How to Pause Monthly Payments With a Student Loan Forbearance
UPDATED Tuesday March 31st, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has just radically altered the value of Federal Student Loan Forbearances, making them not only much more valuable than ever before, but also AUTOMATIC.
Everyone with a Federal student loan just had their loans put into a special Forbearance, automatically, thanks to the passing of the Coronavirus CARES Act.
And the good news is that this Forbearance isn’t going to cost you anything; it won’t eat up your limited Forbearance time, your loan won’t accumulate interest, and you’ll even receive credit towards eventual loan forgiveness for all the payments you skip during this special Forbearance.
The Coronavirus CARES Act Federal Forbearance Program
Basically, it’s the best Forbearance program ever offered, and one that you automatically get to utilize without having to even contact your servicer. It doesn’t come with special qualifications like other Forberances either. EVERYONE is already on it.
For the full details on how this works, visit my Guide to the Coronavirus Student Loan Forbearance.
If you’re here looking for information about regular Forbearances during normal times, keep reading the rest of this Guide, which will walk you through the different types of Forbearances, their qualifications requirements, pros and cons, etc.
But Before I Explain Normal Forbearances…
I’ve been writing about student loans for over 10 years, and I want to give you one quick piece of advice; if you’re buried in student loan debt, then it may be time to pay an expert for assistance.If you're truly struggling with student debt, then you should also consider paying a Student Loan Debt Relief Agency for help. Why? Because the people working at these companies deal with student loans all day, every day, and they're your best chance at figuring out how to get your loans back under control.
I've interviewed all sorts of debt relief agencies over the past 10 years, talking to all sorts of so-called "experts", and I can tell you that in all honesty I've only found two companies I trust to offer actual financial relief to people struggling with student loans.
For help with FEDERAL Student Loans: Call the Student Loan Relief Helpline at 1-888-906-3065. They will review your case, evaluate your options for switching repayment plans, consolidating your loans, or pursuing forgiveness benefits, then set you up to get rid of the debt as quickly as possible.
For help with PRIVATE Student Loans: Call McCarthy Law PLC at 1-877-317-0455. They will negotiate with your lender to settle your private loans for much less than you owe, then get you a new loan for the much lower, settled amount. NOTE: McCarthy Law can ONLY help with Private student loans.
If you do decide to call one of these companies and you have a bad experience with either of them, PLEASE make sure to come back and let me know about it in the Comments!
What is a Student Loan Forbearance?
Forbearances are relatively simple, and operate almost identically to deferments, meaning that your student loan is put on pause so you can temporarily stop making monthly payments.
However, unlike many of the deferment programs available this year, at the time of writing, forbearance does not prevent your loan from accumulating interest.
What’s that mean?
It means that even though your loan is put on pause, it will continue to accrue interest.
And that means that you’re going to end up owing more money when the forbearance ends, and that you’ll end up with bigger monthly payments once your forbearance period ends.
Meaning that you may come out of the forbearance in an even worse financial situation than you were in when you went into it!
Why Would You Want to Use a Forbearance?
Federal Student Loan Forbearances remain an excellent option for anyone struggling to repay their student loans.
In fact, student loan forbearances can be an economic life-saver, since they allow you to put your monthly student loan payments on pause.
Pausing your monthly payments lets you save up money, build a financial nest-egg, then restart your loans when you’re in a better position, and actually able to make those monthly payments.
Fortunately, the federal government has made forbearance programs more widely available than ever before, allowing many of those who’ve failed to qualify for a Federal Student Loan Deferment to get the help they need with a Forbearance.
What Types of Forbearances are Available?
There are two types of forbearances available to those with federally-funded student loans, called General Forbearances and Mandatory Forbearances.
There are some important distinctions between how each of these types of Forbearances operate.
Differences in General vs. Mandatory Forbearances includes:
- How they’re applied for
- How they’re approved
- How long they can run
Let’s go through those details to make sure that you fully understand how they work, explain which type of Forbearance may be best for you, and how you can apply to each type of Forbearance.
General Student Loan Forbearances
General Forbearances have to be applied for, and your Federal Student Loan Servicing Company gets to choose whether or not to grant you a General Forbearance.
