Federal student loan borrowers have an opportunity to suspend payments — without incurring interest on them — for 60 days, the Department of Education announced Friday. This policy applies only to federal loans, not to private student loans.
If you want this option, called a forbearance, it will not be automatic — you must request it from your servicer.
Make no mistake: This is a pause on payments, not forgiveness. Your debt will be waiting for you when repayment begins at the end of the two-month forbearance, unless the policy changes.
And the policy could well change. The measures were made in response to the economic fallout related to the spread of coronavirus, and COVID-19, the illness it causes. Neither the outbreak nor its economic impact shows signs of slowing, and lawmakers have proposed more dramatic measures.
“I do think there’s going to be additional waves of relief, depending on how this pandemic plays out,” says Betsy Mayotte, president and founder of the Institute of Student Loan Advisors.
Until then, here’s how to decide what to do next.
If you want to pause payments
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