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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 during the forbearance period or your servicer may add it to the balance of your loans when the forbearance ends. Interest accrues on all loans, including federal Subsidized loans.
  • 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, interest does not accrue during deferment on subsidized federal student loans. Contact your servicer to discuss your options.