Because it isn’t automatically approved, these are often referred to as “Discretionary Forbearances” (as it’s up to your Servicers “discretion” whether or not you get to pause your loans).
Reasons to Request a General Forbearance:
- Facing severe financial difficulties
- Needing to redirect student loan payments to cover medical expenses (or simply being so sick that you just can’t deal with your student loans at all)
- A change in employment (losing your job, getting a pay cut, changing industries, etc.)
- Other reasons your Servicer offers (each Servicer has different rules)
Types of Loans Eligible for a General Forbearance:
- Direct Loans
- Federal Family Education (FFEL) Program Loans
- Perkins Loans
Duration of a General Forbearance:
- General Forbearances can only be made for up to 12 months at a time
- If you’re still facing a hardship when your Forbearance ends, then you have to request another general Forbearance, and your Servicer has to approve it again
- Currently, you’re only supposed to receive up to 3 years of payment pauses via General Forbearances, so make sure to only use them when you TRULY need them!
How to Apply for a General Forbearance
- Contact your Student Loan Servicing Company to ask them for the paperwork required to apply for the type of Forbearance you want
- They’ll provide you with whatever paperwork, forms and information is needed to process your request
Mandatory Student Loan Forbearances
Mandatory Forbearances also need to be applied for, but your Servicer can’t turn you down for them as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.
Each type of Mandatory Forbearance has different requirements, so we’re going to have to go through each type in detail, explaining who qualifies for them, etc.
Reasons to Request a Mandatory Forbearance
- Participating in the AmeriCorps Program
- Qualifying for the Department of Defense Student Loan Repayment Program
- Serving as a Medical or Dental Intern, or Resident
- Serving on National Guard Duty, after being activated by a Governor, but not being eligible for a military deferment
- Facing an excessive Student Loan Debt Burden (defined as owing more than 20% of your total monthly gross income each month for student loan payments)
- Qualifying for Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Types of Loans Eligible for a Mandatory Forbearance
- Direct Loans
- Federal Family Education (FFEL) Program Loans
Duration of Mandatory Forbearance
- Mandatory Forbearances can only be made for up to 12 months at a time
- However, if you still continue to meet the eligibility requirements for the type of Mandatory Forbearance you received when your current Forbearance ends, then you can simply request another one
How to Apply for a Mandatory Forbearance
- Contact your Student Loan Servicing Company to ask them for the paperwork required to apply for the type of Forbearance you want
- They’ll provide you with whatever paperwork, forms and information is needed to process your request
How Do I Apply for a Student Loan Forbearance?
This part is relatively easy, except for the fact that there’s no single application, document, or process for requesting your forbearance.
The reason it’s not standardized or consolidated into a single process is that each lender has their own process for receiving requests, evaluating them and issuing approvals, and you’ll have to ask your lender to provide those details to you.
The good news is that getting those details is as easy taking a few minutes to make a phone call or shoot off an email, so there’s no valid reason not to do it right now.
Your lender should tell you exactly what process you need to follow, including what documentation (if any) will be required to process your request.
To prepare for this conversation, I’d recommend getting together your financial statements, like your paycheck stubs, taxes paperwork, and especially your papers showing how much your monthly student loan payments are, and having them ready in advance so that you can provide those numbers at initial contact.
Can I Avoid Interest Accrual During Forbearance?
In short, no.
No matter what type of forbearance you receive, the interest on your loan will continue to accumulate throughout the forbearance period.
This only time this hasn’t been true is during the current special forbearance period being offered by the coronavirus CARES Act, which DOES NOT allow interest to occur.
However, you can avoid having that interest recapitalized after your forbearance ends (which means added to your loan principal, which increases your monthly payments and the cost of your loan), by simply continuing to make monthly interest-only payments while you’re on forbearance.
Basically, even though your loan will be on pause with the forbearance, you can continue to make monthly payments for whatever interest is accumulating, and that will allow you to prevent the amount you owe from growing.
If you can afford to do this, then you need to do it, because failing to do so will mean higher monthly payments and more debt after the forbearance period has ended, and you definitely don’t want that.
When Can I Stop Making Payments?
