Student loans are expensive — borrowers in their 20s make average monthly payments of $351.
Unfortunately, making monthly student loan payments can become impossible if you experience a setback such as a job loss or serious illness.
If you can’t pay your student loans, you have options. Most federal student loans offer deferment and forbearance to temporarily pause payments. Many borrowers who are repaying private student loans can take advantage of similar borrower protections, too.
But not all private lenders allow you to push pause on your monthly payments. If that kind of flexibility is important to you, you’ll need to research lenders carefully.
Whether you’re looking for private student loans while in school or lenders offering student loan refinancing, check out these six private lenders with great repayment protections.
- SoFi offers loan deferment for borrowers who return to graduate school at least half-time, who are undergoing rehabilitation for a disability, or who are serving on active duty in the military. Interest continues to accrue during deferment.
- Student loan forbearance is also available for borrowers who are terminated from their jobs through no fault of their own. Borrowers can postpone their monthly payments for three months at a time and for a maximum of 12 consecutive months. Interest continues to accrue during forbearance.
- Loans can be in forbearance for a total of 12 months during the life of the loan.
- Borrowers must work actively with SoFi’s Career Strategy group while loans are in forbearance. A career strategist helps borrowers to find a new job by developing a personal brand, charting a career path, updating resumes, and preparing for interviews.
- CommonBond allows academic deferment for borrowers who return to school. Interest continues to accrue during deferment.
- CommonBond provides for loan forbearance through its CommonBridge program for borrowers experiencing financial hardship. Borrowers can postpone monthly payments for three months at a time for up to 12 consecutive months total, although interest continues accruing while payments are suspended.
- Loans can be in forbearance for a total of 24 months during the life of the loan.
- The CommonBridge program helps borrowers enhance their careers through networking opportunities. Members who are between jobs may also be matched with consulting opportunities to earn income.
3. Laurel Road
- Laurel Road provides loan forbearance for borrowers facing financial hardship due to a job loss, maternity leave, or other qualifying reasons. Interest accrues while loan payments are suspended.
- Borrowers may be eligible to postpone payments through forbearance for one or more three-month periods.
- Loans can be in forbearance for up to 12 months during the life of the loan.
- For loans originated after spring of 2015, Laurel Road will forgive the outstanding loan balance if the borrower dies or demonstrates that a permanent disability has caused a significant and permanent income reduction.
- Earnest offers up to 36 months of student loan deferment if you’re attending graduate school, serving in the Peace Corps, or serving on active duty in the military. Interest continues to accrue.
- Earnest offers forbearance for involuntary decreases in income or the loss of a job, as well as for parental leave or circumstances where borrowers experience significant expenses including home repairs or medical bills.
- Earnest discharges student loans if the borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled.
- With LendKey, forbearance is approved based on economic hardship at the discretion of the lender.
- If you’re approved, forbearance is available for up to six months at a time, and interest continues accruing while the loan is in forbearance.
- Loans can be in forbearance for a maximum of 18 months total during the life of the loan.
Applying for borrower protections while repaying private student loans
The process of applying for student loan deferment or forbearance will vary by lender. For example:
- SoFi borrowers will need to complete a deferment request form and provide proof of eligibility, including proof of military service, participation in a rehab program, or attendance in a qualifying educational program. When applying for student loan forbearance, SoFi borrowers must prove they’ve applied for unemployment benefits.
- If you’ve borrowed through Laurel Road, forbearance requests are reviewed to determine if the borrower is experiencing a qualifying economic hardship. The hardship doesn’t necessarily need to be a job loss. Laurel Road reviews requests for forbearance on a case-by-case basis and requires updated documentation proving the nature of your economic hardship.
- LendKey makes it easy to apply for student loan forbearance by making request forms available on its website. However, an approval of forbearance request is not guaranteed. The application requires information on employment, income, and expenses, and you must give LendKey permission to check your credit.
Since each lender offers its own options for private student loans with deferred payments, contact your lender directly if you can’t make your payments. Your lender can explain the process to pause payments and help you to complete any necessary forms.
All lenders require some form of documentation, however, so start preparing proof of economic hardship now. This could include information about your expenses, proof of health issues, or a record of applying for unemployment benefits.
Finally, before applying for deferment or forbearance, consider the impact of interest continuing to accrue on your loan. While putting loans into forbearance is a much better solution than defaulting on a loan, remember that paying back your loan will ultimately cost more if you’ve taken advantage of student loan deferment or forbearance.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 2/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.23% – 13.23%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.20% – 11.44%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 10.11%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 13.25%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.85% – 6.99%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.42%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|