By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
Are you struggling to pay back your student loans? Instead of becoming delinquent on your loan payments or falling into loan default, explore the option of obtaining forbearance from your loan servicer. Forbearance is a temporary period of time where you do not need to pay your loan payments or you can pay smaller payments than originally scheduled. If your loan servicer accepts your forbearance request, you and your loan servicer will have to agree to all the terms and sign an agreement. Forbearance is only granted for legitimate reasons, and some of these reasons are explained below:
- Insufficient funds — If your monthly loan payment is equal to or greater than 20 percent of your total monthly gross income, you qualify for forbearance. Obviously, you have to submit proof of insufficient funds, so make sure you have your financial documents in order. These documents include your latest pay stub and any other income receipts.
- Poor health — If your health becomes so poor that you cannot work or pay any of your bills, you could qualify for forbearance. This exemption includes a short-term illness or injury to yourself or an immediate family member. If you are suffering from a terminal illness or injury, you will want to explore other options, such as loan discharge or loan deferment. Forbearance is temporary and can only be used for short-term health concerns.
- Active military duty — If the government issues a national mobilization of troops and you are a servicemember, you could qualify for forbearance during deployment. This exemption applies to a time of war or other national emergencies.
- Other legitimate reasons — There are other ways to qualify for a forbearance. Serving humanitarian efforts abroad is a way to possibly qualify for forbearance. Other examples are serving in a special medical/dental internship or residency program or performing a teaching service for low-income school districts. As always, you should contact your loan servicer if you feel you have a legitimate reason to qualify for forbearance.
Forbearance is not exactly ideal, and it should not be treated as a loophole to get out of paying your student loan debt. It should only be requested (and granted) if you have a legitimate claim to it.
If you are a student at APU, you can also utilize Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC). They can help determine if you would be a good candidate for forbearance, and can also speak on your behalf to the loan servicer. Remember, forbearance is a temporary relief from loan payments, and you should strive to get off forbearance as soon as possible.