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Student Loan Forbearance

Yes you can get: Student Loan Forbearance

With forbearance, you won’t have to make a payment, or you can temporarily make a smaller payment. However, you probably won’t be making any progress toward forgiveness or paying back your loan. As an alternative, consider income-driven repayment.

You have a limited amount of forbearance available. Save it for when you really need it.

Consider an IDR Plan First

Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans base your monthly payments on your income and family size. In some cases, your payment could be as low as $0 per month.

Delayed Progress Toward Forgiveness

If you’re seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or income-driven repayment forgiveness, forbearance will not allow you to make progress toward forgiveness.

Interest Accrues During a Forbearance

If you get a forbearance, you’re still responsible for the interest that accrues while you’re not making payments. After your forbearance ends, you’ll pay off your accrued interest through normal monthly payments. For most loan types, interest won’t capitalize at the end of a forbearance.

Exception: Unpaid interest does capitalize after a forbearance on Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans that are not managed by the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

FFEL Program Loans Not Managed by ED

You can either

  1. pay the interest as it accrues or

  2. allow it to accrue and be capitalized (added to your loan principal balance) at the end of the forbearance period.

If you do option B, the total amount you repay over the life of your loan may be higher.

How to Apply for a Forbearance

Most types of forbearance are not automatic. To apply for a forbearance, you must

  1. identify which type of forbearance you’re requesting;

  2. fill out the form for that forbearance type;

  3. gather any documents needed to show that you meet the eligibility requirements for that forbearance type; and

  4. send the filled-out form and documents to your federal student loan servicer.

Find links to the forms under the forbearance types listed below. There are two main categories of forbearance: general and mandatory.

General Forbearance

Your loan servicer decides whether to grant a request for a general forbearance. For this reason, a general forbearance is sometimes called a “discretionary forbearance.”

You can request a general forbearance if you are temporarily unable to make your scheduled monthly loan payments for the following reasons:

  • Financial difficulties

  • Medical expenses

  • Change in employment

  • Other reasons acceptable to your loan servicer

Loan Programs Eligible for General Forbearance

General forbearances are available for Direct Loans, Federal Family Education (FFEL) Program loans, and Perkins Loans.

Duration of a General Forbearance

For loans made under all three programs, a general forbearance may be granted for no more than 12 months at a time. If you’re still experiencing a hardship when your current forbearance expires, you may request another general forbearance. However, there is a cumulative limit on general forbearances of three years.

For more information, review the General Forbearance Request.

Mandatory Forbearance

If you meet the eligibility requirements for a mandatory forbearance, your loan servicer is required to grant the forbearance. You may be eligible for a mandatory forbearance in the following circumstances.

Note: The mandatory forbearances discussed below apply only to Direct Loans and FFEL Program loans unless otherwise noted.


Department of Defense Student Loan Repayment Program

Medical or Dental Internship or Residency

National Guard Duty

Student Loan Debt Burden

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Duration of Mandatory Forbearances

Mandatory forbearances may be granted for no more than 12 months at a time. If you continue to meet the eligibility requirements for the forbearance when your current forbearance period expires, you may request another mandatory forbearance.

You must continue making payments on your student loan(s) until you have been notified that your request for forbearance has been granted. If you stop paying and your forbearance is not approved, your loan(s) will become delinquent and you may go into default.

Additional Links

Who’s My Student Loan Servicer?

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

Student Loan Deferment

Student Loan Delinquency and Default

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