This part is important – do not stop making your monthly student loan payments until your lender contacts you in writing to state that your forbearance request has been approved and granted.
If you stop making your payments before then, and your request isn’t approved, you’ll be delinquent as soon as a payment misses, and at risk of defaulting on your loan.
Once you’ve defaulted on a student loan, you’ll have a much harder time receiving any form of assistance, so don’t let that happen!
What if I Can’t Get a Forbearance?
If you’re not eligible to receive a forbearance, and you’ve already been turned down for a deferment, then it’s time to start considering changing your repayment plan, or requesting a loan modification.
The first thing to do when you think you’re going to have trouble making your monthly payment is to contact your lender, let them know, and ask them what options you have.
Some lenders will offer forgiveness, extensions, interest rate reductions or other loan modifications that could save you serious money simply because you’ve told them you need it, but none will do that if you haven’t asked.
Be honest with your lender, back up your requests for assistance with facts and documentation, and you just might be surprised at what you could receive in response.
What Other Federal Student Loan Relief Programs Should I Look Into?
Forbearances are just one of the many tools available to help you deal with Federal student debt.
And they’re not even one of the better ones, because some of the other assistance programs are way, way more powerful than a Forbearance.
I’ve spent the past 10 years writing over 100 Guides on ForgetStudentLoanDebt.com about the many different ways to Get Help with Federal Student Loans, so make sure to look at my Guides on:
- Federal Student Loan Forgiveness
- Federal Student Loan Bankruptcy
- Federal Student Loan Consolidation
- Federal Student Loan Delinquency & Default
- The Federal Student Loan Rehabilitation Program
- Federal Student Loan Wage Garnishment
- Federal Student Loan Deferment
- Federal Student Loan Forbearance
- Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans
What Private Student Loan Relief Programs Should I Look Into?
If you have private student loans, then you’ll want to look at my advice on Getting Help with Private Student Debt, which you can find in the following Guides:
- Private Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
- Private Student Loan Consolidation
- Private Student Loan Bankruptcy
- Private Student Loan Defaults
If you have any other questions about student loans, please feel free post them in the Comments section below.
I’ll do my best to get you a response within 24 hours!
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Disclaimer:Information obtained from Forget Student Loan Debt is for educational purposes only. You should consult a licensed financial professional before making any financial decisions. This site receives some compensation through affiliate relationships. This site is not endorsed or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education.
Gail Ross March 3, 2020
Is it possible for me to get a forbearance on my son’s student loan. I was held
responsible due to his age……He was only 17 when he entered college, however,
he turned 18 less than a week. So my income tax check is held and I could use it.
I am 63 years old still working 2 jobs and can’t afford to retire…
Thanking you in advance for your assistance.
It’s possible, but do you know how a forbearance works? It only pauses payments on the loan, it doesn’t eliminate debt. I think what you actually want is to pursue forgiveness.
I am 67 -1/2 I live on my social security and a very small pension which all total under 2500 a month My net is approx 24,000 a year.
Mandatory Forbearance asks for taxable income?
How do I know what is taxable?
You talk to your CPA or Tax Preparer, or you look at your IRS return.
My daughter is enrolled in Clarke Atlanta University until spring 2020. She has government student loan and private loans. I need information about the loan forgiveness program and which loans qualify.
So, you should look at my Guide on Federal Student Loan Forgiveness, and my Guide on Private Student Loan Forgiveness.
