The Federal PLUS Loan is a low cost federal loan that allows the parent or parents of a student to borrow the cost of undergraduate education. This includes all eligible school expenses such as tuition, room and board and books, just to name a few. If the student is receiving any financial aid in their own name, that money must first be applied to the college expenses and then the Federal Parent PLUS Loan can be borrowed and used to pay for the remaining expenses that aren’t covered by the financial aid that is in the student’s name.
To qualify the parent will need to pass a moderate credit check that will determine if the parent has any adverse credit. The student must be the biological or adopted child of the parents that are applying for the Federal PLUS Loan. Other family members that wish to help the student pay for college may qualify for private student loans. The student must be enrolled at least part time in college and be considered a dependent. The student must also maintain satisfactory academic progress. Both the parents and the student must be US Citizens or eligible non-citizens and the parent’s credit report must be free from any evidence of default, foreclosure, repossession, wage garnishments or write offs. There should be no debt that is 90 days or more delinquent or a debt that was discharged in a bankruptcy within the past 5 years. Approval of this loan is based on the parent’s credit history, not their credit score, allowing more parents to qualify. Parents that don’t meet the criteria can apply with a co-signer that does. If the parent doesn’t qualify for the Federal Parent PLUS Loan, the student may be able to borrow a Stafford Loan themselves to cover their expenses. Neither the student or the parent or parents can be in default status on any other federal education loans or owe an overpayment on an educational grant.
In order to qualify for a Federal Parent PLUS Loan, there are other eligibility requirements that must also be met. For some loans, the student and his/her parents must be able to demonstrate financial need. The student must also have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. The student must also be enrolled in or have been accepted for enrollment as a student working toward a degree or certificate.
For the Federal PLUS Loan, the parent must complete a loan application and a Master Promissory Note. The annual limit on a Federal Parent PLUS Loan is equal to the student’s cost of attendance minus any other financial aid that the student is eligible to receive. When the Federal Parent PLUS Loan is approved and ready to be disbursed, most often the monies will be sent directly to the school. It is typically disbursed in two installments each equal to half of the amount borrowed. The school then uses the money to pay the student’s tuition, fees, room and board. Any amount that is left over is sent to the parents via check or, if authorized by the parents, the balance will be given to the student. Any remaining funds must be used for the student’s education.
Repayment is expected on a Federal PLUS Loan after the loan has been fully disbursed unless the parent chooses to defer repayment. There are 3 repayment plans available – standard, extended, and graduated. These repayment plans are designed to meet the needs of the borrower. Although the terms for each vary, they generally offer 10 to 25 years to fully repay. If the parent has trouble in repaying the loan they may be eligible for a forbearance or deferment. The loan is the responsibility of the parent and can’t be transferred to the student.
Although not all schools will require that you fill out the FASFA forms, it’s recommended that you do so before you apply for the PLUS Loan. This loan is a Federal student loan and as such will need to be approved by the college or university’s financial aid office. If the college the student has applied to requires the FASFA for all students, then they will not certify the PLUS Loan without the FASFA on file. Filling out the FASFA is a good idea anyway because many students are eligible for more financial aid than they think. Filling out the FASFA will not impact your eligibility for the PLUS Loan because the loan is based on credit, not on need.
The interest rate on the loan is a fixed rate of 7.9% and begins accruing on the loan when it is disbursed to the school. If you set up an automatic debit from your bank account, you might receive a 0.25% reduction in the interest rate. If you’re a parent with more than one PLUS Loan set up and want to lower your monthly payment, you may want to consider consolidating all of the loans once the final disbursement is made for the academic year. Some of the other fees you should expect to pay on the Parent PLUS Loan include a 3% origination fee and a 1% federal default fee. These fees are deducted from the principal at the time of disbursement.
Brett Keller is a representative for Your College Loans Online. Your College Loans Online is the ultimate resource for college and student loans. If you are looking for information on applying for a federal parent plus loan or qualifying for college loan consolidation, visit us online today!
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