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The first thing to do is to contact your Direct Loan Servicer. They will discuss with you the various options that may make it easier for you to manage your monthly payment schedule. You may be able to have your monthly payments lowered by changing to a different payment plan.
Under some circumstances, such as returning to school, becoming unemployed, or suffering economic hardship, you may qualify for a deferment. If granted a deferment, you will be able to suspend regular loan payments for a certain time. Check the Student Loan Deferment and Cancellation Summaries page for more information on deferment conditions.
Being granted a deferment is not automatic. You must submit your request for a deferment in writing and continue to make your regular loan payments until the deferment is granted. You may view the approved conditions for obtaining a deferment and learn the procedure for applying for a deferment from your Direct Loan Servicer.
If you don't qualify for a deferment, you may be able to request a forbearance. If granted forbearance, you may be permitted to reduce or delay your regular payments for a time.
Being granted forbearance is not automatic. You must submit your request for forbearance in writing and continue to make your regular loan payments until forbearance is granted. If your loan debt burden equals or exceeds 20% of your gross income, you have a right to forbearance, renewable annually for up to three years. You may view the approved conditions for obtaining forbearance and learn the procedure for applying for forbearance from your Direct Loan Servicer.
Finally, if you have a number of educational loans and have difficulty making payments on all of them, you may qualify for a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan. Loan consolidation allows you to combine multiple loan debts into just one monthly payment and can help lower your monthly repayment amount by extending the repayment period.