Student Loans

What Does Plus Loan Stand For

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 23 minute read

With the rising cost of higher education, few students can afford to cover tuition and living expenses without taking out student loans. The Urban Institute reports that 70% of people with a bachelor’s degree are carrying student loan debt.

Center for American Progress data shows that although only 15% of undergraduates continue their education with graduate work, they accrue 40% of all student debt in the US each year.

Many Americans find that their savings and investments, such as 529 plans, aren’t enough to afford the high expense of higher education. There will be a need for student loans until tuition-free higher education becomes widespread.

If you need more money than what you can get from federal direct loans, federal direct parent and grad PLUS loans are available. Yet, it’s wise to do some research on the specifics of the loan before committing to it.

What Does PLUS Loan Stand For?

Loans for graduate or professional school that are guaranteed by the federal government and made available via the U.S. Department of Education are called federal direct PLUS loans (ED). Graduate and professional students can use it immediately, and so can the parents of undergraduates.

In the past, PLUS meant “parent loan for undergraduate students.” It was designed to assist families pay for their children’s college expenses. These PLUS loans used to be available only to parents, but currently both undergraduate and postgraduate students can apply for them.

Graduate PLUS loans were introduced as part of a change to the parent PLUS loan program on July 1, 2006. Thus, the nomenclature has kept the same, even though participation in the program is now open to families of all college students. Both PLUS loan types have similar characteristics regardless of whose name is on the loan.

PLUS Loans do not have a borrowing limit.

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Loan Program (PLUS) is designed to help students who need additional funding beyond what they may get in grants, scholarships, and other types of federal student aid. Undergraduates who have borrowed as much as they may through federal direct loans typically look to private lenders for additional funding.

Direct loans from the ED are available to undergraduates at the annual rate of $5,500 to $12,500, depending on the student’s dependency status and the length of time they have been in school.

The maximum annual loan amount for graduate students is $20,500. Still, it isn’t usually enough to pay the whole price of tuition.

Inconveniently, everyone knows that college is expensive. And it’s not just about the cost of college. For this reason, there are PLUS loans. It is possible to borrow up to the cost of attendance (as determined by your institution) with a PLUS loan.

What constitutes the “cost of attendance” at your institution is the sum total of all fees and tuition. All the money you’ll need to pay for college, including tuition, fees, books, housing, food, transportation, a computer, and study abroad programs. Also included may be costs associated with accommodating students with disabilities or caring for students’ dependents.

You can borrow up to that annual maximum from a PLUS loan, less any other financial help you’re getting. To put it another way, the sum of your loans cannot exceed the sum of your grants, scholarships, and Direct Loans minus the entire cost of your education.

In addition, there is no maximum amount that may be borrowed with a PLUS loan. You can take out as many PLUS loans as you need throughout the course of your lifetime, but each loan is restricted to the cost of attendance for one academic year.

But there are limits on government direct loans. Borrowing caps are set at $57,500 for undergraduates and $138,500 for graduates.

Unsubsidized PLUS Loans

Unsubsidized federal PLUS loans are available. Therefore, interest will start to accumulate once the money has been sent (paid out to you). During deferral periods, the ED pays the interest on subsidized loans. Deferment during enrollment is included.

Thus, no interest will be charged on any subsidized direct loans while the borrower is enrolled in school at least half-time while the loans are under deferral. However, all of your unsubsidized loans will incur interest.

This means that the student’s loan debt will increase over time, eventually exceeding the initial loan sum.

As an extra bonus, if you choose to defer payments throughout school, the interest will be capitalized (added to the principal balance) when the loan enters repayment, which happens either after graduation or when the student (you or your kid) quits school or drops below half-time attendance.

It’s important to remember that no interest has been accruing on any government loans, subsidized or otherwise, throughout the COVID-19 relief period, which lasts through September 30, 2021.

The fixed interest rates for PLUS loans are higher.

PLUS loan interest rates are the same for both parents and graduates, and they are higher than direct loan interest rates. The rate is set annually by Congress and is based on the results of the most recent auction for 10-year Treasury Notes. The charge is set by Congress and is equal to the high yield on a 10-year Treasury Note plus 4.6%. Interest rates on PLUS loans are capped by the government at 10.5%.

Annually, on the first day of July, the interest rates are established. The interest rate for PLUS loans will be 6.28% for the academic year that begins on July 1, 2021, and ends on July 1, 2022.

