If you have taken federal Stafford (Direct or FFELP), GradPLUS (Direct or FFELP) or Perkins loans prior to entering HLS you qualify for deferment of those loans while enrolled at HLS. In addition, since all of the federal loan programs and the Harvard Law School loans have an in-school deferment option, not only can you defer your prior education loans now, you can also defer these types of loans in the future should you decide to pursue an additional degree with an accredited institution.
In order to defer the payment of your loans, it is always best to confirm with each of your lenders the process through which the deferment will take place. It may be that you do not have to submit any paperwork to defer your loan. This is true if your particular lender participates in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). NSLDS is a database that receives enrollment information from university registrars at participating schools (Harvard University is a participating school). Lenders are allowed to download enrollment information directly from this clearinghouse. They can then match the data they download with their borrower records, thereby verifying whether a student/borrower is enrolled in a full-time degree program. If the student meets the enrollment requirement for deferment, the student is automatically deferred without any necessary paper documentation.
If your school or lender does not use the services of NSLDS, then you must obtain a paper deferment form from each lender and submit it to the Law School Registrar’s Office at the time of registration in the fall. The Registrar will verify that you are enrolled in a full-time degree program and will forward your deferment form to the lender.
Regardless of which process is used, it is your responsibility to follow up with your lenders to be sure that your deferment has been approved and received by the lender in order to avoid a negative impact on your credit by missing monthly loan payments. Furthermore, you should be prepared to make an additional month’s payment on your loan(s) in case the deferment form does not go through before your next due date.
Once your deferment is approved, your loans will defer in the same manner as they did when you were previously enrolled. For example, if you had a subsidized Stafford loan and interest did not accrue while you were enrolled, then the loan will not accrue interest while you are enrolled here at the Law School. Similarly, if your loan did accrue interest while you were previously enrolled, your loan will accrue interest while you are here at the Law School.
Each lender has their own policy on how often they will verify your enrollment status, therefore, you will need to ask your lender if you need to submit a deferment form each semester while enrolled, or once at the beginning of each academic year. Students who are denied a supplemental loan are often denied because they did not file for deferment. The lender does not know that you want to defer payments on your loans unless you inform them by submitting either an electronic or paper deferment form.