Don't ignore problems with your student loans. If you are having trouble making your payments, contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss your options. Not making your student loan payments can have serious consequences, hindering your chances to obtain future student loans and negatively impacting your credit. When faced with financial hardship, several options are available to help ease the burden of your student loan payments. A deferment is one option. A deferment suspends student loan payments for a specific period of time under certain circumstances. While you do have to qualify for a deferment, being married does not affect your ability to qualify.
Student Loan Deferment
A number of conditions can qualify you for deferment of your student loans. During deferment, you will not have to make your loan payments. Additionally, some loans, such as subsidized or Perkins loans, do not accrue interest. If you are having difficulty finding employment, are experiencing economic hardship or have returned to school, you may be eligible for deferment. In order to be granted a deferment, you must apply for it with the servicer of your student loan. Keep in mind that it can take some time to process, during which you should continue making your payments to avoid becoming delinquent.
Types of Deferment
You can qualify for a deferment of your student loans for different reasons. You can automatically qualify for deferment if you are enrolled at a post-secondary school for at least half-time. You may also qualify when you are on active duty in the military. Serving in the Peace Corps or the AmeriCorps can also qualify you for a deferment. Borrowers who are unable to find full-time employment can qualify. If none of these applies, you may still qualify for a deferment for economic hardship based on your family's financial situation.
How Does Marriage Affect Your Student Loans?
While there is no deferment for being married, being married does not affect your ability to qualify for a deferment. It can, however, impact your income. If you are hoping to qualify for a deferment based on economic hardship, your household income will be used to make a determination. However, your ability to make payments is calculated based on your family size and income. Generally, if your income is below 150 percent of the poverty guideline for your family size, you can qualify for a deferment due to economic hardship for a maximum of three years.
Alternatives to Deferment
If you do not qualify for deferment, there may be other options to help you manage your student loans. You may qualify for forbearance, for student loan forgiveness or for a partial hardship repayment plan. During forbearance, you do not have to make your loan payments, although they continue to accrue interest. Depending on the type of loan you have, if you work in public service you may qualify for loan forgiveness. Ask your lender if you qualify based on your occupation or employer. Additionally, see if you qualify for the income-based repayment plan. This plan reduces your monthly payment to one based on your disposable income. This payment plan has been adjusted to make it fair for married couples to qualify for the program.
- U.S. Department of Education: Summary of Loan Deferment Conditions for Stafford and Perkins Loans Borrowers
- U.S. Department of Education: Your Federal Student Loans
- Student Aid on the Web: Repayment Plans and Calculators
- Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance: Student Financial Aid Options in Challenging Economic Times
- U.S. Department of Education: Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- U.S. Department of Education: Postponing Repayment
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.