Hi Tim, I was recruited by Kaplan in 2014. I had at that time been in the field of Hospice as a Patient Communication Liaison, Education and Development. I was able to substitute my work experience for a Bachelors that was required for the last ten years, however, my long term goals were to become a Hospice Social Worker, Grief Therapist. Of course in order to achieve my goals I would have to have a Masters. I began looking a colleges who offered online programs for Bachelors as well as Master Degree because I wanted to be able to go straight into my Masters if not have an opportunity to take accelerated classed to shorten my enrollment time. I saw that Kaplan offered a Masters in Social Work so in talking to the recruiter about my Career goals and education needs, she stated that they offered a Human Services Gerontology Bachelors program that would be similar to Social Work and with that I could go into my Masters. She stated that Kaplan was accredited and also said that I could earn credits for my experience and with my background of years of Healthcare Management up to Divisional Management that I would save alot of money and could potentially finish in 2 years. In the recruitment phase she reiterated how closely the counselors and staff work closely with students with communication and support . I was told this was a Bachelors Degree accredited program, also Kaplans website stated Bachelors Degree. Out of the many emails I have saved, one of them was a response from admissions/recruiting after I told her I was looking at several different Colleges to find the best fit for myself. Her response was “while youre comparing colleges, make sure you ask about accreditation because many offer programs that aren’t accredited” She contated me via email and phone daily regarding Kaplan being the best choice for me with multiple points of student support, staff communication and resources, and finally with in that same week sent me an email saying that I qualified for 2 scholarships but I would have to enroll immediately to receive them and gave me a cut off time and date to get everything on the list of forms turned in. She painted the perfect picture as Kaplan being exactly what I was looking for after explaining my career background and future goals. At age 42, I returned to college enrolling with Kaplan. I had not been in school since the age of 20 and was prepared for the sacrifice and determined to give 150% I was a Deans List Student maintaining a 3.5 GPA for many consecutive terms of over a year and a half and nominated and to be a member of the The National Society of Collegiate Scholars. All of this did not come easy, I have ADHD and struggle with its challenges, I had to relearn study skills and I sacrificed my time for what I thought was well worth the sacrifice, my education!
Well into my second year of taking 2 classes every 10 weeks, I was involved in an accident which resulted in a broken wrist, shoulder and neck injury. When I informed Kaplan telling them that I was under heavy pain medication and with my broken wrist, could not type. I did not know what to do or what this would mean for my large assignments of several 10,000 word research papers that I would have to complete as final projects as I had just a few weeks left in the term. One professor told be to have my mother type my papers for me while the other said to go buy a voice command device! This was not what I expected as neither of these suggestions were options for me. After multiple emails and voicemails to my Student Advisor, I had no response. I immediately thought back to what I was told during admissions recruiting and this was by far what I would consider over and above. This in fact was not acceptable as average support. I ask if I could have an incomplete due to my injuries. I could not keep up with the extensive assignment load and was denied stating we had past the cut off for incomplete, regardless of my circumstances of limitations. I was withdrawn from each class and given the grade of an F in each!! Due to not passing a class, this disqualified me from the scholarships that I was receiving of $1000.00 per term. Being that classes at Kaplan were $2000 – $3000 per class with additional technology fees, this wreaked havoc on my financial aid student loans and grants. I ask if there were any options for medical leave because the next term began in 2 weeks and with my injuries, I could not participate fully. I was told that once per year a student can take one term off. So I did. When I returned, I was still under medical care for my neck injury having to go to physical therapy 3 days per week. It was extremely painful to sit and type the many research papers and discussion assignments but my determination remained. I was prescribed medication to help me focus as it became more and more difficult to retain information and focus with the distraction of being in pain. I continued making C’s and B’s but was not the Deans List student that I was prior to my injury. At the end of my second year with Kaplan, I had a close family member get diagnosed with cancer and I became her primary caregiver. She lived in an area where there was no internet so on my days where other family members helped, I would go into town and work on class assignments. As she declined, I stayed bedside. I communicated with my professors and counselor, once again I had extenuating circumstances and needed options of support and resources. None were given and one of the classes I failed because I could not finish the final assignments on time. I soon received a letter stating that I was placed on academic probation. I continued to struggle reaching out to each professor and counselor, my dear family member passed away and I sat bedside with her during her decline. I received an email from Kaplan stating that I was dismissed from the program due to not maintaining my GPA during academic probation. The notification that I had just recieved