Student loan payments can big a huge financial burden, and you may find it difficult to pay when times get tough. If you’re unable to pay, the last thing you should do is skip a payment – as you’ll get slapped with expensive late fees that can hurt your credit score. Instead of missing payments, apply for a forbearance instead.
What is forbearance?
Forbearance means that you’re not required to make a payment on your loan for a temporary period of time. It’s granted when you’re faced with a financial hardship that makes it difficult to make your monthly payments.
Do I still pay interest?
When a forbearance is granted, interest still accrues on your student loans. As such, it’s best to avoid going into forbearance unless it’s absolutely necessary. During the forbearance, interest can add up fast since you’re not making payments towards your loan.
How long can a student loan forbearance last?
You can receive a forbearance for up to 12 months at a time. After 12 months, you’ll need to reapply for it. For a general forbearance, the total limit is three consecutive years.
General vs. mandatory forbearance
A general forbearance is granted at the discretion of your loan servicer. Financial difficulty, medical expenses, and changes in employment all qualify for a general forbearance, although your loan servicer may have other conditions which they would consider. It’s always worth contacting them, as they’re typically willing to work with you.
Mandatory forbearance is forbearance that your loan servicer is required to grant. The list of qualifications for mandatory forbearance can be found at Student Aid.gov. Most people qualify for general forbearance, but not mandatory forbearance.
How to apply for a student loan forbearance.
If you believe you qualify for a forbearance, complete a General Forbearance Request form.pdf. If you’re applying for a mandatory forbearance, select the form that meets your specific criterion on the Student Aid.gov website instead. The request form varies if you need a mandatory forbearance. In both cases, you may be required to submit documentation, showing why you qualify.
If you’ll have trouble making your monthly payment soon, don’t wait to fill out the request form. You’re required to continue making your monthly payments until your forbearance is approved. Missing these payments will trigger late fees, which can cause your loans to be delinquent.
If possible, try to continue making payments in the interest during your forbearance. While these payments aren’t required, they will save you a lot of money in the long run if you’re able to make them.
While it’s always best to keep making payments, it simply isn’t possible for everyone. There are plenty of reasons why you may be struggling to make your monthly payments, but you should never miss one. As soon as you think you’ll have trouble making a payment, contact your loan servicer and request a forbearance.