If you’re struggling to pay your student loans, it’s tempting to pause them altogether. Deferring student loan payments is one way to stop the bills, but it might not be your best option.
Even if you qualify for student loan deferment, you could be better off with another approach. Otherwise, the debt you have today could grow into an even bigger burden tomorrow.
If your reasons for deferring student loan payments match any of the three below, reconsider whether deferment is the best step to take:
1. You don’t feel like paying your student loans yet
Your first student loan bill after graduation can be a rude awakening. You’ve only just left school, and now you’re expected to pay off your debt every single month. As a new grad, you can probably think of lots of other, more fun and interesting ways to use your money. However, it’s important to understand that deferring student loans might put an even bigger financial burden on “Future You”.
That’s because unless you have subsidized federal loans, interest will continue to accrue on your federal student debt. Once deferment ends, you could end up owing substantially more than when you started. You can calculate how deferring student loans affects your monthly payments using our deferment calculator.
Karla Garcia, a student loan borrower and owner of Sweets by Karla, learned this lesson the hard way. “I deferred my student loans for about four years and it was a big mistake,” she said. “My loans accrued a lot [of] high interest. They went from about $35,000 to $55,000.”
Because she chose to defer student loans, Garcia’s debt grew by a whopping 57%.
Deferring student loans might be the right choice if you’re really struggling to make ends meet. But if you can make payments — even if it means making sacrifices in other areas — you’ll be in better financial shape in the long run.
Being financially responsible isn’t always fun, but it’s the best decision you can make after you graduate.
2. You haven’t explored all your repayment options
If your income is low and you have federal student loans, rather than trying to defer payments, explore your options for income-driven repayment (IDR). This is an umbrella term that refers to federal student loan repayment options like Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR). While there are differences between these two plans, both can extend your loan terms to 20 or 25 years. Plus, they cap your monthly bills at 10 to 20 percent of your discretionary income.
IDR offers another important advantage: If you still have a balance on your loan after your repayment term is up, that balance will be forgiven.
Note that IDR plans only apply to federal student loans. If you have private student loans, speak with your loan servicer to see if you’re eligible for a more flexible repayment plan. Either way, learn about all the options that may be available to you before committing to deferment.
James Pollard, the founder of The Advisor Coach website, wishes he started paying his student loans sooner:
“When I was in college, I deferred my student loans,” he said. “Looking back, I wouldn’t have waited…It was a mistake to defer the student loans because they’re still there — I wish I would’ve taken whatever I had and started to chip away at them.”
Rather than deferring student loans, consider whether you can repay your debt a little at a time under a new repayment plan.
3. You’re letting frustration get the better of you
For many borrowers, the thought of student loans is often accompanied by complicated emotions. Some borrowers feel they were tricked into taking on a lot of debt as teenagers. Others feel resentment after dealing with sketchy loan servicers that gave them harmful misinformation. A previous Student Loan Hero article actually discussed the difficulties borrowers faced as a result of the information they received from their loan servicers.
Luckily, there are ways for borrowers to protect themselves and avoid making a decision that isn’t in their best interests. It’s also important to remember that even if you meet the eligibility requirements for a student loan deferment, the choice you ultimately make shouldn’t come from frustration.
“I put my student loans in deferment three times,” said Yolanda Rambert-Marshall, who owed $25,000 in student loans. “If I had to do it all over again, I would [have] asked for a reduction in the price I was paying each month instead of putting it in deferment. You come out better in the long run by continuing to pay your loan.”
Even if you’ve dealt with unfair loan servicing practices, your best option is to pay off your student loans as fast as possible. It’s likely those student loans won’t go away until your balance hits zero.
Good reasons to defer student loans
Deferring student loans can be a smart financial choice in certain situations. If any of the following scenarios apply to you, it might actually make sense to defer:
- You’re hovering near default. If you’re about to go into default, deferring student loans could give you the relief you need. Once you’ve paused your payments, you can figure out how to get back on your feet.
- Your financial hardship is short-term. Deferring student loans can help you through a rough patch, like a medical issue that leaves you unable to work for a few months. As long as you don’t defer student loans for a long time, you shouldn’t rack up too much interest.
- You’ve been called into active duty military service. As an active duty service member, you can have your student loan payments deferred without paying interest. Military service might also qualify you for loan repayment assistance in the future, to relieve either a portion or maybe even all your debt.
Make the best decision for your finances
If your student loans are overwhelming, it’s tempting to deal with them at a later date. But you can’t predict the future or know what other expenses you’ll have down the line.
If you truly can’t make payments, deferring student loans could be a useful option. Before pausing your payments, though, make sure to learn about your options for student loan repayment.
With this knowledge, you can choose the best repayment plan for your wallet. Plus, you’ll stay on track to getting out of student loan debt as fast as possible.
Kristina Byas contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.87% – 6.15%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.85%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 6.59%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 5.25%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.86% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|2.13% – 5.25%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of June 1, 2021.
2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Interest Rate Disclosure
Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.44% APR to 5.79% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.88% APR to 5.64% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 2.04% and 5.8% to the one month LIBOR. Earnest rate ranges are current as of 6/8/2021, and are subject to change based on market conditions.
Auto Pay Discount Disclosure
You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.
Student Loan Refinancing Loan Cost Examples
These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042.39. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,249.77. Your actual repayment terms may vary.Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest. com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit earnest.com/licenses for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.
One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
© 2021 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates range from 2.49% APR to 6.94% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 6.59% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 11/15/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
7 Important Disclosures for Navient.
8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.13%-5.25% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.