Understanding a Forbearance

Forbearance is defined as a temporary pause or suspension of student loan payments due to an inability to make payments as caused by financial hardship. Forbearance is available to borrowers of all federal student loans such as Stafford and Perkins, campus-based loans, as well as some private loans.  

The terms of the forbearance are as listed below: 


  1. Interest still accrues in the forbearance period.
  2. Interest may be paid on a monthly basis or will be billed at the end of the forbearance period.
  3. There is a cap of 36 months for the 10-year span of the loan.  
  4. A borrower cannot do another forbearance period until the interest has been paid off.  


Forbearance and an economic hardship or an unemployment deferment are often mistaken for one another, as in all cases they are granted in financial hardship situations. The difference between the three is that although forbearance can be obtained more readily than the two deferments mentioned, interest continues to accrue during the forbearance period, even on subsidized student loans.  

In addition, the forbearance period is counted into the maximum repayment period. If you were given ten years to repay your student loan at a consistent defined amount, then granted forbearance, the ten-year repayment period would not be extended as the time in forbearance would be counted as part of the ten years. In turn, this could trigger either an increase in your future regular payment amount or raise the amount of your final payment at the close of the ten-year repayment term.