If you have federal student loans, you can request a deferment from your loan servicer to temporarily pause payments on your federal student loans.
Unless you have subsidized loans, interest will accrue while you’re in deferment and may be capitalized when the deferment is over. Capitalization adds that interest to the principal balance of your loan, causing your loan balance and monthly payments to go up. The interest would then be applied to that higher principal balance going forward.
In deferment, you won’t be making payments that count toward programs like income-driven repayment or Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
If you’re having trouble making your monthly loan payments, you can enter an income-driven repayment plan rather than go into deferment indefinitely. Depending on your income and family situation, your monthly payment could be as low as zero dollars.