deferment and forbearance

Deferment and Forbearance: Top 8 Private Student Loan Lenders That Offer Them

Federal student loans offer deferment and forbearance options to help borrowers during times of financial hardship. If you qualify, you can temporarily reduce or pause your loan payments.

But what about private loans? Can you get a deferment or forbearance on private student loans? Do they offer similar repayment protections? Here’s what you need to know.

8 lenders that offer deferment and forbearance options

Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, federal student loans have a defined set of protections and eligibility requirements.

Lenders that offer deferment and forbearance options?

  • SoFi.
  • Laurel Road.
  • CommonBond.
  • Earnest.
  • Citizens Bank.
  • Wells Fargo.
  • LendKey.
  • iHelp.

Private loan borrowers don’t have access to the same relief programs offered to federal loans, but they do come with repayment protection options.

The programs offered will vary depending on the lender. Below are top eight private student loan lenders that offer deferment and forbearance options.

1. SoFi

SoFi offers unemployment protection to borrowers who are terminated from their job without cause. However, you won’t qualify if you have a cosigner on the loan who is still employed.

The forbearance period can last a maximum of 12 months, during which you can postpone payments for three months at a time. Interest will continue to accrue during this period.

Under what circumstances can you request forbearance and deferment?

Eligible reasons vary by lender, but they typically include:

  • Unemployment.
  • Health issues.
  • In-school forbearance.
  • Internship, residency, or fellowship forbearance. 
  • Public service forbearance.
  • Extended grace (when you are already receiving forbearance).
  • Military forbearance.
  • FEMA disasters.

SoFi also offers deferment options for borrowers who:

  • Enroll in graduate school at least half-time.
  • Have a disability for which they need to undergo rehabilitation.
  • Serve as an active duty military member.

2. Laurel Road

Laurel Road allows borrowers to have a three-month deferment for up to 12 months over the life of the loan. Interest will accrue while loan payments are suspended.

3. CommonBond

CommonBond offers forbearance for new private student loans and refinanced student loans.

  • New private loans offer forbearance for up to 12 months.
  • Refinanced options offer 24 months of forbearance.
  • Forbearance is approved for three months at a time.
  • The maximum consecutive time is 12 months.
  • Interest accrues while payments are suspended.

4. Earnest

Earnest offers up to 36 months of deferment if you’re in graduate school, serving in the peace corps, or an active duty military member.

The lender also offers forbearance if you lose your job or experience a decrease in income for other reasons out of your control.

In addition, Earnest offers forbearance options for paternal leave or certain situations where a borrower has significant expenses such as medical bills, home repairs, or childcare costs.

Interest will continue to accrue while payments are suspended.

5. Citizens Bank

With a Citizens Bank loan, students can defer payments until 6 months after graduation or when they drops below half-time status.

6. Wells Fargo 

Wells Fargo offers deferment and forbearance options. Note, however, that you will lose any discounts if you enroll, such as a lower interest rate for automatic payments. This is what you need to know about Wells Fargo student loan forbearance and deferment.

The official reasons for forbearance include:

  • In-school forbearance. You don’t have to make payments for a maximum of 48 months. The unique part of this forbearance is you qualify even if you are enrolled at less than half-time status.
  • Internship, residency, or fellowship forbearance. You can qualify for up to another 36 months if you are in any of these three programs.
  • Public service forbearance. You can qualify for up to three years of forbearance when volunteering for a qualifying public service organization.
  • Extended grace. If you had a forbearance in college, you may qualify for an additional six months when the forbearance ends.
  • Military forbearance. Military forbearance is a possibility for both active duty service members or if you’re receiving loan repayment from the Department of Defense repayment program. You can get up to three years of forbearance for active duty military service or up to 90 days per Department of Defense loan repayment request.
  • FEMA disasters. If the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declares a disaster, Wells Fargo will offer varying time periods of payment breaks during recovery.

7. LendKey

Since LendKey is a marketplace lender, forbearance options will vary from on lender to the next. If you’re approved, loans can be in forbearance for a total of 18 months up to six months at a time.

You’ll want to check with individual lenders about forbearance and deferment options before making a decision.

8. iHELP

iHELP is also a lending platform that offers forbearance options for qualifying borrowers. It provides flexibility for a 24-month period, allowing you to make interest-only payments during that time.

If you’re looking to temporarily lower your monthly payments, iHELP also offers repayment plans similar to those offered by federal loans.

Final thought

Forbearance and deferment options can change, so double check with the lenders before applying for a new or refinanced private student loan.