Direct loans, on the other hand, offer far lower interest rates, at 3.73% for undergraduate borrowers and 5.28% for graduate students.

The interest rate for PLUS loans is set for the duration of the loan. That means you’ll have to pay interest at the rate in effect in the year you took out the loan.

PLUS Loans Have Origination Fees

The expenses associated with federal student loans extend beyond interest rates. Origination costs are also required. When a loan is disbursed, the origination charge is deducted as a certain percentage.

The origination charge for a PLUS loan is significantly more than the fee for a direct loan. The charge, like interest rates, is set annually as part of the government budget process, but it runs from October to the following October.

From October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021, the cost for PLUS loans will be 4.228%. For loans disbursed between October 1, 2021, and September 30, 2022, the fee will remain the same.

That means you’ll get $9,577.20 if you borrow $10,000. On the other hand, you must still pay back the whole $10,000 with interest. Bear in mind that tuition is often split into two payments at most colleges (one each semester). Each distribution receives a share of the charge.

Parent PLUS Loans

Parents of undergraduate dependent students can borrow as much as they need over and beyond what they can afford under the Parent PLUS loan program. Unique among student loans, parents rather than students are held liable for repayment of parent PLUS loans.

Parent PLUS Loan Eligibility Requirements

There are requirements that must be met before a parent may apply for a PLUS loan.

  • You Should Have Kids Already A parent PLUS loan can only be taken out by the student’s biological, adoptive, or stepparents (while they are still married to the student’s biological parent). No one who is legally accountable for the student, a grandparent or legal guardian cannot apply for a PLUS loan on their behalf.
  • Your Youngster Must Be Enrolled in College. Parent PLUS loans are not available for graduate or professional students. But the graduate PLUS loan option allows them to borrow on their own behalf. Indeed, it’s an improvement. Advantages of the graduate PLUS loan are greater.
  • Half-time attendance at a qualifying school is required. In order for your kid to receive financial help, he or she must be enrolled in and making substantial progress toward a recognized academic credential.
  • The Possession of a Negative Credit Record Is Not Permitted. A federal student loan does not require a high credit score for approval. You don’t need anything more than a clean credit record. That includes any debts of more than $2,085 that are 90 days or more overdue, any defaults, bankruptcies, repossessions, foreclosures, wage garnishments, tax liens, or federal student assistance charge-offs within the last five years, as determined by the ED.
  • You Should Be Able to Receive Federal Financial Aid. You must be a citizen or eligible noncitizen of the United States, and have a valid Social Security number, in order to qualify for a federal loan.

How to Use

You may apply for a parent PLUS loan by contacting the financial aid office at your child’s school or by searching for information about the loan on the school’s website.

The financial aid office is responsible for administering the federal PLUS loan, which means they will review your application and decide how much money you may borrow. This is how things usually go:

  1. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and submit it. Your youngster has to fill out the FAFSA on the ED’s Federal Student Aid website if they haven’t previously. Each year, in October, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is made accessible, and the deadline to submit it is the following June 30th, before the upcoming school year.
  2. Get a Parent PLUS Loan by filling out an application. Get a parent PLUS loan by registering for Federal Student Aid and filling out the necessary paperwork. It requires details about you and your kid such as the name of the school, your address and Social Security numbers, and your dates of birth, as well as your financial information such as your most recent tax return, records of any untaxed income, and bank balances. The amount of your requested loan will also be requested.
  3. Get a Good Credit Score. The Executive Director will do a credit check. There are no prerequisites, such as a certain income level or credit history. However, a poor credit score is not acceptable. If so, you’ll need to find an endorser (the ED’s equivalent of a co-signer) with good credit who is willing to take responsibility for the loan in your absence. You may also submit supporting paperwork that details the events that led to the negative background check.
  4. Put your signature on a Master Promissory Note. You are committing to repaying the loan in accordance with the terms and circumstances set out in the master promissory note if you sign it. Due to its 10-year validity period, you need only sign it once for the majority of your borrowing needs.
  5. You need to reapply every year. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Parent PLUS Loan application both need to be resubmitted each year. This is due to the fact that your data may undergo changes from one year to the next. It’s possible that the overall price of attending your institution might change from one year to the next. Further, federal student loans are only available for a single academic year at a time. However, if your situation hasn’t changed much from one year to the next, you may simply carry over your data to the renewal form without any hassle.

