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Consolidation and Payment Assistance

A variety of options may help you manage or meet your monthly loan obligations.

This section covers common means of managing your payments:

In addition to these solutions, you may be able to work with a loan services representative to restructure your loan payment. Contact your loan services representative to learn about these and other payment options.

Deferment is the option of postponing loan repayment. It is available only for Federal loans, and granted only if the borrower provides the required certification that the specified conditions are met.

Deferment provisions vary. Some loans offer deferments for continuing students, for borrowers who are unemployed and seeking employment, or for demonstrated economic hardship.

Depending on your individual loan, interest may or may not accrue during deferment and there may or may not be a grace period following deferment. See your individual promissory notes for details.

Forbearance is the temporary cessation of payments or reduced payments for a certain period of time to relieve a borrower's financial hardship during loan repayment. Ordinarily, the length of time that you request for forbearance, other than for medical residency forbearances, cannot exceed six months at a time.

Forbearance provisions vary. Some loans offer forbearance during periods of financial hardship or during medical residency. Other forbearances may be available for certain loans.

You can make two types of forbearance requests through Northwestern:
  • Medical Forbearance Request: If you graduated from the Northwestern University medical school and are in a medical residency program or a fellowship program required for training, and you are having difficulties making your loan payments, complete the Medical Forbearance Request form.
  • Financial Forbearance Request: If you are experiencing financial difficulties and need to request forbearance from your loan payments for a short period of time, download and complete the Forbearance Request form.
Interest on the loan continues to accrue during a period of forbearance and all unpaid interest is capitalized at the end of the forbearance period. At the end of your forbearance, your payment schedule will be adjusted accordingly to repay the loan within the original term. Monthly loan payments will be higher following the forbearance. See your individual promissory notes for details.

Loan cancellation is the removal of the obligation for the borrower to pay a portion or all of the loan's unpaid balance and accrued interest. Cancellation is available only if specified conditions of the particular loan are met, and the required certification is provided. Some cancellations include deferment of interest or a postponement of payments. In some cases, 100% of the principal can be cancelled over several years.

Only certain loans have cancellation provisions. Some loans offer cancellations for service in certain fields or geographical areas or to underserved populations. See your individual promissory notes for details.

Federal loan consolidation is a debt-management tool that allows you to combine all of your eligible Federal education loans (not any private loans) into a new loan with a single payment. This will lengthen the payback period up to 30 years and reduce your monthly payment. Ordinarily, you would consolidate your Federal loans after your graduation or separation date during the post-school grace period, during repayment, or during a period of deferment or forbearance.

Consolidation should be considered carefully. You may give up some valuable features or benefits of your student loans by consolidating, such as Perkins Loan deferment or cancellation provisions. There are many different loan consolidation programs and they are not all alike. Examine your alternatives before committing to particular lenders or agencies. Northwestern University does not offer a consolidation product.

For more information about Federal Loan Consolidation, see the Student Loan FAQs.