What is student loan deferment?

If you’re wondering how to balance paying your undergraduate loans with returning to college, attending graduate school, or taking on an internship or residency, a deferment may help.

Deferring payments lets you reduce or postpone your payments. When you request a deferment of a Sallie Mae undergraduate student loan, you won’t have to make principal and interest payments while you’re in school or during your internship or residency.

During deferment, your Sallie Mae loans will return to the repayment option you initially chose (i.e., interest, fixed, or deferred). That means if you were making either monthly interest-only or fixed payments when you originally took out your loan, you’ll continue to make those throughout your deferment period.

When you defer, interest will continue to accrue (grow) while you’re in school, which will increase your Total Loan Cost. Any extra interest payments you can make while you’re in deferment can help lower the Total Loan Cost.


Deferring your loans while returning to college or going to graduate school

Deferring your loans while you’re in school can help you lower your payments when your income may be limited. However, you may end up paying more for the loan overall.

Benefits

  • Your payments will be smaller than they would be if you were paying full principal and interest.
  • You can receive a deferment for up to 48 months.

Considerations

  • Your interest will continue to accrue (grow) while your loans are deferred. Unpaid Interest will capitalize (be added to your loan’s Current Principal) at the end of a deferment. This can increase your Total Loan Cost.

How to request a deferment for college or graduate school

You can request a deferment for a Smart Option Student Loan® or a Sallie Mae graduate student loan if you’re enrolled full-time or half-time.

Your school will need to verify that you’re enrolled at least half-time. If your school is listed at studentclearinghouse.org, they’ll verify it electronically. Otherwise, you’ll need to request the deferment period yourself by submitting this In-School Deferment Request Form to us.

  • Continue to make your payments until we let you know if your deferment request has been approved.
  • You can ask to have the deferment period removed at any time if you want to return to making principal and interest payments.

Deferring your loans for an internship, residency, or fellowship

You can also request a deferment if you’re accepted into an approved internship, residency, or fellowship program.

  • The program must require you to have a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite for acceptance into the program; or
  • It’s a supervised training program that
    • leads to a degree or certificate; or
    • is required for you to be certified for a professional practice or service.

How an internship, residency, or fellowship deferment works

With an internship, residency, or fellowship deferment, you won’t have to make principal and interest payments while you’re in your internship, residency, or fellowship program. However, interest will continue to accrue (grow), which will increase your Total Loan Cost. Any extra interest payments you can make during this period can help lower the Total Loan Cost.

After your request is approved, your student loan(s) will return to the repayment option you initially chose (i.e., interest, fixed, or deferred). That means that if you were paying either interest-only or a fixed payment when you were in school, you’ll continue to make those payments throughout the deferment.

How to apply for an internship, residency, or fellowship deferment

You can apply for this type of deferment in increments of 12 months, up to a maximum of 60 months for Smart Option Student Loans and graduate loans.

  • To request a deferment, submit an Internship, Residency, and Fellowship Deferment Form completed by you and an official from your residency/internship program.
  • Continue to make your payments until we let you know if your deferment request has been approved.
  • Re-request a deferment of your student loans every 12 months.
  • You can ask to have the deferment removed at any time if you want to return to making principal and interest payments.

If you have another type of Sallie Mae loan, refer to your promissory note or call us to see if these deferments are available.

If at any time during the repayment period you enter an approved residency or internship program, you may contact us to request the Residency/Internship Deferment. To apply for the Residency/Internship Deferment, you must submit a form completed by you and an official from the residency or internship program to us for consideration. If you receive the Deferment, the Current Amount Due you will be required to pay each month during the deferment period will reflect the same repayment option that applied to your loan during the in-school period. Deferment periods are issued in up to 12-month increments. You can receive a maximum of five 12-month deferment periods (60-month maximum). Interest is charged during the deferment period and Unpaid Interest may be added to the Current Principal at the end of each deferment period, which will increase the Total Loan Cost.