Loan Disbursement

Funds from a PLUS loan are sent directly to the school from the ED. After that, the college’s financial aid office will use the funds to pay for the student’s outstanding amount, which may include things like tuition, fees, and room and board.

Within 14 days, the school will return the parent any unused monies. Alternately, parents may permit the institution to send any remaining PLUS loan monies back to the student for use in any way they see fit, including the purchase of required course materials. PLUS loans, like most other types of student loans, are normally disbursed in two equal payments, one at the beginning of each semester.

Options for Repayment

Parent PLUS loans are not eligible for a deferment or grace period after graduation or dropping below half-time enrollment, unlike federal direct student loans. They are not eligible for in-school deferral either.

The loan disbursement triggers immediate repayment by the parents. However, when applying for a parent PLUS loan, you have the option of requesting a deferral and a six-month grace period. Keep in mind that from the moment the loan is given, interest begins accruing and will be capitalized once the debt is under repayment. Options for paying back parent PLUS loans include:

  • The Regular Payment Schedule. A term of ten years is typical for making payments. However, the payback time can be extended for as long as 30 years if you consolidate your debts. That’s one strategy for bringing the regular installment down to a more bearable level. The cost of the borrowing, however, increases dramatically when interest compounds over a longer time frame.
  • Plan of increasing payments. Similarly, if you choose to combine your debt, you can extend the repayment period from 10 to 30 years under the graded repayment plan. Your initial payments are minimal but will gradually climb every two years.
  • Payment Extension Program. Borrowers with a direct loan balance of $30,000 or more are eligible for the extended plan. Your loan payments might be set or graded over a 25-year period.
  • Income-Based Repayment. An income-based repayment plan is an option for those who need it when paying back parent PLUS loans (IDR). Payments under these schemes might be spread out over a longer period of time based on a person’s income and number of dependents. In contrast, income-contingent repayment is available exclusively for Parent PLUS Loans taken out via the plan (ICR). In addition, a federal direct consolidation loan is required to qualify.
  • Forgiveness. After 25 years of payments on an IDR plan or 10 years of payments under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, the outstanding balance of a Parent PLUS loan may be forgiven. Full-time employment in a publicly-recognized service field is required for PSLF loan forgiveness. Keep in mind that the parent who is actually performing the public service that PSLF is meant to reward must be the one with the PLUS loan in order to receive forgiveness.
  • Receipt of a Release and Cancellation. Death of either the parent or the student for whom the loan was taken out will result in the loan being forgiven in its entirety. If the parent borrower becomes fully and permanently handicapped, then the loans may also be discharged. They are also qualified for the other types of loan cancellations such as the closed school discharge, the fraudulent certification discharge, the bankruptcy discharge, the unpaid refund discharge, and the borrower defense to repayment.

Is a Parent PLUS Loan a Good Option for You?

While it’s great that parents have the option of taking out federal student loans to help pay for their child’s tuition, fees, and living expenses, a PLUS loan isn’t right for everyone.

Private student loans are an option if your financial assistance needs exceed what the government can provide, but they come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Pros

As opposed to a private student loan, a parent PLUS loan offers a number of benefits.

  1. Plus Loans are More Easily Granted than Other Student Loans. Private lenders, unlike the ED, consider your credit history, income, and debt-to-income ratio before deciding whether or not to provide you a loan. Private lenders, on the other hand, have stricter requirements and consider more than simply the lack of negative information when determining whether or not to lend to you.
  2. Your interest rate is not based on your credit score. If your credit is less than perfect, getting a private loan may be difficult, and you certainly won’t receive the best rates. However, the interest rates for PLUS loans are set by federal law and not by your credit score.
  3. There are options for postponement and forbearance. When compared to federal loan programs, private loan companies do not provide as many options for postponement and forbearance, such as deferment while attending school and deferment due to financial difficulty. Although these choices are made available by several loan providers, the typical term length is much shorter, clocking in at only 12 or 24 months.
  4. There are several different ways that parents can repay their PLUS loans. The ED, unlike any private lender, provides a wide range of repayment alternatives, including IDR. Even with PSLF, no private lender will cancel your debt.
  5. Safeguards for Borrowers Exist. Borrowers do not have the same cancellation and discharge alternatives with private lenders. If the student you borrowed the money for passes away or becomes totally and permanently incapacitated, most private lenders will not forgive the remaining balance on your student loan.

