Student Loan Forbearance

Student loan forbearance is the next best option for borrowers who don't qualify for deferment to temporarily lower or suspend student loan payments. During forbearance, the lender may require interest-only payments. In some cases, the student can defer all payments for up to 3 years. Click to learn the difference between the two.

If at any time a student cannot make a required payment, they should immediately contact the servicer to receive a temporary cessation of payments. Forbearance availability differs between federal and alternative loans - below is a breakdown of each.

Federal Loan Forbearance

There are two types of federal loan forbearance, mandatory and discretionary.

Mandatory Forbearance

Servicers are required to grant a mandatory forbearance if the borrower meets the eligibility criteria in certain circumstances. These include serving in a volunteer program or serving in a medical residency program. For more information, visit our Federal Student Loan Forbearance page.

Discretionary Forbearance

Servicers are not required to grant discretionary forbearance, but may do so on a case-by-case basis. Borrowers may be eligible for this type of forbearance if they're not eligible for mandatory forbearance but are experiencing financial difficulties.

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Alternative Loan Forbearance

Lenders offer alternative loan forbearance on a case-by-case basis. Students experiencing financial hardship should contact their loan lender to find what options are available. Typically, lenders will grant forbearance for issues such as unemployment, illness, or other documented hardships.

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Application Process

To apply for forbearance on a student loan, borrowers should contact their loan servicer. To locate loan servicer information including company and contact information, borrowers can request a credit report, or for federal loans log into

Borrowers may be required to provide documentation supporting their hardship or eligibility for mandatory forbearance.

Interest Rates and Forbearance

Student loan forbearance does not freeze variable interest rates, so interest may fluctuate during these periods. Typically, interest charges will capitalize once the student begins repaying again.