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Federal Student Loan Forbearance

Here's one path to receiving federal student loan help when you need it the most

In the context of federal student loans, the word forbearance means a temporary postponement of or reduction in payments for a certain period, due to the borrower's financial difficulties. It is not to be confused with federal student loan forgiveness because you still have to pay your remaining loan balance and are simply delaying it. Some borrowers receive federal student loan forbearance after unsuccessfully seeking a deferment.

Unlike the case with deferments, federal student loan forbearance means interest will continue to accrue on your loans, whether they are subsidized or unsubsidized. As the borrower, you're still responsible for paying that interest, even when you've been granted a forbearance.

What federal student loan forbearance means to you

Forbearance—which is granted in one-year intervals, for up to a total of three years—can give the borrower needed federal student loan help to avoid delinquency or default. To qualify, you must apply to your loan servicer and continue to make payments until you've been formally notified that your request for forbearance has been granted. During the period of loan forbearance, you will continue to receive quarterly statements that outline the interest that has accumulated on your loan. If you do not pay that interest, it will be added to your loan's outstanding principal amount.

Do you qualify for mandatory federal student loan forbearance?

There are certain circumstances in which lenders are mandated to grant you forbearance of your federal student loans. They include:

  • If you're in a medical or dental internship or residency
  • If your federal student loan payments represent 20% or more of your monthly income
  • If your federal student loan payments are being made by the Department of Defense

Find flexible student loan help from Citizens Bank

We want to help you find the financing you need, as well as the student budgeting resources and convenient student bank accounts that meet the needs of busy students like you. If you need help financing additional education pursuits, find helpful information about our affordable Citizens Bank Citizens Bank Student Loan®. If you have more questions, call a student loan specialist at 1-800-708-6684, and we'll help walk you through the process.


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