If you're 1 of the 40 million consumers with student loans, you may have doubts about ever being able to repay your debt in full or even make a single payment.
Thankfully, both the federal government and private lenders have options you can explore when you're broke and in debt. You can defer your loan payments or request forbearance, both of which pause your payments while you look for a way to rebalance your cash flow.
A deferment is a period during which repayment of your student loan principal and interest is temporarily delayed.
With forbearance, you may be able to stop making payments or reduce your monthly payment for up to 12 months. But, interest will continue to grow.
Missed a student loan payment already? See how that impacts your credit with a free credit report at myBankrate.
But before you jump at the first seemingly simple solution to your dilemma, remember there are consequences to any financial decision.
"It's easy to enroll in a program to delay your loan payments, but you need to realize that you are on a slippery slope and could be sliding into a bigger hole than when you started," says Andrew Josuweit, founder and CEO of Student Loan Hero, a company that helps borrowers manage their student loan debt.
Josuweit knows exactly the danger you could be in. He graduated from college with $70,000 in student loan bills and opted to defer and forbear his payments. He ended up amassing an additional $30,000 in debt from accumulated interest.