Are you returning to school and concerned because you can't make your student loan payments while living on a student budget? Have you been searching for a job, but still find yourself unemployed? Is your current salary just not enough to cover your monthly bills, as well as your student loans? Help is available! But before going into specifics regarding deferment, let’s clarify some of the differences between Stafford, Direct and Perkins Loans.
Direct Loans and Stafford Loans are non-campus-based Federal Title IV loan programs. With Stafford Loans, a bank or credit union is the lender. With Direct Loans, the Department of Education is the lender, hence the name Direct Loan. Communications and transactions regarding these two types of loans are between you and your lender.
Perkins Loans are campus-based even though it is also a Federal Title IV loan program. Communication and transactions regarding this loan type are between you and UCLA’s billing servicer, ECSI. You can contact ECSI by phone at (888) 549–3274 or access their website at https://heartland.ecsi.net/ to check status, make payment or download deferment and forbearance forms. You are also welcome to contact the Debt Management unit of FELSS at (310) 794–2812.
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Filing a Student Deferment
If you are enrolled in school at least half-time, you qualify for a student deferment. Most federal student loan lenders whether campus-based (Perkins Loans) or non-campus based (Direct and Stafford Loans) are able to access and retrieve your enrollment information electronically through the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC). If you have passed your add/drop period, the information about your enrollment at most schools is sent electronically by the school’s registrar to the NSC. (Please be aware that interest does accrue on unsubsidized loans during deferment.)
For your UCLA Perkins Loan, the billing servicer ECSI can access your enrollment information electronically if the school you are attending has reported your enrollment to the NSC. However, if the school or program in which you are enrolled that does not report enrollment to the NSC, you will need to personally file the student deferment. To do so, perform the following steps:
STEP 1: Contact ECSI or the UCLA Debt Management Services unit to request a Student Deferment Form if you are attempting to defer a loan that you obtained from UCLA. (If you are trying to defer a loan that was NOT obtained from UCLA, you should contact the loan office of the institution where you received the loan.)
STEP 2: Present the deferment form to the Registrar's Office of the school you are currently attending in order to obtain enrollment verification. Schools begin verifying enrollment at different times, so contact your school's Office of the Registrar after classes start to find out when verification will begin.
STEP 3: Return the deferment form to the institution from which you are requesting deferment. (Some Registrars Offices will submit the form for you.)
STEP 4: Check with your lender within a month to confirm deferment status.
Filing an Unemployment Deferment
For Direct, Stafford or Perkins Loans, an unemployment deferment is available with documented proof that you are not working or working less than 30 hours weekly. (Please be aware that interest does accrue on unsubsidized loans during deferment.)
STEP 1: Contact the holder of your loan and request an Unemployment Deferment Form. (Remember: Stafford and Direct Loans are non-campus-based. Your Stafford Loan lender would be a bank or credit union; your Direct Loan lender is the federal government. Perkins Loans are campus-based. For Perkins Loans, contact the school where you obtained the loan.)
STEP 2: Complete and return the form along with any requested documentation.
STEP 3: Give your lender at least two weeks to process the deferment; and then, follow up by checking on the status of your account.
Filing an Economic Hardship Deferment
You may find yourself fully employed yet unable to make ends meet due to your economic circumstances. If you find yourself in this position, you may qualify for an economic hardship deferment. Like the unemployment deferment, economic hardship deferment is available on Stafford, Direct and Perkins Loans. To file for economic hardship deferment you would follow the same steps as Filing an Unemployment Deferment (see STEPS 1 thru 3 in the previous section). (Again, please be aware that interest does accrue on unsubsidized loans during deferment.)
What is a forbearance?
Many people find they are not eligible for any form of deferment, but still have trouble on occasion making payment. If you are in this situation, you may request forbearance. Technically, a forbearance is not a deferment; it is a category all its own. Forbearance means a temporary cessation of payment due to the inability to pay. It is based on an individual’s current financial hardship, and is granted at the discretion of the lender. To request forbearance, simply contact your loan holder. Explain your circumstances; and then, provide your lender with any requested documentation.
During a period of forbearance, interest continues to accrue on the loan. Also, be aware that following the expiration of your forbearance, you are responsible for paying the accumulated interest. Please note that the Stafford and Direct Loans unpaid interest can be capitalized by your lender, turning the unpaid interest into new principal, upon which you will be charged interest.
Are there any other types of deferment?
For Perkins, Stafford and Direct Loan Programs, depending on the note date of your loan, you may be eligible for another sort of deferment. These deferments may be awarded for: studying in a graduate fellowship program, serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program, serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, working in a field eligible for employment cancellation benefits, receiving full-time rehabilitation training for disabled individuals, or becoming temporarily disabled. To see if you qualify for any of these deferments, please contact your loan holder.
(UCLA attempts to provide up-to-date information in our Bruin Dollars and $ense How To Series. Please be aware that the content of this document is based upon information that was correct at the time of publication. All information pertaining to and gathered from both UCLA and other sources is subject to change without notice.)