Private Student Loan Relief During the Pandemic

Private student lenders are offering relief like temporary forbearance.
Anna HelhoskiAug 6, 2021

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Private student loan borrowers, unlike federal loan borrowers, aren’t likely to see an interest-free forbearance anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean private lenders aren’t coming up with ways to support borrowers during the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find the latest

Here’s a roundup of what private lenders are offering borrowers to ease their payment burden.

Many have disaster or emergency forbearance. Typically that means a short-term pause on payments that won’t count toward any existing forbearance limits. Interest will still accrue during all private loan forbearance periods.

Federal student loan borrowers are currently in an interest-free payment payment pause that began March 13, 2020, and was extended through Jan. 31, 2022. The pause does not apply to private student loans.

Find your private student lender below. In addition to changes specifically for the current pandemic, this list also includes options available to borrowers at all times.

If you’re in good shape financially, with a stable job and good credit, refinancing your private loans may be a good option as well. Compare all of your options — and the emergency options available — before you refinance.

Federal student loans — given their protections if you lose your job, the current programs and the potential for further relief — aren't good candidates for refinancing in this environment.

Advantage Education Loan

What it's now offering: Contact Advantage Education Loan to discuss your options.

Existing options: Economic hardship forbearance for up to 24 months.

Contact: 800-693-8220.

Ascent Student Loans

What it's now offering: A three-month Declared Emergency Forbearance option allowing borrowers to pause their payments.

Existing options: Reduced payments for medical and dental residents; forbearance for four consecutive periods, with a 24-month limit. Students who applied for an Ascent loan on or after May 17, 2019 and took out a loan with Ascent may be eligible for Ascent’s Progressive Repayment option, which allows them to reduce their current monthly payment which then gradually increases over time so that the loan may be fully paid off within the original loan term.

Contact: 877-216-0876 or [email protected]

Citizens Bank

What it's now offering: Contact Citizens Bank to discuss your optionns.

Existing options: Grace period extension of six months; up to 12 months of forbearance.

Contact: 888-411-0266.

College Ave

What it's now offering: 30 days of COVID-19 disaster forbearance for those whose ability to pay has been impacted by the pandemic.

Existing options: Grace period extension of six months; case-by-case forbearance.


What it's now offering: National disaster forbearance as long as the national emergency lasts. The forbearance a borrower takes won't count toward the usual forbearance CommonBond offers (see below). CommonBond is also waiving all late payment fees for the duration of the emergency.

Existing options: Forbearance up to 24 months, in three-month increments for refinancing loan borrowers; forbearance up to 12 months, in three-month increments for private undergraduate loan borrowers; internship, residency or fellowship forbearance.

Contact: 800-975-7812.

Custom Choice

What it's now offering: Contact Custom Choice to discuss your options.

Existing options: Up to 12 months of hardship forbearance available in 2 month increments; extended grace period of 6 months for loans that have been in repayment for 90 days or less.  

Contact: 800-233-0557


What it's now offering: Contact Discover to discuss your options.

Existing options: Public service deferment; medical residency deferment; up to 1 month of economic hardship or unemployment forbearance (not consecutive); a temporary lower interest rate for up to 12 months ($50 minimum payment); a temporary payment reduction ($50 minimum payment) for up to six months on loans less than 60 days late.

Contact: 800-223-5614.


What it's now offering: Covid- related forbearance in one month increments, which is continuing into 2021; borrowers also have the option to pay only the interest on their loans for a term of three months.

Existing options: Up to 12 months of forbearance; internship, residency or fellowship deferment for up to 48 months; borrowers can skip one month’s worth of payments every 12 months, which counts toward the 12-month forbearance limit.

Contact: 888-601-2801.

Education Loan Finance

What it's now offering: Contact ELFI to discuss your options.

Existing options: Up to 12 months of forbearance for a hardship.

Contact: 844-601-ELFI or [email protected]


What it's now offering: Between April 17, 2020 and Jan. 31, 2021, EDvestinU will not assess late fees, refer accounts to collections or capitalize interest on new deferments or forbearances.

Existing options: Borrowers are eligible for 12 months of economic deferment, in three-month increments; discretionary forbearance is available, but you must contact the lender to find out your options.

Contact: 855-887-5430.

First Republic

What it's now offering: Contact First Republic to discuss your options.

Existing options: No forbearance available.

Contact: 888-408-0288.

First Tech Federal Credit Union

What it's now offering: Financial hardship assistance may be available. Contact First Tech about your options. You can request a loan modification if you’re having difficulty making payments. Submit new Consumer Loan Payment Assistance Request form to be considered.

Existing options: Three months of deferred loan payments and 3 months of reduced payments.

Contact: 855-855-8805 or make a loan modification request.

Funding U

What it's now offering: 1-month, one time only natural disaster forbearance through the end of March 2021. Interest will accrue and be capitalized when borrowers restart repayment.

Existing options: Economic hardship forbearance in 90-day increments up to 24 months.

Contact: 855-537-5457


What it's now offering: National emergency forbearance. Contact your account manager to discuss the details.

