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We're the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.

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What is forbearance?


Forbearance is a temporary postponement or reduction of your student loan payments because you are experiencing financial difficulty. 

Forbearance works differently depending on whether you have a federal or private student loan:

  • Federal student loans: Your federal student loan servicer can grant forbearance for up to 12 months at a time. You have to apply to your loan servicer for forbearance. You must continue to make payments until you receive confirmation that your servicer has accepted your forbearance request.
  • Private student loans: Private student loan forbearance varies and is more limited than the federal program. Some servicers charge borrowers a flat fee to place loans into forbearance for a period of three months. Contact your private student loan servicer as early as possible if you want to explore this option.

Here are some things to consider before asking for forbearance:

  • You are still responsible for the interest accrued during a forbearance. You can pay the interest as it adds up or your servicer may add it to the balance of your loans when the forbearance ends.
  • You may be eligible for other repayment options. If you cannot afford your payments, you may be able to enroll in a payment plan that lowers your monthly payment. You also may be able to enroll in a deferment. Unlike forbearance, you do not have to pay interest during deferment if you have a subsidized federal student loan. Contact your servicer to discuss your options.

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The content on this page provides general consumer information. It is not legal advice or regulatory guidance. The CFPB updates this information periodically. This information may include links or references to third-party resources or content. We do not endorse the third-party or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. There may be other resources that also serve your needs.