5 Options for Student Loan Repayment Relief

If you’re having difficulty making your student loan payments, don’t ignore them. Failing to make a loan payment can damage your credit score, and you could get hit with late fees. You have options for working with your loan servicer:

Deferment is a temporary suspension of loan payments for specific situations such as returning to school, unemployment, or military service. Deferments aren’t automatic. You’ll need to contact your loan servicer to request or renew a deferment and continue to make payments on your loan until it’s approved. Deferments are available for Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Loans, and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL). Depending on the loan type, either the borrower or the federal government pays the interest during deferment periods.

Forbearance is the temporary postponement or reduction of payments for a period of time up to 12 months at a time and for a total of three years. Interest continues to accrue during the forbearance period. If you’re experiencing financial difficulty or an illness, your loan servicer may grant you discretionary forbearance. Some situations trigger mandatory forbearance, including participating in a medical internship or residency and having low income relative to your debt burden. It’s up to you to contact your loan servicer to request forbearance, and you must continue to make loan payments until it’s approved.

Loan forgiveness allows borrowers to cancel all or a portion of their student loan debt in return for specific types of service. The Direct Loan program offers loan forgiveness for teachers (Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program) and public service workers (Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program).

Loan cancellation or discharge occurs when a borrower becomes totally and permanently disabled or dies, or meets certain very specific criteria for Direct and FFEL Loans and Federal Perkins Loans. Many of these criteria are service based—for example, Federal Perkins Loans may be cancelled for certain qualifying teachers, librarians, and law enforcement members. Talk with your lender if you think you might qualify.

Consolidation combines your federal student loans into one loan. This makes repayment more convenient because there’s only one monthly payment. Consolidation can extend the repayment period, giving you a lower monthly payment. The trade-off for lower payments is more interest paid over the long term. To learn more, go to

If you can’t make your payments, contact your loan provider immediately; they will work with you to get you back on track.

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