Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jul 9, 2012

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The current recession has made it difficult for students to repay their student loans due to unemployment and underemployment. Fortunately most student loans lenders offer deferment options that can usually be obtained through a simple application.

A deferment is a delay of monthly payments on student loans. Most of these delays last between six months and one year. Interest continues to accrue on most deferred loans. However, some government college financing opportunities suspend their interest accrual during deferment.

To apply for a deferment, borrowers should first contact their individual lender and ask about all deferment options available. Each lender has their own specific qualifications for deciding if borrowers are in financial situations that permit deferments. These qualifications usually require that borrowers be unemployed, disabled, attending school, working internships or undergoing economic hardship.

Loans may also be deferred for disabilities. If borrowers are unable to work or must care for a disabled dependant then there is eligibility for college loan deferment. A doctor‘s letter will be required every six months. Additionally, if a condition becomes a permanent disability that causes undue financial hardship, then a borrower may qualify for a complete cancellation of his or her student loans.

Applicants expecting a child can also apply for a deferment provided they can obtain an appropriate certification, such as from a doctor or an adoption agency.

Most deferment applications are processed either online or via telephone. Applicants are usually required to include paycheck stubs, unemployment compensation statements, disability payment letters and/or certified letters from schools verifying enrollment.

After submitting an application, it may take two weeks or more before lenders approve or reject applicants.

If approved, then borrowers must be sure they understand the terms. A fee may be required for processing, and the deferment will last for a specific length of time.

Borrowers will also be required to verify their payment delay is in effect. By requesting and viewing their account information or obtaining confirmation over the phone, a borrower can rest easy knowing that their loan is officially being deferred.

It’s important to keep in mind that student loan deferments are temporary and meant to help borrowers get through rough financial times. However, certain lenders may continue giving payment suspensions to borrowers depending on individual circumstances.