Should I put off paying back my student loans through deferment or forbearance while I serve in the military, volunteer in the Peace Corps, or participate in a national service program?
You probably should not put off repaying your student loans while you are in the military, the Peace Corps, or a national service program. You may have other options.
If you’re short on cash, you may look for a deferment or forbearance as a short-term fix, but it could make paying back your loans more expensive. Before accepting a deferment or forbearance, consider a few things:
- Most borrowers should say no to deferment and forbearance. When you put off making payments, interest may keep
adding up depending on the type of loan you have. This means that after you complete your service, your
student loan balance will be bigger. You may also miss the chance to count your
service toward loan forgiveness.
- Service in the military, Peace Corps, and
AmeriCorps is "public service." If you have
qualifying loans, every month that you
serve while enrolled in an income-driven payment plan counts toward Public Service Loan
(PSLF). Under this program, if you
make 120 qualifying monthly payments while working for an eligible public
service organization, you can have any remaining balance forgiven on your
- Income-driven repayment plans are the best
bet for most borrowers. If you have federal Direct Loans, an plan, like Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), or Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), is the best
plan for most people working in public service. Your monthly payment may be as
low as $0 per month, but you’ll make progress toward loan forgiveness each
month that you’re enrolled.
- You may qualify for other benefits, too. For example, servicemembers might be able to lower
their interest rate under the Servicemembers Civil
Relief Act (SCRA). If you are a Peace
Corps volunteer or servicemember with a Perkins loan, you
might be able to have your loan canceled. Check your eligibility for these
benefits before consolidating your loans – otherwise, you could lose your
eligibility for these benefits. Contact your student loan servicer to learn
more about benefits for borrowers engaged in public service.