The Difference Between Loan Deferment and Forbearance

Some people use the two terms interchangeably, but that can lead to misconceptions because the two aren’t actually the same.

Multiple arrows drawn on a blackboard.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


To boil it down and really simplify it: deferment is delaying the repayment of a loan until after the student borrower graduates. While in school, they can focus on their studies. Students do not worry about juggling a job and finances while working hard for their education. Many students (if not most) choose to defer their student loans. After their post-graduate grace period is up, start making payments once they’ve found a job.

There are, of course, differences in the logistics from loan to loan. Each is different, and so each has different rules or requirements in order for a student to defer. Ask your provider about the conditions of your own loan, and the possibility of deferment. Students should always seek deferment first before forbearance.

During deferment, the student’s credit score is protected, and the federal government will help pay the interest that builds on the loan.


The major difference between deferment and forbearance is the role of the government. In the latter option, the federal government will not help pay the interest that accrues with a loan. It is not an entitlement. Forbearance, therefore, is typically pursued by students who—for whatever reason—do not qualify for deferment.

Again, speak with your loan provider and ask them what the conditions of your loan are, and what your options are. Each loan and borrower have different circumstances, so it is always important to clarify.

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!


Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join thousands of students and parents learning about finding the right college, admissions secrets, scholarships, financial aid, and more.