Student Loan Forbearance: How It Works and Who May Benefit

Forbearance can temporarily stop or lower student loan payments, but it always increases the amount you owe.

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Student loan forbearance is a way to lower or stop making your payments temporarily. It is not a long-term affordability strategy, nor is it a way to put off repayment indefinitely.

And that means very few people should use it — probably far fewer than are right now. In the first quarter of 2019, almost 2.7 million federal student loan borrowers had loans in forbearance, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Think of forbearance as a last resort to avoid student loan default . Use it only if all the following are true:

You can’t pay your loans.

You don’t expect to wait long to restart repayment.

You won’t qualify for deferment, which is a better option for pausing repayment.

If you’re worried about affording your federal student loans in the long run, opt for an income-driven repayment plan instead to help keep your payments manageable.

What is student loan forbearance?

Student loan forbearance is an option that lets you temporarily pause or reduce your monthly payments.

Federal student loan forbearance usually lasts 12 months at a time and has no maximum length. That means you can request forbearance as many times as you want, though servicers may limit how much you receive.

There are three overarching types of federal student loan forbearance: general, mandatory and administrative. (more…)

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