Parent Plus Loans: You’ve been meaning to look into parent plus loans for awhile now. After all, paying for college is no small task, and with tuition costs only increasing, you know your kid will need help footing the bill. But what exactly are parent plus loans? How do they work? As a parent, are you even eligible? This quick guide breaks down everything you need to know about these federal loans for parents. In this helpful words that will take you less than five minutes to read, you’ll learn about eligibility requirements, interest rates, how and when to apply, and more. So whether you’re exploring ways to pay upcoming tuition bills or researching financial aid options for the future, read on for the complete lowdown on parent plus loans.
What Are Parent Plus Loans?
As the name suggests, Parent Plus loans are federal education loans available to parents of undergraduate students. Here are some key details about these loans:
- Available to biological parents, adoptive parents, and stepparents of students who are enrolled at least half-time in college or career school. Borrower must not have any adverse credit history.
- Credit check is required, but does not consider income or debt-to-income ratios.
- Higher interest rate than undergraduate federal direct loans, usually around 7% variable. Interest starts accruing immediately.
- Can borrow up to the full cost of attendance, minus any financial aid the student receives. No set borrowing limit.
- Several repayment options are available, including income-driven plans that cap payments at a percentage of income and offer forgiveness after 20-25 years. But payments usually must start right away, while the student is still in school.
- Can be consolidated or refinanced to potentially lower the interest rate or monthly payments. Federal consolidation keeps federal protections and benefits.
- Federal protections like income-driven plans, deferment and forbearance are available to avoid defaulting on the loans if struggling to make payments.
- Loan is in the parent’s name, not the student’s. But if payments become delinquent or the loan goes into default, the student may become ineligible for further federal financial aid until it’s resolved.
So in short, Parent Plus loans allow parents to fill the gap between a student’s financial aid package and the remaining cost of college. They come with responsibilities, but also options to manage the payments. Consider carefully when borrowing and use sparingly.
Parent Plus Loan Eligibility Requirements
So, you want to take out a Direct Parent PLUS Loan to help pay for your child’s college education? Great! Here’s what you need to know about eligibility:
- The borrower must be the student’s biological or adoptive parent or stepparent. Grandparents, aunts/uncles, legal guardians, etc. are not eligible.
- You’ll need to pass a basic credit check. It’s a pretty low bar as credit checks go, but if you have an adverse credit history, you may be denied.
- Your child must be a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half-time at an eligible college. If your child is in graduate school, unfortunately Parent PLUS loans are not an option.
- As the borrower, you’ll need to be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen with a valid Social Security number.
- You cannot have an outstanding balance on a defaulted federal student loan of your own. Any prior federal student loan debt must be in good standing.
And that’s the gist! As long as you fit those requirements, you should be eligible to take out a Parent PLUS loan. Just keep in mind that while extremely helpful for many families, these loans do accrue interest starting right away, so explore all aid options first.
Interest Rates on Parent Plus Loans
Parent PLUS loans have fixed interest rates set annually by the federal government. The interest rate applies to the life of the loan, even as new loans in later years may have different rates.
The interest rates on Parent PLUS loans are higher than rates on federal student loans available to undergraduate students. However, Parent PLUS loans still typically have lower interest rates than private student loans.
For all Parent PLUS loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2022, and before July 1, 2023, the interest rate is 7.54%. After the first year, interest rates can fluctuate from year to year based on the formula set by Congress.
The fixed interest rate means your monthly payments will be the same over the life of the loan unless you consolidate or refinance. Interest capitalizes once the loan enters repayment. This means unpaid interest gets added to the principal balance, increasing the amount you owe.
To keep costs down, consider making interest payments while still in school or during grace periods. Or look into consolidating or refinancing options after leaving school that may offer better rates.
Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of federal versus private loans in terms of eligibility requirements, borrowing limits, loan forgiveness, and repayment plans. Your financial situation can change over time, so evaluate your options annually.
How to Apply for a Parent Plus Loan
To apply for a Direct PLUS Loan (a federal loan parents can use to help pay for college), follow these steps:
- Determine your eligibility. Be the biological or adoptive parent (or in some cases, stepparent) of an undergraduate student enrolled at least half-time at an eligible college. You’ll also need to pass a basic credit check.
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Your child must submit this form first before you can apply for a Parent PLUS Loan.
- Apply for the loan online, or by paper application. Log in at StudentAid.gov to apply electronically. Or print and complete the PDF application found at StudentAid.gov. You’ll need your child’s details and Social Security Number.
- Complete a credit check. The application process includes authorization for the Department of Education to run a soft credit check to determine your eligibility. They will let you know if you’ve been approved or denied.
- Review your loan offer details if approved. This will outline the loan amount and fees. You can choose to accept the entire amount, request a lower amount, or decline the loan.
- Complete loan counseling. All PLUS Loan borrowers must complete this counseling session on StudentAid.gov. It covers your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.
- Sign your Master Promissory Note (MPN). This legal document outlines the conditions of your loan and your agreement to repay it under those terms.
Be sure to monitor your loan status online and contact your loan servicer once you have the loan if you have any questions about repayment options. Eligibility criteria and terms may evolve over time, so always check StudentAid.gov for the latest information.
So there you have it – the key facts about parent plus loans. While they can help bridge the gap between other aid and college costs, it’s important to consider the repayment responsibilities carefully. Hopefully this breakdown of eligibility, interest rates, application process, and alternatives helps you determine if parent plus loans are the right fit for your family’s situation. Just remember, you’ve got options, so explore them thoroughly and don’t hesitate to speak to a financial aid counselor if you need guidance or have any questions. N