There are a few ways that student loans can be deferred: in-school deferments and hardship deferments. While there is no time limit on deferments for a borrower that is enrolled in either a part time or full time degree program, the limit for hardship deferments is three years, as noted by the U.S. Department of Education.
Student loans can also be placed in deferment if the borrower is in a period of active duty military service. This can include times of war, military assignments or national state of emergencies. Borrowers must request a deferment, as they are not automatically applied to an account once the borrower becomes eligible. This can be done though the loan servicing company or via one's school financial aid office, if still in school.