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What is student loan forbearance?

Student loan 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. Generally, you have to apply to your loan servicer for forbearance, but you can do this over the phone. 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. Contact your private student loan servicer as early as possible to explore this option.

Here are some things to consider before asking for forbearance:

  • You are still responsible for the interest accrued during 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. However, interest will not capitalize on Direct Loans. For other federal loans that are not owned by the Department of Education, the interest that accrues during a forbearance may be capitalized.

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.