College Loan Deferment During Residency or Fellowship Training

  • The federal government has eliminated the option of deferment of college loans during residency training. This includes residency training for physicians and other health care professionals. When undergoing a physical therapy residency and/or fellowship program, you have several options related to your college loans:

    Economic Hardship Deferment

    You can try to defer your federal loans if you qualify for an economic hardship. Review the qualifications for an economic hardship deferment.


    You can request forbearance from your federal loan while you are taking part in a residency or fellowship program. Note that forbearance is different than a qualifying deferment and will result in adjusted payment amounts which will be higher once the forbearance period ends.

    Loan Consolidation/Income-based Repayment Plan:

    As of July 2009, you are able to consolidate your federal loans and lock your rate with a set payment that will be 15% of your salary. After 25 years of qualifying payments, the remaining balance of the loan may be forgiven.

    Under the new health care reform law, starting in 2014, the payments for consolidated loans will be set at 10% of your salary with the remaining balance of the loan being forgiven after 20 years of qualifying payments.

    Public health option: Under the income-based repayment plan, after 10 years of employment at qualifying non-profit or public health organizations your federal loans are eligible to be forgiven.

    With respect to loans from private lenders, contact them and see if they offer any of the above options, similar to federal loans. Bear in mind, that upon residency completion, you will receive a certificate from the program if you successfully pass. In addition, should you sit for and pass the board certification exam through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS), you will earn credentials following your residency training. Some private loan lenders may require you to verify either, or both, of these requirements.

    For additional information or questions, please feel free to contact the APTA Department of Residency/Fellowship at or 703/706-8552 with questions.

  • American Physical Therapy Association | 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-1488 703/684-APTA (2782) | 800/999-2782 | 703/683-6748 (TDD) | 703/684-7343 (fax)