Loan Payment and Deferment

As a federal loan borrower you have certain rights and responsibilities associated with repaying your federal loans. It is your responsibility to repay your loans even if you do not complete your academic program, are dissatisfied with the education you received, or are unable to find employment after graduation.

Before you leave school, drop below half-time enrollment, or withdraw from all your courses in a term, you are required to complete exit counseling for each loan program from which you borrowed. Guidelines are outlined on this page.

Repayment of Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

Repayment of Federal Direct Loans is not required while you are in school at least half time. Each of your Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans has a six-month grace period that starts the day after you stop attending school or drop below half-time enrollment. During this grace period, you are not required to make payments, but you may choose to do so.

Your first payment is due within 60 days after the day your six-month grace period ends. The direct loan servicer will notify you of your first payment due date during your grace period. If you do not receive this information, it is your responsibility to contact the Direct Loan Servicer.

Federal Direct Loan repayment plans

You may choose one of the following repayment plans to repay your loan. If you do not choose a repayment plan, you will automatically be placed on the standard repayment plan. You may be able to change repayment plans after you begin repaying your loan. For more information about these plans and to calculate your estimated monthly payments under each plan, visit the Federal Student Aid’s guide to repaying loans.

  • Standard Repayment Plan:You will make fixed monthly payments over a period of 10 years. Your minimum payment will be $50 per month or more depending on how much you have borrowed.
  • Graduated Repayment Plan: Your payments will start lower and gradually increase, usually every two years, over a 10-year period.
  • Extended Fixed Repayment or Extended Graduated Repayment Plan: You will make fixed or graduated monthly payments and repay your loan in full over time, not to exceed 25 years.
  • Income-Based Repayment Plan: Your required monthly payment will be based on your income during any period when you have partial financial hardship. Your monthly payment may be adjusted annually.

Federal Direct Loan deferment and forbearance

If you are having trouble making payments, contact the Direct Loan Servicing Center (800) 848-0979 immediately to discuss whether you are eligible for a deferment or forbearance.

Deferment temporarily suspends your loan payments and may be authorized if you are:

  • Enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school (in-school deferment)
  • Studying full-time in a graduate fellowship program or an approved disability rehabilitation program
  • Unemployed or experiencing economic hardship (includes Peace Corps service)
  • Serving on active duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency (available only for Direct Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2001)
  • Performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency (available only for Direct Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2001)

Forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan, temporarily make smaller payments, or extend the time for making payments. Common reasons to apply for forbearance are:

  • Illness
  • Economic hardship
  • Serving in a medical or dental internship or residency

Federal Direct Loan forgiveness program for teachers

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program grants loan forgiveness of up to $17,500 for teachers in certain specialties, and up to $5,000 for other teachers who teach for five years in low-income schools and meet other requirements. For eligibility requirements, see the Federal Student Aid information on teacher loan forgiveness.

Federal Direct Loan forgiveness for public service employees

The Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees Program provides for the cancellation of the remaining balance due on eligible federal student loans under certain circumstances. Loans may be eligible after the borrower has made 120 monthly payments on or after October 1, 2007, under certain repayment plans under the Direct Loan Program while employed in certain public service fields. Eligible public service jobs are full-time jobs in fields including government, military service, law enforcement, social work, and public child care. Download a full list of qualifying public service jobs and eligibility requirements.

Repayment of Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans

The borrower has the option of beginning repayment on a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed or six months after the dependent student on whose behalf the parent borrowed the loan ceases to be enrolled at least half time. The direct loan servicer will notify the borrower of the first payment due date. If the borrower does not receive this information, it is the borrower’s responsibility to contact the Direct Loan Servicer.

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan repayment plans

The borrower of a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan has nearly all the repayment plan options that Direct Stafford Loan borrowers have. However, the Direct Loan Income Contingent and Income-Based Repayment Plans are not options for Direct Parent PLUS Loan borrowers. See Federal Loans for more information on repayment plans. Generally, the conditions for eligibility and procedures for requesting a deferment or forbearance apply to both Stafford Loans and PLUS Loans. Since PLUS Loans are unsubsidized, interest is charged during periods of deferment and forbearance.

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan deferment and forbearance

If the borrower of a PLUS Loan is having trouble making payments, he or she should immediately contact the Direct Loan Servicing Center at (800) 848-0979 to discuss eligibility for a deferment or forbearance. Refer to Federal Loans for more information on conditions of eligibility.

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan forgiveness

For information about loan forgiveness, which may be possible under certain conditions, the borrower should contact the Direct Loan Servicer.

Repayment of Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans

You have the option of beginning repayment on a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan sixty days after the loan is fully disbursed or 6 months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time. The direct loan servicer will notify you of the first payment due date. If you do not receive this information, it is your responsibility to contact the Direct Loan Servicer

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan repayment plans

As a borrower of a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you have nearly all the repayment plan options that Direct Stafford Loan borrowers have. The exception is that the Direct Loan Income Contingent Repayment Plan is not an option for Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan borrowers. See Federal Loans for more information on these plans.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan deferment and forbearance

If you are having trouble making payments on your Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you should immediately contact the Direct Loan Servicing Center at (800) 848-0979 to discuss eligibility for a deferment or forbearance. Refer to Federal Loans for more information on conditions of eligibility.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan forgiveness

For information about loan forgiveness, which may be possible under certain conditions, you should contact the Direct Loan Servicer.

Repayment of Federal Perkins Loans

Repayment of Federal Perkins Loans is not required while you are in school at least half time. Your Federal Perkins Loan has a 9-month grace period that starts the day after you stop attending school or you drop below half time enrollment. During this grace period, you are not required to make payments, but you may choose to do so.

Federal Perkins Loan payments are due to the Harvard University Student Loan Office on the first day of every month following the expiration of your grace period. Harvard University Student Loan Office will notify you of your first payment due date during your grace period. If you do not receive this information, it is your responsibility to contact the Harvard University Student Loan Office online or as follows:

Harvard University Student Loan Office
Smith Campus Center, Suite 953
1350 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: (800) 315-7192 or (617)495-3782

The Federal Perkins Loan generally carries a minimum monthly payment between $30 and $40; your payment may be higher depending on your loan balance. The maximum repayment period is 10 years.

Federal Perkins Loan deferment and forbearance

As a Federal Perkins Loan borrower, you may be entitled to certain deferment options. Deferments may be authorized if you:

  • Are enrolled at least half time in an eligible school
  • Are enrolled full time in a graduate fellowship program
  • Are enrolled in an approved rehabilitation training program for disabled individuals
  • Are seeking and unable to find full time employment (up to three years)
  • Are experiencing economic hardship as determined by the lender (up to three years)
  • Are serving on active duty or performing qualifying National Guard duty in connection with war, military operations, or national emergency

If you are having trouble making payments, or to apply for a deferment of forbearance, immediately contact the Harvard University Student Loan Office online.

Federal Perkins Loan cancellation

Federal Perkins Loan cancellation is available for a variety of public service jobs including teaching, military, and nursing. See the Harvard University Student Loan Office website for a list of qualifying occupations.