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are students responsible for parent plus loans Should you help your parents repay parent plus loans?

are students responsible for parent plus loans Should you help your parents repay parent plus loans?

The Informed Parent’s Guide to Federal Parent PLUS Loans

Are you a parent of a college-bound student? If so, you're probably aware of the increasing cost of higher education. From tuition fees to textbooks, the expenses can quickly add up. As a result, many parents find themselves considering different financing options to support their child's educational journey.

One common financing option available to parents is the Federal Parent PLUS Loan. In this article, we will delve into the details of this loan program, providing you with a comprehensive and informed understanding. So, let's get started!

What are Federal Parent PLUS Loans?

The Federal Parent PLUS Loan is a federal loan program administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Designed to help parents finance their child's education, this program allows them to borrow money to cover the cost of attendance at an eligible educational institution.

These loans are available to parents of dependent undergraduate students who are enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program. Whether you're a first-time borrower or have previous experience with student loans, the Parent PLUS Loan can be a flexible and accessible option.

How do Federal Parent PLUS Loans work?

Now that you have a basic understanding of what Parent PLUS Loans are, let's dive into how they work. Here are the key details you need to know:

Eligibility: To qualify for a Parent PLUS Loan, both you and your child must meet certain eligibility requirements. First and foremost, your child must be a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half-time in a degree or certificate program. Additionally, you must be the biological or adoptive parent (or, in some cases, a stepparent) of the student. Finally, you must not have an adverse credit history.

Loan Limits: The amount you can borrow through the Parent PLUS Loan program is determined by the cost of attendance at your child's school, minus any other financial aid received. Unlike some other federal loan programs, there is no fixed limit on the amount you can borrow. However, it's essential to consider the financial impact of taking on additional debt.

Interest Rates and Fees: As with any loan, it's crucial to pay attention to the interest rates and fees associated with the Parent PLUS Loan program. The interest rate for these loans is fixed, meaning it remains the same throughout the life of the loan. However, it's worth noting that this interest rate may change from year to year. Additionally, the federal government charges an origination fee on the borrowed amount.

Repayment Options: Parent PLUS Loans typically have a repayment period of up to 10 years. However, there are several repayment plans available, including income-contingent options that base your monthly payment on your income and family size. It's essential to understand the different repayment plans and choose one that suits your financial situation best.

Why Choose Federal Parent PLUS Loans?

Now that you know how Parent PLUS Loans work, you may be wondering why you should consider this financing option. Here are several reasons why parents opt for these loans:

1. Accessibility: Parent PLUS Loans are relatively easy to obtain compared to private loans. As a federal loan program, they have straightforward application processes and fewer eligibility criteria compared to private lenders.

2. Fixed Interest Rates: Unlike private loans with variable interest rates, Parent PLUS Loans offer fixed interest rates. This means that your interest rate will not change over the life of the loan, providing you with financial stability and predictability.

3. Loan Forgiveness and Cancellation Options: In certain circumstances, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness or cancellation. For example, if you work in certain public service jobs or become permanently disabled, you may be able to have your remaining loan balance forgiven.

4. No Prepayment Penalty: Parent PLUS Loans do not have prepayment penalties. This means that if your financial situation improves and you want to pay off your loan quicker, you can do so without incurring any additional charges.

While these advantages make Parent PLUS Loans an attractive option, it's essential to consider both the pros and cons before making your decision. Remember, every financial situation is unique, and what works for one family may not work for another.

The Pros and Cons of Parent PLUS Loans

Now that we've discussed the advantages of Parent PLUS Loans, let's explore some potential drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons you should weigh before committing to this financing option:

The Pros:

1. Availability: Parent PLUS Loans are available to almost all parents with dependent undergraduate students. As long as you meet the basic eligibility criteria, you should be able to qualify for this loan program.

2. No Cosigner Required: Unlike private loans, Parent PLUS Loans do not require a cosigner. This means that you, as the parent borrower, are solely responsible for the loan repayment, without burdening your child with additional financial obligations.

