Ask a Hero: My Parents Can’t Get PLUS Loans Anymore — How Can I Pay for College?

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

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Dear Student Loan Hero,

My parents have been taking out PLUS loans to help pay for my college. But my school just told me that now that I’m 24, I cannot use PLUS loans for this academic year. I was unaware of this, and now I am stuck not knowing how to pay for my senior year. Obviously, getting a loan is my only option, but where do I start or what I should be looking out for?

Dear Student Loan Borrower,

I’m sorry to hear about this misunderstanding, but it’s never too late to find the funding you need for your senior year of college.

Unfortunately, yes, that funding won’t come in the form of a PLUS loan. PLUS loans are reserved for parents of dependent undergraduates (and graduate students). Any undergrad turning 24 before Dec. 31 of the school year becomes an independent student, at least in the eyes of the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office.

On the plus side, as an independent student with little income, you could also qualify for need-based aid, including grants and direct subsidized loans. Grants don’t need to be repaid in most circumstances, and subsidized loans don’t accrue interest while you’re enrolled or enjoying your postgraduate grace period.

Your new dependency status could also qualify you for additional non-need-based aid. The FSA, for example, allows independent upperclassmen to borrow more in direct unsubsidized loans ($12,500) than their dependent peers ($7,500).

To access this pool of aid, start by correcting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), noting your independent status this time around. If you’re skeptical that your aid package would change much, test out the FAFSA4caster tool.

Keep in touch with your campus financial aid office, too. You might learn about last-minute aid, such as school-offered scholarships and work-study opportunities.

If you’re still unable to cover your senior year’s cost of attendance, there are always private student loan options. Your mother or father could take one out for you, or you could ask them to cosign your application. About 9 out of 10 private student loan applications are cosigned, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Keep in mind that private loan interest rates are awarded based on you or your cosigner’s credit. They also don’t include many government-exclusive protections, such as access to income-driven repayment, mandatory forbearance and loan forgiveness. Ensure you and your family understand the ins and outs of private loans before signing on the dotted line.

Andrew P.
Student Loan Hero

Read more in the Ask a Hero series.

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Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

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2.84% – 10.97%1 Undergraduate
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3.12% – 10.54%2 Undergraduate
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2.90% – 11.16%5 Undergraduate
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