According to the National Center for Education Statistics, for the 2020-21 academic year, approximately 38% of full-time, first-time undergraduate college students in the U.S. received loan aid of some kind. If you had to take out student loans to help fund your education, you’re not alone.

You’re also not alone if repaying the loans you took out is sometimes a struggle. Fortunately, you may qualify for student loan relief, which could significantly reduce your financial burden. Keep reading to learn more about what student loan relief is and how you may qualify.

Student Loan Forgiveness vs. Student Loan Relief: What You Need to Know

Some mistakenly believe that student loan relief is the same as student loan forgiveness. That’s not necessarily the case.

Per the U.S. Department of Education, student loan forgiveness occurs when an individual no longer needs to pay back a loan. The government may forgive an entire loan, meaning an individual doesn’t have to repay any of it, or the government may partially forgive a loan, reducing the amount a lendee needs to repay. Other terms for forgiving a student loan include “canceling” a loan or “discharging” a loan debt.

Student loan relief is sometimes different. Often, student loan relief involves one of the following two scenarios:

  • An individual no longer needs to make payments on a loan for a certain period of time. During that period, interest doesn’t accrue.
  • An individual doesn’t need to make loan payments for a certain period of time, but interest DOES accrue during this period.

In both of these instances, a loan debt has not been fully discharged. A lendee will need to begin making payments again at some point in the future.

There are various reasons a person may qualify for student loan relief. For instance, if health issues or other such life complications interfere with a lendee’s ability to work and earn an income, they may temporarily not have to make payments while they focus on improving their circumstances.

Qualifying for Student Loan Relief: What You Need to Know

Sometimes, virtually anyone who took out a student loan qualifies for relief. A recent example of this would be the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the CARES Act, for a limited period, borrowers did not have to make student loan payments and interest did not accrue. Because the pandemic affected the entire world, most borrowers generally qualified for this form of relief.

In other scenarios, qualifying for student loan relief may involve first researching student loan relief and forgiveness programs to learn more about their criteria. Some programs offer relief to individuals who have certain occupations, such as teachers or members of the military. Others may offer relief to those who face hardship due to illness or other such factors.

What’s most important is to be aware that, again, unlike student loan forgiveness, student loan relief is usually temporary. You also can’t stop making payments on your loans because you assume that you will qualify for a relief program. Until you officially receive word that you can stop making payments for a period of time, it’s critical to continue making payments according to the established schedule.

Debt Legal Defense is a San Antonio law firm offering student loan defense services and related services.