Student Loans

If You Can't Repay Your Loan

Circumstances may arise that make repayments difficult. Your loan servicer is supposed to help you understand your options for keeping your loan in good standing. Options to keep your loan in good standing when you are having difficulty making the monthly payments may include:

Change Your Repayment Planexternal link icon

If your income and/or household expenses make it difficult or impossible to repay your federal student loans, you should inquire with your servicer about whether you should be in a different repayment plan. You should ask your servicer about income-driven repayment plans that are described in this Handbook and are based on your income. If you are already in an income-driven repayment plan and you had a recent drop in income or increased the size of your household, you should update your information with your servicer to allow your monthly payment to be adjusted. Private lenders have fewer options for repayment based on financial hardship, but you should ask your servicer what is available.

Forbearanceexternal link icon

If you are experiencing a short-term hardship and can’t make your scheduled loan payments, your loan servicer may be able to grant you a forbearance. A forbearance may allow you to stop making payments or reduce your monthly payment for up to 12 months. But know that while your payments may be suspended or reduced, interest will continue to accrue on your federal loans. The months in which you are on forbearance also will NOT count towards any federal student loan forgiveness programs.

Defermentexternal link icon

In certain circumstances, you may be able to postpone paying back your student loans by obtaining a deferment. For unsubsidized loans, interest will accrue during a deferment. The type of loan and date the loan was incurred will affect your deferment options, if any. You can get deferments for most federal student loans in the following circumstances:

To apply for a different repayment plan, forbearance, or deferment, contact your loan servicer. The months in which you are on deferment will NOT count towards any federal student loan forgiveness programs.

Private Loansexternal link icon

Private and non-federal loans may or may not have deferment or forbearance options, and the rules vary among lenders. Many private lenders offer deferments for certain circumstances. It is best to discuss these options with your loan servicer as early as possible. For private student loan deferment or forbearance, terms and fees can vary. Your options for deferment or forbearance of private loans may not be as borrower-friendly as the federal program options. 

If you have private loans that are unaffordable. You may wish to consider refinancing your loans into a loan that has a lower interest rate.  Some Minnesota residents may  be able to refinance their private student loans into a lower interest rate loan offered by the State of Minnesota’s “SELF Refi” program. For more  information about that program, you can contact the Minnesota Office of Higher Education or visit its website: