Sometimes called "excessive debt forbearance," mandatory forbearance requires your lender to let you postpone your student loans—provided you meet certain criteria. If you do, your servicer must let you use this postponement. This is unlike most other kinds of forbearance, which are generally granted at the lender or servicer's discretion.
Of course, even if you do qualify for this forbearance, you aren't required to use it if you don't want to. You only get 12 months of forbearance at a time for a total of 3 years, so only use it when you absolutely need to. If you've already used that time, you won't be eligible for another forbearance (even if it's "mandatory").
How To Qualify
You can qualify for this forbearance in certain cases of economic hardship. This includes if the payments on your federal student loans are greater than 20% of your gross monthly income. You may also be eligible based on your work (e.g., medical or dental internship, national service, teaching). Contact your student loan servicer for more information.
What You'll Need
Documentation of your federal student loan debt and your income.
Where To Send This Form
The U.S. Department of Education has released a single application form, which is valid for all federal student loan servicers. Submit this to your servicer (the company that sends you the bills). If you don't know who that is, you can go to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®) to find out.