How to Conquer the Parent PLUS Loan Application in 5 Steps

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The average college graduate walks away with over $37,000 in student loan debt. That loan balance can have a significant impact on graduates’ lives, making it difficult to afford the essentials or pursue their goals.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder parents want to help their children pay for school.

If you’re shopping for loans, Parent PLUS Loans are among the best options available. They have lower interest rates, more generous repayment terms, and more protections than private parent loans.

If you’ve decided a Parent PLUS Loan is right for you, here’s what you need to know to complete the application process.

Who is eligible for Parent PLUS Loans?

To be eligible for a Parent PLUS Loan, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be the biological or adoptive parent of the student.

  • Your child must be a dependent enrolled at least half time in an undergraduate program.

  • You can’t have an adverse credit history.

How to apply for Parent PLUS Loans in 5 steps

Once you’ve determined that you’re eligible for Parent PLUS Loans, you can complete the application process in five easy steps.

1. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

First, your child — or you on your child’s behalf — must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The government and schools use the FAFSA to determine your child’s eligibility for student aid.

Depending on your financial situation and family size, your child could qualify for grants, Direct Loans, and other forms of aid. Direct Loans can be more cost-effective than Parent PLUS Loans. They have lower interest rates, and the government pays the interest that accrues on Direct Subsidized Loans while your child is in school.

It’s a good idea to exhaust those options before moving forward with your Parent PLUS Loan application.

2. Figure out if you’ll need an endorser

If you have an adverse credit history, you won’t qualify for Parent PLUS Loans on your own. According to the Office of Federal Student Aid, you’re considered to have an adverse credit history if one of the following is true:

  • You have one or more forms of debt with an outstanding balance of $2,085 or more that are 90 days or more delinquent or have been placed in collections.

  • You have been subject to one or more of the following in the past five years:

    • Default determination

    • Discharge of debt in bankruptcy

    • Foreclosure

    • Repossession

    • Tax lien

    • Wage garnishment

    • Write-off of federal student aid debt

With an adverse credit history, you might be able to qualify for a loan if you have an endorser. An endorser — typically a friend or relative with stable income and good credit — acts as a guarantor on the loan. If you fall behind on your payments, the endorser is responsible for making them instead.

3. Fill out the Parent PLUS Loan application

To fill out the Parent PLUS Loan application, visit StudentLoans.gov and log in using your FSA ID. Once you’ve signed in, select the Direct PLUS Loan application for parents and click “start.”

The application will ask for your child’s name, address, phone number, and Social Security number. It also will ask for your employer information and mailing address.

Parent PLUS Loans

Image credit: StudentLoans.gov

Once you’ve completed the basic section, you’ll need to make decisions in the following four areas.

In-school deferment

The application will prompt you to decide if you’d like to request a deferment while your child is in school.

If you request a deferment, you won’t have to make payments as long as your child is enrolled at least half time. However, interest will continue to accrue while the loan is in deferment. If you decide not to opt for a deferment, payments will be due within 60 days of the last disbursal of the loan.

Parent PLUS Loans

Image credit: StudentLoans.gov

Grace period deferment

Next, the application will ask you if you’d like to defer loan payments for an additional six months after your child ceases to be enrolled at least half time.

Interest will continue to accrue during this six-month deferment, commonly known as a grace period. If you don’t select the six-month deferment, payments on the loan will be due within 60 days of your child no longer attending school at least half time.

Image credit: StudentLoans.gov

Credit balance option

The government will apply the Parent PLUS Loan to the student’s school account to cover the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board. If any money is left over, it will be credited to your account. You can choose to have the credit balance sent to you or your child.

Parent PLUS Loans

Image credit: StudentLoans.gov

Loan amount requested

You can request a certain amount you’d like to borrow, or you can request the maximum you’re eligible for as determined by the school.

Parent PLUS Loans

Image credit: StudentLoans.gov

4. If necessary, ask your endorser to complete the addendum

When you submit the application, the government will perform a credit check and deny or approve you based on that information. If you’re denied, you might be able to qualify for a loan with an endorser.

If you choose to use an endorser, they can complete the endorser addendum electronically or print and fill it out. If your endorser opts for a hard copy, ask them to mail it to the following address:

U.S. Department of Education

P.O. Box 9002

Niagara Falls, NY 14302

5. Complete the Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note

Once you’ve finished the application, you must complete the Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN). The MPN covers the terms and conditions of the loan and is a legally binding agreement between you and the government that you will repay the loan.

You can complete the MPN online.

Financing your child’s education

When you consider your financing options for your child’s schooling, Parent PLUS Loans are often the best choice.

However, if you have great credit, private student loans might offer lower interest rates than federal loans. It’s a good idea to research and compare rates from private student loan lenders to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Need a student loan?

Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
LenderRates (APR)Eligibility 

1 = Citizens Disclaimer.

2 = CollegeAve Autopay Disclaimer: All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.

3 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
4.12% – 11.85%*3Undergraduate and GraduateVisit SallieMae
3.69%
12.07%
2
Undergraduate, Graduate, and ParentsVisit CollegeAve
4.07%
12.19%
1
Undergraduate, Graduate, and ParentsVisit Citizens
3.83% – 12.11%Undergraduate and GraduateVisit Ascent
4.63% – 9.71%Undergraduate and GraduateVisit LendKey
3.62%
9.79%
Undergraduate, Graduate, and ParentsVisit CommonBond
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. 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 understand what you are buying, and consult 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. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.