If you are having trouble paying a student loan due to financial hardship or special life circumstances, you might qualify for a student loan deferment. The student loan deferment process is quite simple for the right individuals. During the period of deferment, subsidized loans do not accrue interest. The process of deferment can be applied to both private and federal loans, but the terms may vary greatly.

Are You Eligible for Student Loan Deferment?

The most common reasons for student loan deferment are the following:

  • Enrolled and attending school at least half-time
  • Unemployed and/or seeking employment
  • Proof of economic hardship
  • Active military duty
  • Called to service while enrolled in school
  • Serving in the Peace Corps

If one of the above scenarios describes your situation, then you have a good chance at getting a deferment. You must also not be more than 270 days late on your current payments.

How Do I Request a Student Loan Deferment?

It is very important to remember that loan deferments are not automatic. Do not stop making payments on your loan until you have been approved for a loan deferment. If you stop making payments on your loan, you might disqualify yourself for a loan deferment, face consequences and late fees, and even face loan default.

For Direct Loans and FFEL Program loans, you must contact the lender directly to request a default. For Perkins Loans, you must contact the school you were attending.

Process of Deferment for Private Student Loans

It is important to check with your lender about the deferment process as each private loan lenders vary in terms offered. Some lenders might require you to be in good standing with them or have established at least 12 months of employment before requesting a deferment.

If you are struggling to afford your private loan but are still in good standing, you might want to research private loan consolidation or refinancing first. Refinancing your student loan at a lower interest rate will lower your monthly payments.

What If I Don’t Qualify for Loan Deferment?   

If you do not qualify for loan deferment, your lender might still be able to grant you forbearance. Forbearance allows you to stop or reduce your monthly payments for 12 months. During this duration, interest will continue to accrue on both subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

There are two types of forbearance, discretionary and mandatory. Discretionary forbearance is granted by the lender in cases of financial hardship or illness on a case-by-case basis. Mandatory forbearance is when the lender is required to give your forbearance in cases such as dental or medical internships and residency programs, performing teaching services that qualify for loan forgiveness, or are a member of the National Guard, yet not called to active service.

The most important thing to remember about the deferment process is that you don’t want to wait until the last minute to request it. Don’t wait until you are struggling to pay your monthly loan payments to call the lender. Instead, contact them when your loan is still in good standing, and the lender might be more agreeable to work with.

If you are interested in seeing how much you could save by refinancing your student loans, visit Credible.

This article originally appeared on huffingtonpost.com. Written by Stephen Dash.