Student Loans for Parents: Parent Plus Loans & Other Options

Nicolas Cesare  | 

College is the new high school, or so some employment experts say. Studies have shown that high school graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to workforce-age adults with a bachelor’s degree. In addition, college graduates bring home almost twice as much in earnings compared to members of the workforce who ended their educational pursuits after high school.

The numbers make it clear that a college education is almost necessary for a bright future — the sort of bright future that every parent wants for their children. So it’s no surprise that parents often push their children to go on to college, even though they may be burnt out from years of secondary education. Parents want to give their children all the help that they possibly can when it comes to having a bright future. However, as the cost of college is on the rise, that help is starting to include more than just words of encouragement.

More and more parents are looking for ways to help their children financially when it comes to the burden of college tuition. Sometimes this help takes the form of a college savings plan, but it can also include more immediately accessible financial resources such as student loans for parents.

Parent PLUS Loan

What is the PLUS Loan Program?

Direct PLUS Loans are a kind of unsubsidized loan available to students. PLUS loans will cover the cost of attendance (including tuition, rent, and textbooks) minus any other financial aid that the student is receiving. However, unlike some other student loans, a bad credit score can make it harder to be eligible for a Direct PLUS Loan. If your student has had some credit trouble in the past, or hasn’t had the time to build up a good credit score, it may be time to intervene and apply for a Parent PLUS Loan yourself.

Parent PLUS Loans are exactly like regular Direct PLUS Loans except for one major difference: they end up in your back account rather than in your student’s. This means that you can take out a Parent PLUS Loan in order to contribute some financial aid to your child’s education, even if you don’t necessarily have the money on hand to cover your child’s tuition.

How to Apply for Parent PLUS Loans

The first step to applying for financial aid is to fill out the FAFSA for your child. Once you’ve done this, your will become eligible for more specific forms of aid, such as Parent PLUS Loans. Once that FAFSA is complete, you can apply for Parent PLUS Loans through studentloans.gov. Keep in mind that once you have accepted a Parent PLUS Loan, you are responsible for the money borrowed. Even though your student will be using it, it’s still up to you to pay it back.

Sallie Mae Parent Loan

What is a Sallie Mae Parent Loan?

Sallie Mae also offers student loans for parents. These loans are designed to help parents contribute to their child’s education by paying expenses like tuition, textbooks, or room and board. Like many student loans, Sallie Mae Parent Loans are capped at the estimated cost of attendance for your child’s school. For these loans, there is a minimum amount of $1,000.

How to Apply for Sallie Mae Parent Loans

You can apply for a Sallie Mae Parent Loan through the online portal on Sallie Mae’s website. This portal will also help you compare loan options to find out which student loans can best help you contribute to your child’s education.

Private Student Loans

Banks offer loans that can cover just about anything, including a college education. If you’re not satisfied with the options that you’re getting from federal lenders, then you can contact your bank and ask about their private student loan offerings.

One good thing about private student loans is that they will take your credit score into consideration. So if you’ve been working on building your credit, you may find that you’re able to get a really good deal on a private student loan. On the flip side, however, private student loan default can be a lot worse than defaulting on your federal student loans, since banks are less willing to offer robust options like student loan rehab.

When it’s time for your kids to go to college, you don’t have to send them in alone. Even if you don’t have the financial resources to drop a lot of money on tuition and textbooks, you can still give your children financial support by taking out student loans for parents.


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Nick Cesare is a writer from Boise, ID. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing and making avocado toast.

This post was updated January 11, 2018. It was originally published January 13, 2018.