Options available for recent grads to start deferring student loans payments
For many recent college graduates, the real transition into the grownup world is just starting.
The six-month grace period for repaying student loans is ending about now for those who graduated in the spring. But borrowers who are still struggling to find their financial footing have some options.
They’re not always ideal, but it’s more responsible than racking up penalty fees or letting loans go into default.
Borrowers can defer payments on federal loans under set circumstances, such as attending graduate school, enlisting in the military, unemployment and economic hardship.
The income cutoff for an economic hardship deferement is about $16,000 a year. Anyone on public assistance or who works in public service is also eligible.
Unemployment and economic hardship deferments are available for a total of three years each. The deferments don’t have to be used continuously.
Those who don’t qualify for one of these deferments can still apply to postpone payments if they’re dealing with health issues or other circumstances.
There are no processing fees for any of these options.
With private loans, it’s up to the lender to decide whether to let a borrower postpone payments.
Sallie Mae, the biggest issuer of private student loans, says its agents interview borrowers to assess whether it’s an appropriate solution.
In general, there’s less leniency on private loans. Sallie Mae grants postponements in one- to three-month increments, typically for no more than a total of two years.
There’s a $50 fee to postpone payments on a Sallie Mae loan.
The benefit of a deferment is that the loan remains in good standing. But the price can be steep because interest continues racking up on private and most federal loans.