Forbearance and FFELP and Direct Loans. A forbearance is a temporary reduction or postponement of your student loan payments. A forbearance is generally used when you are not eligible for a deferment and cannot meet your repayment schedule. Interest continues to accrue and you are responsible for paying it, no matter what kind of loan you have.

You must apply to your lender, servicer or the Department of Education Direct Loan Servicing Center for a forbearance. You lender or servicer can grant a forbearance for period up to twelve (12) months at a time, for a maximum of three (3) years. You will have to provide documentation to the lender or servicer describing your request for a forbearance. The lender or servicer must send to you a notice confirming the terms of any forbearance that were agreed to and record them in your file. You must continue to make payments until you have been notified by your lender or servicer that your forbearance request has been granted.

In some cases, you must be given a forbearance. These are called "mandatory forbearances." For example, a borrower who is in a medical or dental internship or residency must be given a forbearance upon the lender or servicer's receipt of a request for the forbearance and sufficient supporting documentation. There are other circumstances when you may be eligible for a mandatory forbearance. Be sure to review your loan documents and loan program guidelines so you know if you might be eligible.