Existing options: Forbearance; graduated repayment; income-sensitive repayment.

Contact: 800-592-1270 or [email protected]

Laurel Road

What it's now offering: You may be eligible for a forbearance or an extension if you are continuing to experience economic hardship related to COVID-19. Contact MOHELA (Laurel Road’s loan servicer) to learn about forbearance and hardship relief.

Existing options: Forbearance for 12 months, in three-month increments, for qualified economic hardship; reduced payments for medical and dental residents.

Contact: 877-292-6845 (MOHELA).


What it's now offering: Contact LendKey to discuss your options.

Existing options: For refinancing loans, forbearance ranging from 12 to 18 months, depending on your loan; for private loans, up to 18 months of forbearance in six-month increments.

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What it's now offering: One month of natural disaster forbearance in which no payments are due, but interest will continue to accrue. If your economic hardship continues, MEFA (via its servicer American Education Services) will work to provide additional relief, including a modified payment plan, which could provide a temporary reduction in your monthly installment.

Existing options: No forbearance available.

Contact: American Education Services at 1-800-233-0557.


What it's now offering: No additional options are available. MPOWER adjusted forbearance for COVID-impacted cases so that it is not reported as a negative on the credit report. Interest on forbearance will not capitalize.

Existing options: Up to 24 months of forbearance.

Contact: 202-417-3800 or submit this form.

What it's now offering: One month of disaster forbearance to qualified private loan borrowers who request it.

Existing options: Temporary rate reduction to lower your interest rate for up to six months; interest-only repayment from one to four years; extended repayment; term and rate modification program; and forbearance.

Contact: 888-272-5543.

What it's now offering: Contact Navy Federal Credit Union to discuss your options.

Existing options: Up to 18 months of forbearance in six-month increments.

Contact: Contact the Student Loan Center at 1-877-304-9302.


What they’re now offering: Courtesy skip payment program. Log in to PenFed Online and select the option “Financial Assistance for Members Affected by COVID-19.”

Existing options: Up to six months if you've lost your job or face a different temporary hardship. You can also apply for permanent hardship relief, with no maximum length, if you expect your situation to last longer than six months. Relief may take the form of skipped payments — like a traditional forbearance — or a temporary or permanent adjustment to your repayment plan.

Contact: 1-800-247-5626.


What it's now offering: Up to 90 days of payment postponement, with late fees waived and loan modification, available through Jan. 31, 2021.

Existing options: Forbearance up to 12 months, in two-month increments, which you can only request once every 12 months.

Contact: 800-762-1001 or go to to log on and select "having your payments postponed" to request assistance.

Prodigy Finance

What it's now offering:  Contact Prodigy to discuss your options.

Existing options: Case-by-case forbearance usually up to three months.

Contact: [email protected] or (+44) 20 3900 3535.


What it's now offering:  Up to three months of suspended payments as part of its coronavirus relief program, which will continue until further notice.

Existing options: Up to 12 months of forbearance and income-based repayment where borrowers pay a maximum of 15% of income per month.

Contact: 888-758-7562 or [email protected]

Sallie Mae

What it's now offering: Disaster forbearance in one-month increments. Interest does not capitalize and no fees are charged. Customers who experience long term hardship may request a temporary loan modification.

Existing options: Up to 12 months of forbearance, in three-month increments; borrowers can request up to 12 interest-only payments; internship, residency or fellowship deferment for up to 60 months.

Contact: 800-472-5543 or via online chat on the Sallie Mae site or app.

Splash Financial

What it's now offering: You can request natural disaster forbearance for 90-day periods, and Splash Financial's individual partner lenders are working with borrowers who may need extended forbearance. Splash plans to keep this policy in place for its borrowers as long as the federal student loan forbearance is extended.

Existing options: Case-by-case temporary payment relief.

Contact: 800-349-3938 or [email protected]

SunTrust (now Truist)

What it's now offering: Contact American Education Services (Truist's servicer) to discuss your options.

Existing options: Up to 12 months of forbearance, in three-month increments; borrowers may request up to 36 months of interest-only payments.

Contact: American Education Services at 800-233-0557.


What it's now offering: Up to 60 days of forbearance, with the option to extend for 30 additional days. A refi form and a private student loan form are available on SoFi’s website.

Existing options: Up to 12 months of forbearance, in three-month increments; reduced payments for medical and dental residents.

Contact: [email protected] or live chat at

Nelnet Bank

What it's now offering: Contact Nelnet to discuss your options.

Existing options: Up to 24 months of forbearance.

Contact: 844-307-3451 or [email protected]

Wells Fargo

What it's now offering: Contact Wells Fargo to discuss your options.

Existing options: Two months of payment relief for borrowers who have made on-time loan payments; up to six months of financial hardship payment relief; temporary or permanent loan modification; grace period extension of up to six additional months; internship, residency or fellowship forbearance, up to 36 months.

Contact: 800-658-3567. For new payment assistance requests, log in to your online banking account and select the payment assistance banner at the top of your Account Summary.

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