a few weeks prior. I sent in an appeal, stating that I had been a Deans List student for many terms. I stated why I was unable to keep up being due to my family member being terminal and passing away. My appeal was denied. I began to spend hours researching policies. Something that I should have done in depth long before. I discovered that it was policy that if you were in an accident and unable to finish classes due to injury, that the student would be released from that class and also not charged tuition. The other policy that I discovered stated that if you had a family member that was ill, you were entitled to take a leave and your grades would not be affected, tuition would not be charged. When I appealed again with my discovery, Kaplan stated that they were not accepting new students nor were they accepting return students into the Human Services/Gerontology Bachelors Program. The learned that the program was no longer offered. When I applied at another College, still determined as it is a true calling into Hospice for me. Becoming a Hospice Social Worker is my passion. After applying to other colleges, I was shocked to learn that Kaplan did not hold the accredation that the admissions recruiter stated, the Bachelors Degree that they offered and advertised in fact was not even a bachelors degree it was a certificate!! The majority of my classes taken at Kaplan do not transfer! I will have to start all over. I started taking classes at a local community college, enrolled as a FRESHMAN. When I enrolled with Kaplan University I was looking at several different schools, I had already been in the field of Hospice for close to ten years, why would I ever choose to pay what totals to $42,000 taken in student loans and pell grant for a certificate program. I should have Graduated with my Masters last June. The date given when I first enrolled with Kaplan. My student loans are capped out owing a total of $60,000. I do not have money available now via student loans and I am not even considered to have an associates degree! I have applied for Student Loan Forgiveness and just learned that my loans are placed on Forbearance until 2028. This may sound great to some, unless youre trying to fund your education with out the means of a student loan. I am applying for scholarships although Im not sure how it will reflect being dismissed for academic. I am still determined, I will become a Hospice Social Worker earning my Masters Degree. I just have to hope that my loans will be forgiven and there being some type of aid out there that will assist with tuition. I have applied to the local University here where I live and searching for ways to fund my education that I feel Kaplan has robbed me of my ability to pay. Do you have any suggestions or input on student loan forgiveness. I was also a resident of IL the entire time while attending Kaplan. I no loner live in the state but just learned of a lawsuit for IL residents who attended Kaplan. Do you know if this would apply to me? This experience has been beyond difficult to process. I truly feel cheated by the lies that I was told during recruiting and the zero support that I received as a Kaplan student as I struggled, no one cared! I am just lost as to how this could happen. I trusted them and the system.
I’m sorry to hear about your experience with the school, the auto accident and the cancer diagnosis of your close friend, but I will tell you that none of those medical concerns or personal problems will matter at all in your Borrower’s Defense Application. You need to focus on proving that the school committed FRAUD against you, and having tough rules or lacking compassion about your personal challenges is not going to accomplish that. Read my post again and look at the examples I provided that qualify someone for a BDAR discharge. If you didn’t have similar experiences, then you won’t qualify for the program.
I have a student loan from Younomics. I’ve had a payment agreement with them for a while now – the latest one it turns out was up for renewal at the beginning of the year, but they continued to take out monies from my bank account at the same rate. I began recently receiving phone calls from them, and when I called back, a rep told me that I was delinquent on payments and needed to apply for a forbearance. Upon reviewing my documents, I discovered that no, in fact, I was not behind/delinquent. I notified them, but the only response I get is that the lender is not willing to renew payment agreements with their clients at this point, therefore they are offering the forbearance. I have told them I do not want it, and have repeatedly asked for a reason. In addition, I have an email which states that my payment agreement cannot be terminated, only the amount changed. Please advise. Something feels quite fishy to me. Thank you!
I think you may need to contact an attorney. There’s really nothing that I can do to help here.
If your loans are Federal, try getting in touch with the Student Loan Ombudsman Group. This is a group of government-backed lawyers who give free legal advice on student loan-related issues.
If your loans are Private, contact McCarthy Law PLC at 1-877-317-0455. They MIGHT be able to help, but it depends on what’s really going on here. Their specialty is dealing with loans that ARE delinquent/defaulted, so if you actually are current, their process may not work.
I’ve been accepted at a grad school in the UK and had my old student loans from undergrad put in forebearance. That being said, I wasn’t great at making payments on time before that. I need to be approved for a new Federal Direct PLUS loan to be able to attend grad school (so I can graduate, get a better paying job to pay off ALL the loans… ugh) but was denied initially. Do you think there’s a greater chance I’ll be approved for the new Federal Direct PLUS loan now that I’m in forebearance and once I’ve refistered as “currently enrolled” on my old loans with my new program?
