Student Loan Info for Parents

Parents typically need to know where to find student loan information to help pay for their child’s higher education. Student loans are loans awarded to students with financial assistance to pay for college. Federal student loans are issued by the government and must be repaid in-full, plus interest. Student loans can be in the name of the college student, or in the name of the legal parent or guardian who wishes to fund their child’s education.

Student Loan Info and Types

The three most common student loans are the Federal Stafford, Federal Perkins, and Federal Parent PLUS. Federal Stafford and Perkins loans are borrowed by the college student, whereas Federal Parent PLUS loans are borrowed parents on behalf of their child. For all three student loans, applicants must fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to determine eligibility. Each program includes its own distinguishing criteria:

  • Federal Stafford – This is the most common college loan. Students begin repaying the loan’s interest six months after he or she graduates.
  • Federal Perkins – This loan program gives top priority to students with the greatest need for financial assistance. Perkins loans offer more flexible repayment regulations and no fees. Students begin to make principal payments nine months after graduation.
  • Federal Parent PLUS – This loan is borrowed by the parent on behalf of their child. Parents of independent students are ineligible. Loan repayment begins when the funds are awarded to the borrower.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Parent PLUS Loan

  • Can I consolidate my Parent PLUS loan? Yes, you can consolidate a Parent PLUS loan, but you are not allowed to roll your PLUS loan in with your child’s Stafford or Perkins loan.
  • Can a stepparent take out a Parent PLUS loan? Yes, as long as he or she is married to the child’s legal parent. Individuals who have legally adopted a child may also apply for a Parent PLUS loan.
  • What if I’m divorced? If parents are legally separated or divorced, FAFSA considers the parent to be the individual with whom the student resided more with during the past year.

Other Student Loan Info and Options for Parents

The Federal Parent PLUS loan is not the only option available for parents who wish to help pay for their child’s education. A parent may also consider a private student loan, where they can co-sign the loan for their child. Though the student is primarily responsible for repaying the loan, but the parent is responsible for unfulfilled or missed payments.

Another viable option for parents is a home equity loan. With this loan type, homeowners convert their home equity into cash that they can use to pay for student loans. Home equity loans generally have low interest rates. However, home equity loans can be expensive because of closing costs and fees at closing.

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