Cons

Although PLUS loans have many benefits, private student loans may be preferable in some scenarios. There are additional situations in which you should try to avoid taking out a loan.

  1. Rates of interest are rather high when compared to those of the federal government’s Direct Loan program. The interest rate on a parent PLUS loan for the 2021-22 school year is 2.55 percentage points more than the rate on a direct loan for undergraduates. If your credit is good enough, a private lending firm may be willing to lend you money for school at a rate not much higher than the difference.
  2. This loan has very high origination fees. When the ED issues a direct loan, it deducts a charge of 1.057%. That’s in sharp contrast to the parent PLUS loan’s origination charge of 4.228%.
  3. There are fewer IDR options for Parent PLUS Loans than there are for Direct Loans. Parent PLUS borrowers may only access the least attractive IDR plan at this time, despite the fact that PLUS borrowers have more repayment alternatives than borrowers of private loans. This is because there is no interest subsidy, making your monthly payment more than what your child would pay with direct loans.
  4. Interest Accumulates Over Time. Your loan’s unpaid interest will be added to the principal balance whenever your kid graduates or drops below half-time attendance, if you chose to postpone payments throughout their stay in school. As a result, your balance will increase and you’ll start accruing interest on interest. If you sign up for IDR, capitalization will occur once every year as well.
  5. You can be making loan payments far into your golden years. To be eligible for debt forgiveness, you’ll need to be in payments for 25 years, which is especially true if you choose to participate in income-driven repayment (IDR). If you take out loans to pay for your children’s education, you may still be making payments on those debts long after you’ve retired. That’s one of the numerous reasons why certain people shouldn’t use IDR.

In Conclusion

Considering the high interest rates associated with PLUS loans, it may be worthwhile to compare prices from several private lenders if you have great credit. You’ll save money in the long run by taking out a loan with a lower interest rate.

To evaluate private loan providers, try a comparing service such as Credible. To find pre qualified deals, it does a soft credit inquiry that won’t negatively impact your score. Your loan will cost much less if you are able to secure a far lower interest rate than is now being charged on parent PLUS loans.

However, if your credit isn’t great and you believe you might require the forgiving terms of the ED loan, then you should stay with the parent PLUS loan. Remember that the debt is ultimately your responsibility. Informal agreements are possible, but legally, you cannot transfer ownership to your child.

Moreover, it is not helpful to yourself or anybody else if you have to go into debt to pay for your children’s education. Be wary about taking on too much debt.

Never take out a loan that is higher than your yearly salary. You should be able to repay your PLUS loan in 10 years or fewer if the total amount you owe is less than your annual income.

Graduate PLUS Loans

Graduate PLUS loans function similarly to their parent PLUS loan counterparts. Borrowing is permitted up to the cost of attendance minus additional financial help for graduate and professional students.

The primary distinction is that the student, rather than the parent, takes on the role of borrower. For one thing, the ED assumes that all graduate students can support themselves.
However, there are some significant distinctions.

As an example, after taking on their own borrowing responsibilities, graduate students can combine their Graduate PLUS loans with other federal student loans, such as their undergraduate loans.

Furthermore, graduate PLUS loan borrowers can choose from a wider range of repayment programs.

Grad Plus Loan Eligibility Requirements

There are requirements to complete in order to qualify for a graduate PLUS loan.

  • If you are not a graduate or professional student, then you are not eligible to apply. You need to be in graduate school or a professional degree program (such as law or medicine).
  • You Need to Be a Part-Time Student at a Qualifying Institution. You must be pursuing a graduate or professional degree or certificate at a recognized institution, and you must be enrolled in school at least half-time. Students who are writing a thesis or dissertation are also eligible for PLUS loans since the hours they earn can be applied toward their degree.
  • The Possession of a Negative Credit Record Is Not Permitted. There can be no late payments or collections on your credit record totaling more than $2,085, no defaults, bankruptcies, repossessions, foreclosures, wage garnishments, tax liens, or federal student assistance charge-offs during the past five years.
  • You Should Be Able to Receive Federal Financial Aid. You must be a U.S. citizen or qualified noncitizen and have a valid Social Security number to qualify for a government loan.