This is so stressful! Thanks for any help!
You’re definitely increasing the chances that you’ll get approved for the new loan if you’re in Forbearance and “currently enrolled”, but there’s still a chance that they’ll deny you. The standard process for getting approved on a loan is to ensure that all of your existing loans are “in repayment”, and yours is technically there, sort of? I think you’ll be ok, but you should line up secondary sources of lending just in case it falls through.
Hi! I have several loans. A couple federal and private through Navient. I am teaching in a Title 1 school for my third consecutive year. After five years is completed, I was going to see if I can have part of the loan forgiven. I saw on your site that if you qualify for the Federal loan forgiveness you can apply for forbearance. Is that true? Is there anything I can do to lower the payments. If I am paying them money each month, but I know that the loan will be forgiven, I do not want to pay more than I need to. Any help would be great. Thank you in advance!
If it’s on the site, then it was true at the time I wrote it. If you need to know for certain, contact whoever servicers your loan and them whether or not it will hurt your eligibility for eventual forgiveness. Get their answer to you IN WRITING so you have documented proof if they try to weasel their way out of it later.
I have been having issues with Navvient, I keep my loans in forbearance (voluntary) which they have always approved, I make regular payments, which is over the “interest accrued” monthly according to their representative. The issue I ran into is though the payments are processed an applied automatically they are taking the payments and not applying it right so I still get capitalized interest. When I asked, the lady had no clue, she tried saying I didnt pay enough, then I had her look at the payments, some months it would put it towards principle totally, then do a correct, principle and interest, then the last 6 month of the year all went to interest and they still added more to my loan total than they applied towards principle. I asked about it no explanation, she first tried to blame it on my for not paying enough, then I had her look at each payment details. She got mad and said it would have to be investigated, that was 3 months ago.
I just logged in and now they cancelled the forbearance and changed my due date for payments to 2 weeks from now, no letters no anything. I only saw it because I just logged in..
Any advise what to do?
If this is for a Federal loan, I think you should contact the Student Loan Ombudsman Group (call 1-877-557-2575). Tell them about your situation and see what they think you should do. They provide free legal advice for dealing with Federal student loan debt problems.
If this is for a private loan, then call the Student Loan Relief Helpline, and see if they can shed any light on the situation. You may have options for getting away from Navient entirely by refinancing or consolidating with another lender who has their act together. You can reach the Student Loan Relief Helpline here: 1-888-694-8235
I am wanting to know if my permanently disabled 75 year old mother, who is drawing social security and trying to scrape by can qualify for TPD. This is a 20 year old loan. She is on a set income and does not own her home. Is there any way she can get a discharge. They currently have her in forbearance, and that sure doesn’t help either! Thank You.
If she is totally and permanently disabled, then she definitely has a chance. Visit the TPD online application page, and start filling out the required application forms.
You can act as her representative in the process, and basically handle it all for her, so don’t worry about troubling her for details unless there’s something that you can’t find out on your own.
Hello I am requesting information for my son. He is presently paying two student loans, one is in forebearance, which is completely affecting his credit and hence cannot buy a home. He pays monthly, but the interest is making is balance to keep going up. There seems no end to this vicious cycle. How can get get off forbearance and continue making payment, so that he could at least qualify for a home. My husband and I are not financially able to do more than help a klittle with his payment. Upon graduation, he combined all his accounts, or at least told they were all consolidated. Before he knew it the one balance went into forebearance and he was unable to do anything about it. His is a hard worker, wants to pay his debts, but is very unhappy about not being able to qualify for a home loan. Thank you for your assistance
It sounds like your son is facing a pretty serious situation, like so many others, where the monthly payments are getting too high and it’s become extremely difficult to meet them.
I would suggest that he try to qualify for the Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan, or one of the other programs that sets monthly payments based on his income, which will make it take longer to pay off his loan, and cost him more in the long-run, but could allow him to meet minimum monthly payments in the short-run, and help him from having his loans default.
If he really wants to qualify for a home loan, then he’s going to have to get his student loans out of forbearance and into good standing. He needs to be making monthly payments on these loans, otherwise the bank won’t believe that he can take on additional debt.