Like other federal student loans, Perkins loans allow you to take a break from your loan payments. But unlike other federal loans, Perkins loans come with additional postponement options (as well as extra forgiveness options)—which makes repaying them even more flexible.
In addition, during these approved postponements (also known as "deferments"), the federal government may pay the interest adding up on your Perkins loans. Here are some ways you may qualify for these benefits.
Types Of Deferments
Perkins loans offer a wide variety of deferments, and when you borrowed your loans affects your eligibility for many of them.
You may receive a Perkins loan deferment for the following reasons:
This deferment postpones your payments for as long as you are enrolled at least half time in a degree-granting program at an eligible school, including if you are between semesters.
Rehabilitation Training Program
This deferment postpones your payments while you are participating or are scheduled to participate in a U.S. Department of Education-approved program of rehabilitation for disabled individuals by a licensed agency.
Graduate Fellowship Program
This deferment postpones your payment while you are in a full-time graduate fellowship program. An eligible program would have to:
- Provide enough financial support for you to study full time for at least 6 months.
- Require a written statement from you explaining your objectives before awarding the financial support.
- Require you to submit periodic projects, reports, or evidence of your progress.
This deferment is for up to 3 years while you are looking for, but cannot find, full-time employment.
This deferment is for up to 1 year at a time for up to 3 years while you are experiencing one of the following:
- You are working full time (at least 30 hours per week for at least 3 consecutive months) and earning a total monthly gross income that doesn't exceed the monthly earnings of someone making minimum wage or 150% of the poverty guideline for your state and family size
- You are receiving federal or state public assistance benefits.
- You have been granted an economic hardship deferment in the Direct Loan or Federal Family Education Loan Programs for the same period of time.
This deferment is for borrowers who are serving as volunteers in the Peace Corps for up to 3 years.
You may also defer your payments for up to 3 years if your Perkins loan was disbursed before July 1, 1993, and you are volunteering for at least a year with any of the following:
- The Peace Corps
- A program under the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (ACTION programs)
- Volunteering full time and performing comparable services to a Peace Corps or AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer
This deferment postpones your payments while you are:
- Serving on active duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency.
- Performing qualified National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency.
Your deferment will be from the time that your eligible military service began until the time it ends. If your service includes October 1, 2007, or begins on or after that date, your deferment will last until 180 days after your demobilization date.
If you borrowed your Perkins loan before July 1, 1993, then you may receive a military deferment for up to 3 years if you are a member of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard.
This deferment postpones your Perkins loan payments for up to 13 months after you are demobilized from active duty if you meet the following two conditions:
- You are a member of the National Guard or other Armed Forces reserves or a member in retired status.
- You were enrolled at least half time at an eligible higher education institution at the time or within 6 months of being called to active duty.
Temporary Total Disability
This deferment postpones your payments while you are temporarily totally disabled (certified by a doctor) or you cannot work because you have a dependent who is disabled. This deferment is for loans disbursed before July 1, 1993, and lasts for up to 3 years.
This deferment postpones your payments for up to 6 months while you are pregnant, caring for a newborn, or caring for a newly adopted child. You can't be enrolled in college or be gainfully employed to take advantage of this deferment, but you would have needed to be enrolled at least half time within the last 6 months before taking this deferment. This deferment is only available for loans disbursed before July 1, 1993.
Mother Of A Preschooler Returning To Work
This deferment postpones your payments for up to 1 year if you are a mother of a preschooler, have just re/entered the work force, and are earning no more than one dollar over minimum wage. This deferment is only available for loans disbursed before July 1, 1993.
Internship Or Residency Program
For loans disbursed before July 1, 1993, you may receive a postponement of up to 2 years if you are in an eligible internship or residency program.
For borrowers as of July 1, 1993, you may postpone your payments while you are participating in a dental residency program.
Public Health Service Or National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration Corps
This deferment postpones your payments for up to 3 years if your Perkins loan was disbursed before July 1, 1993, and you are a member of the U.S. Public Health Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Corps.
You may have your Perkins loan payments postponed while you are providing eligible services for a Perkins loan cancellation.
How To Apply
Contact your school or your servicer to find out how to apply for these deferments. Many schools service their Perkins loans themselves, but others outsource that job to servicers.
Check with your school's financial aid office or go to the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS®) to find out more.