How to Use

Inquire about graduate PLUS loans from your school’s financial aid office or look them up online. The financial assistance office is in charge of processing applications for the federal PLUS loan and deciding how much each student is eligible to borrow. The usual procedure entails the following steps:

  1. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and submit it. Your first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the Department of Education’s (ED) website. Your eligibility for federal help including grants, scholarships, federal direct loans, and the grad PLUS loan is determined by the information you provide on the FAFSA.
  2. Get a Grad PLUS Loan by filling out an application. Apply for a PLUS loan as a graduate student today. Your name, the name of your school, your residence, your Social Security number, your driver’s license number, your date of birth, and your bank account details are all requested. You should also have your most recent tax return, documentation of any income that was not taxed, and a record of your current financial assets on hand.
  3. Get a Good Credit Score. A credit check will be performed by the ED. You don’t need a certain income level or even very strong credit, but you also can’t have a history of negative credit. If so, you’ll need to apply alongside someone who has good credit to guarantee repayment of the loan in the event you don’t — the ED calls this person a “endorser.” You can appeal a loan refusal by providing documents outlining the reasons for the unfavorable history if you cannot find a co-signer who is prepared to take the risk of co-signing or if you choose not to utilize a co-signer.
  4. Put your signature on a Master Promissory Note. There is a master promissory note that must be signed before any loan may be made. Due to its 10-year validity period, you need only sign it once for the majority of your borrowing needs. You’ll also have to go through an orientation session with a counselor.
  5. You need to reapply every year. Each year, you’ll need to fill out a new FAFSA and apply for a new PLUS loan.

Loan Disbursement

Your school will be the first recipient of your PLUS loan money, and they will use it to pay for your tuition, fees, and living expenses. The remaining amount, if any, is refunded to you by the school within 14 days.

The ED won’t keep tabs on your student loan repayments after the money has reached your hands. It may be used for anything you need, such as tuition or rent. PLUS loans, like other federal loans, are normally issued in two payments, one every semester.

Options for Repayment

Graduate PLUS loans can be deferred without any action on the borrower’s part while they are still enrolled in school, unlike parent PLUS loans. You won’t have to worry about paying payments as long as you keep your enrollment status at least half-time. No action on your part is required; the loan servicer will do this automatically. They are aware of your academic status.

In most cases, student loans commence repayment when a borrower graduates or drops below half-time attendance. However, before you have to start making payments on the loan, you get a six-month grace period. Once you begin making payments, you have the following choices:

  • The Regular Payment Schedule. Although the consolidation feature allows for payments to be spread out over a longer period of time (up to 30 years), the basic plan only allows for 10 years.
  • Plan of increasing payments. In order to repay your debt over a longer period of time (10 years), this plan will allow you to make lesser payments initially and then raise them every two years.
  • Payment Extension Program. Direct loan borrowers with balances exceeding $30,000 have the option of making fixed or graduated payments over 25 years to completely repay their debts.
  • Income-Based Repayment. All four of the income-driven repayment (IDR) options are accessible to borrowers with Grad PLUS loans. In this way, if you find yourself in need of IDR, you may select the option that best suits your specific requirements.
  • Forgiveness. Grad PLUS loans are eligible to have the remaining debt forgiven after making 20 to 25 years of payments on an IDR plan or 10 years of payments under PSLF.
  • Receipt of a Release and Cancellation. In the event of the borrower’s death, total and permanent incapacity, the closure of the borrower’s school, an overdue return, or a misrepresentation of the borrower’s financial status, the PLUS loan will be cancelled and discharged. Alternatively, you can file for bankruptcy or use borrower defense to repayment to try to get out of paying the debt.

Is a Grad PLUS Loan a Good Option for You?

An advanced degree is even more expensive to pursue than an undergraduate one, despite the widespread belief that the former is prohibitively expensive. The prospect of a high-paying profession in the fields of law, medicine, or business might entice some people to spend the time and money on graduate school.

However, 2019 data from the Pew Research Center shows that graduate students are the most likely to have six-figure student loan debt.

Even while PLUS loans are a great option for students who need to borrow the whole amount of their education from the federal government, this isn’t always the case. Before putting pen to paper, it’s wise to weigh all of the benefits and drawbacks.

Pros

Grad PLUS loans are a great option if you’re nervous about taking for a private loan, your only other option for paying for school.

