5 Private Student Loan Options That Let You Pause Payments

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

student loan deferment
Logo

OUR PROMISE TO YOU: Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less


Need a student loan?

Check out our top picks below or learn more about other ways to pay for college.
1.24% to 11.98% 1
VARIABLE APR

Visit Lender

1.25% to 11.15% 2
VARIABLE APR

Visit Lender

1.12% to 12.37% 3
VARIABLE APR

Visit Lender

  • Variable APR

Note that many student loan lenders and servicers are offering relief options during the coronavirus outbreak, so be sure to also check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional information.

*         *         *

Private student loan deferment or forbearance could be the temporary solution for a job loss, serious illness or another event that interrupts your repayment.

Unlike with federal student loans, however, not all private lenders allow you to push pause on your monthly payments. If that kind of flexibility is important to you, you’ll need to research lenders carefully.

Whether you’re looking for private student loans while in school or lenders offering student loan refinancing, check out these five private lenders with strong repayment protections.

1. SoFi: Unemployment protection
2. CommonBond: Two years of economic hardship forbearance
3. Laurel Road: Forbearance for maternity leave
4. Earnest: Three years of deferment
5. Discover: Deferment for borrowers new to repayment
Plus: Weigh deferment and forbearance options when shopping

1. SoFi: Unemployment protection

SoFi stands out for its Unemployment Protection Program that works as a de facto forbearance. If your SoFi student loan is in good standing when you lose your job through no fault of your own, you could pause your repayment for up to 12 months, in three-month increments. The online-only lender also provides career support services to help you get back on your feet.

SoFi also offers loan deferment or forbearance for borrowers who are:

  • Returning to graduate school at least half-time
  • Undergoing rehabilitation for a disability
  • Experiencing an economic hardship
  • Serving on active duty in the military
  • Hit by a natural disaster

Be aware that interest continues to accrue during deferments and forbearances, meaning that your balance will have grown once you resume repayment.

2. CommonBond: Two years of economic hardship forbearance

CommonBond allows borrowers who experience economic hardship after graduating to request a forbearance. Through its CommonBridge program, the leading lender allows up to 24 months of this protection, where many of its competitors have a limit at 12 months. With that said, the forbearance would only be awarded for three months at a time and can’t span more than 12 consecutive months.

The CommonBridge program also previously helped borrowers enhance their careers through networking opportunities. Members who were between jobs were matched with consulting opportunities to earn income — but the company confirmed it no longer offered these features.

There’s also an academic deferment for borrowers who return to school. Interest continues to accrue during this deferment as well, which spans a maximum of two years.

3. Laurel Road: Forbearance for maternity leave

Graduate loan and refinancing company Laurel Road’s repayment protections are unique, in part, because they cater specifically to new moms. The company provides loan forbearance for borrowers facing financial hardship due to an involuntary job loss, having an unpaid maternity leave or other qualifying reasons. Interest accrues while loan payments are suspended.

Borrowers may be eligible to postpone payments through forbearance for one or more three-month periods. Loans can be in forbearance for up to 12 months during the life of the loan.

Also among the fine print: Depending on your situation, you might be eligible for full or partial forbearance payments. Either could be a big help if you’re looking to pause loan payments while on maternity leave.

4. Earnest: Three years of deferment

Earnest offers up to 36 months of student loan deferment if you’re attending graduate school, serving in the Peace Corps or serving on active duty in the military. Bear in mind that interest continues to accrue.

Earnest offers up to 12 months of forbearance for involuntary decreases in income or the loss of a job, as well as for parental leave or circumstances where borrowers experience significant expenses, including home repairs or medical bills.

Aside from the repayment pauses, Earnest also has a few more unique perks, including:

  • Enjoy a nine-month grace period (instead of the usual six months)
  • Skip one payment per year (if you’re current on your debt)
  • Change your payment due date (albeit one to two months in advance)

5. Discover: Deferment for borrowers new to repayment

Discover also allows its student loan borrowers to pause repayment to take a break from repayment in a variety of scenarios, including:

  • 1 year for economic hardship
  • 3 years for active military service
  • 3 years for working in a public service role
  • 5 years for working in a residency program in the medical field

But the bank beats out competitors with its generosity toward borrowers who are in the first three months of their repayment. In fact, Discover promises to pause the repayment for up to three months for these borrowers, who might still be learning the machinations of their monthly budget.

Weigh private student loan deferment and forbearance when comparing lenders

The process of applying for student loan deferment or forbearance will vary by lender.

If you’ve borrowed through Laurel Road, forbearance requests are reviewed to determine if the borrower is experiencing a qualifying economic hardship. The hardship doesn’t necessarily need to be a job loss. Laurel Road reviews requests for forbearance on a case-by-case basis and requires updated documentation proving the nature of your economic hardship.

Your lender might also follow up with you for additional information. When applying for relief via SoFi’s Unemployment Protection Program, for example, you might be asked to submit proof that you’re eligible for governmental unemployment benefits or a severance letter from your former employer. You’ll also be expected to make monthly payments on your debt until your forbearance has been awarded.

Since each lender offers its own options for private student loans with deferred payments, contact your lender directly if you can’t make your payments. Your lender can explain the process to pause payments and help you to complete and submit any necessary forms.

All lenders require some form of documentation, however, so start preparing proof of economic hardship now. This could include information about your expenses, proof of health issues or employment or service.

Finally, before applying for deferment or forbearance, use our student loan deferment calculator to consider the impact of interest continuing to accrue on your loan. While putting loans into forbearance is a much better solution than defaulting on a loan, remember that your loan will ultimately cost more if you’ve taken a break from your repayment.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

Need a student loan?

Check out our top picks below or learn more about other ways to pay for college.
Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Variable APRDegrees That QualifyMore Info
1.24% – 11.98%1 Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit College Ave

1.25% – 11.15%2 Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit SallieMae

1.12% – 12.37%3 Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit Discover

1.24% – 11.44%4 Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.77% – 11.89%5 Undergrad & Graduate

Visit SoFi

2.69% – 12.98%6 Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit Ascent

3.52% – 9.50%7 Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit CommonBond