3. Flexible Repayment Options: The Parent PLUS Loan program offers various repayment options tailored to your financial situation. From standard plans to income-driven options, you can choose the plan that aligns with your budget and preferences.

The Cons:

1. Higher Interest Rates: Compared to other federal loan programs, Parent PLUS Loans often have higher interest rates. This can result in a more significant long-term financial burden, especially if you're borrowing a substantial amount.

2. Origination Fees: While some federal loans do not charge origination fees, Parent PLUS Loans do. These fees can add up, increasing the overall cost of your loan.

3. Limited Loan Discharge Options: Unlike some other federal loan programs, Parent PLUS Loans have limited loan discharge options. This means that if you face financial hardship or encounter certain other circumstances, it can be challenging to have your loan forgiven.

By considering these pros and cons, you can make a well-informed decision about whether Parent PLUS Loans are the right choice for you and your family.

Applying for Federal Parent PLUS Loans

Now that you have a solid understanding of Parent PLUS Loans, you may be wondering how to apply for them. The application process involves several steps, which we will outline below:

Step 1: Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Before applying for a Parent PLUS Loan, your child must complete the FAFSA. This form provides the necessary information to determine their eligibility for federal student aid. It's important to note that the Parent PLUS Loan is not based on financial need.

Step 2: Complete the Parent PLUS Loan Application

Once the FAFSA is submitted, you can then proceed to complete the Parent PLUS Loan application. This application is available on the official Federal Student Aid website. You will need to provide your personal and financial information, as well as information about the school your child will be attending.

Step 3: Sign the Master Promissory Note (MPN)

After completing the application, you will need to sign the Master Promissory Note (MPN). This document serves as a legal agreement between you and the U.S. Department of Education, outlining the terms and conditions of the loan.

Step 4: Wait for Loan Approval

Once you've submitted all the necessary documentation, you will need to wait for loan approval. The Department of Education will conduct a credit check to determine your eligibility. If approved, you will receive a loan disclosure statement that outlines the loan details.

Step 5: Complete Loan Entrance Counseling

Before the loan funds can be disbursed, you will need to complete loan entrance counseling. This counseling session provides you with essential information about your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

Repaying Federal Parent PLUS Loans

After understanding the application process, it's important to familiarize yourself with the repayment process as well. Repaying your Parent PLUS Loan is a significant financial responsibility, and being prepared will help you manage this obligation successfully.

Here are some key points to consider regarding loan repayment:

Grace Period:

Parent PLUS Loans have a grace period, which is a period of time after your child graduates, leaves school, or drops below half-time enrollment. During this period, you are not required to make any loan payments. It's important to note that interest will still accrue during this time.

Repayment Options:

As mentioned earlier, Parent PLUS Loans offer various repayment options. These options include standard repayment, graduated repayment, extended repayment, and income-driven repayment plans. It's crucial to review these options and choose the one that best suits your financial situation.

Loan Servicers:

Once you begin repayment, your loan will be assigned to a loan servicer. This entity will be responsible for collecting and managing your loan payments. It's important to maintain regular communication with your loan servicer to stay updated on your repayment progress.

Loan Consolidation:

If you have multiple federal student loans, including a Parent PLUS Loan, you may be eligible for loan consolidation. Consolidating your loans combines them into a single loan with a fixed interest rate. This can simplify the repayment process and potentially lower your monthly payments.

Loan Forgiveness and Discharge:

While Parent PLUS Loans have limited forgiveness options, it's crucial to be aware of any potential discharge programs. In certain circumstances, such as the death of the borrower or student, or the closure of the school, the loan may be discharged, relieving you of further repayment obligations.


In conclusion, the Federal Parent PLUS Loan program provides parents with a viable option to support their child's education. By understanding the program's details, eligibility requirements, and repayment options, you can make an informed decision about whether this financing option aligns with your financial goals.

Remember, it's essential to carefully consider your financial situation and discuss your options with your child and other family members. By doing so, you can navigate the world of higher education financing with confidence and ensure a bright and successful future for your child.

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