  1. Interest rates on Grad PLUS Loans might be more favorable for most borrowers. If your credit is less than stellar, it’s unlikely that a private lender will extend you a loan with terms any more favorable than those of a graduate PLUS loan. However, it doesn’t hurt to check with many lenders to see what interest rate you could be offered.
  2. Payment Options Are More Open to You Now. Grad PLUS loans can be repaid under any IDR plan, while parent PLUS loans can’t. Thus, if you need to make a repayment in IDR, you may select the option that works best for you. These adaptable repayment options are unavailable on private loans, save for very restricted delay and forbearance.
  3. The Choice to Cancel Your Loan Exists. Graduate students have a far higher propensity to have large loan loads in relation to their income and so have a greater need for loan forgiveness programs. Those in public service are highly qualified for PSLF. Many health care and teaching careers, as well as public defender law, pay so little that it would take decades to recoup the cost of a postgraduate degree. That is precisely why we created PSLF.

Cons

Interest rates on Grad PLUS Loans might be more favorable for most borrowers. If your credit is less than stellar, it’s unlikely that a private lender will extend you a loan with terms any more favorable than those of a graduate PLUS loan. However, it doesn’t hurt to check with many lenders to see what interest rate you could be offered.

Payment Options Are More Open to You Now. Grad PLUS loans can be repaid under any IDR plan, while parent PLUS loans can’t. Thus, if you need to make a repayment in IDR, you may select the option that works best for you. These adaptable repayment options are unavailable on private loans, save for very restricted delay and forbearance.

The Choice to Cancel Your Loan Exists. Graduate students have a far higher propensity to have large loan loads in relation to their income and so have a greater need for loan forgiveness programs. Those in public service are highly qualified for PSLF. Many health care and teaching careers, as well as public defender law, pay so little that it would take decades to recoup the cost of a postgraduate degree. That is precisely why we created PSLF.

  1. Interest rates are higher than those offered by the federal government. Graduate students should expect to pay higher interest rates on federal loans than undergraduates. However, graduate PLUS loans are more expensive still. Compared to a direct loan, the interest rate on a grad PLUS loan is one full percentage point more in the upcoming 2021-22 school year.
  2. This loan has very high origination fees. When the ED issues a direct loan, it deducts a charge of 1.057%. However, graduate PLUS loans have a 4.228% origination charge. However, private lenders often don’t impose any sort of fee structure on their borrowers. However, origination costs are only paid once. To minimize total interest paid, you should focus on securing the lowest possible interest rate.
  3. Interest Accumulates Over Time. Once you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment, any unpaid interest will be added to your principal debt if you choose to defer payments while you were a student. You’ll end up with a larger amount and more interest charges. If you can, make interest-only payments on your student loan while you’re still in school.

In Conclusion

Even if your credit is perfect, it doesn’t harm to look about. If you’re looking to compare private student loan options, use a service like Credible. You won’t see any negative effects on your credit score from the “soft” credit inquiry used to find you the best prequalified offers.
Your graduate PLUS loan will cost much less if you are able to secure a far lower interest rate than what is now available.

One other option to think about is the private student loan market, where certain lenders focus on helping a specific demographic of students. Students pursuing careers in the healthcare industry can take advantage of Laurel Road’s low-interest student loans. You may choose how and when to make payments on their loans, and the interest rate will go down if you have a job.

One alternative is to seek out a private refinancing lender once you have graduated and are ready to begin paying back your student loans. Those with stellar credit histories might save money by refinancing rather than taking out a new loan.

If you have federal student loans and want to convert them into private loans, you will no longer have access to any of the government repayment plans or borrower safeguards. That includes being able to put off paying back your loans if you fall on hard times.

In addition, you will no longer qualify for loan forgiveness. You might not care, as not everyone qualifies for student loan forgiveness. Avoid private loans if you want to take advantage of debt forgiveness programs like PSLF.

Bottom Line

It’s important to know the terms of any loan you could take out before you sign any paperwork. Student loans are often viewed as an investment in one’s future by those in the finance industry.

But taking out too much debt may be a problem, and PLUS loans make it easier. There is no upper limit on how much may be borrowed in a lifetime, making it easy to borrow more than you need.

In contrast, the high rate of interest on PLUS loans can quickly lead to unmanageable levels of debt. Don’t let that be you by not exploring every possible avenue for covering your college expenses, including grants, scholarships, and savings. Also, if you must take out PLUS loans, be sure you don’t take out more money than you need.

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