, but interest may still be charged on all forms of loans.

Check Eligibility

Make sure you fulfill the eligibility requirements for deferral or forbearance based on your loan type and situation. Your loan servicer can advise you on whether you qualify and which choice is most suited to your needs.

Submit an application

Fill out the deferment or forbearance application offered by your loan servicer. Make sure to accurately fill out all relevant information and submit any supporting paperwork as needed. Several services may offer online applications for convenience.

Await Approval

After submitting your application, wait for your loan servicer to approve it. They will analyze your request and notify you of their decision, usually within a few weeks.
By following these steps and collaborating with your loan servicer, you can successfully stop your student loans to relieve financial burden during difficult times.

Types of Loans you can Pause as a Student

As a student, you might have different types of loans, and whether you can pause payments, depends on the kind of loan you have. Here are the common types of student loans that might let you pause payments:

Federal Direct Subsidized Loans

These loans are for undergraduate students with financial need. Sometimes, like when you’re at least half-time in school, during a grace period, or in deferment, the government covers the interest on these loans.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans

These loans are for both undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of financial need. Interest starts adding up as soon as the loan is given until it’s fully paid. You might be able to pause payments on these loans through deferment or forbearance.

Federal Direct PLUS Loans

Graduate students or parents of dependent undergrads can get these loans. They let you borrow up to the cost of attendance, minus any other aid you receive. Like Direct Unsubsidized Loans, you might be able to pause payments on PLUS loans.

Perkins Loans

These low-interest federal loans are for students with significant financial need. Whether you can pause payments on Perkins Loans might change based on the loan terms and the rules of the school that gave you the loan.

Private Student Loans

These loans come from private lenders like banks or online lenders. They usually have fewer flexible repayment options compared to federal loans. Some private lenders might offer deferment or forbearance options, but it varies a lot between lenders.

State-Sponsored Loans

Some states have their student loan programs for residents going to in-state schools. Whether you can pause payments on state-sponsored loans depends on the loan terms and the policies of the state agency or lender.

Remember, it’s crucial to talk to your loan servicer or lender about your specific loan and ask about deferment or forbearance options. They can tell you about eligibility requirements, how to apply, and any effects it might have on your loan terms or payment schedule.

When to Pause a Student Loan

Deciding when to pause your student loan payments depends on your financial situation. Here are some times when it might be a good idea to pause a loan:

Financial Challenges

If you’re struggling financially due to job loss, reduced income, or unexpected expenses, pausing your payments can give you temporary relief. This can help you cover essential expenses until things improve.

Health Issues or Disability

If you’re dealing with health issues or a disability that prevents you from working, you might qualify to temporarily stop your payments. This can ease your financial stress while you focus on your health.

Returning to School

Planning to go back to school at least half-time? You could qualify for an in-school deferment, letting you postpone payments while studying. It can ease the burden of tuition and other school costs.

Military Service

If you’re called to active-duty military service, you could get a break on your payments during your service period. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers protections and benefits, including options for student loan relief.

Before you pause your payments, understand the terms of deferment or forbearance. Know how interest accrues during the pause and how it might affect your loan balance and repayment schedule.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can I pause my student loans?

The amount of time you can delay your student loans depends on your circumstances and the sort of deferment or forbearance you are eligible for. Some pauses may be permitted for only a few months, while others may last longer. Your loan servicer or lender will let you know how long the halt will last and whether there are any extensions available.

What are the effects of pausing my student loans?

While pausing your student loans may bring temporary comfort, it is important to examine the potential ramifications. Pausing your loans could extend your payback period, raise the total amount you owe owing to accrued interest, and affect your credit score if not handled properly. It is important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages before making decisions.

Can I still pay during the pause period?

Yes, you can continue to make student loan payments throughout the pause period if you can. Making payments, even if they are reduced or interest-only, can help to reduce the impact of accrued interest and shorten the overall payback term once the pause period is over.

Where can I learn more about student loan pause options?

For additional information about student loan pause alternatives, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website or contact your loan servicer directly. They can advise you on available options, eligibility requirements, application procedures, and any other questions you may have about pausing your student loans.


Student loan pause helps borrowers in tough financial times by letting them take a break from payments. Whether it’s due to job loss, health problems, going back to school, or other reasons, pausing payments can give much-needed financial breathing room.

But it’s important to think carefully about pausing loans because it can affect loan terms and interest. By staying informed, talking with loan servicers, and looking at different options, borrowers can handle loan pauses confidently, ensuring financial stability as they work toward their goals.

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