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What Are Plus Student Loans?

College expenses are high; there is little argument over that. Students and parents of students often need financial help in order to get into and subsequently get through the years of education that leads to an advanced degree. Thankfully, there is a somewhat new student loan program available that help out with these costs.

The Federal Parent PLUS Loans can help those parents with good credit histories to borrow money. This money can be used to help pay the education expenses of their children. Each student-child must be a dependent undergraduate student enrolled in an approved university or college, for at least half time in order to qualify for the loan.

The most useful benefit of the PLUS Loan is that parents can borrow federally guaranteed, low-interest student loans in order to pay for the child's college education. Unlike many other loans, the PLUS Loan program lets parents borrow the total cost of undergraduate education to include tuition, supplies, room and board, books, lab expenses, and even some travel costs.

Also, unlike many other student loans that are based on "need", these loans are non-need based. Eligibility is dependent on a regular credit check that determines whether the parent has an adverse credit history.

An adverse credit history is defined as being more than 90 days late on any debt or having any Title IV debt (including a debt due to grant overpayment) within the past five years subjected to default determination, bankruptcy discharge, foreclosure, repossession, tax lien, wage garnishment, or write-off.

The college of choice may require additional loan applications. For this reason, parents should check with your school's financial aid office.

As of July 1, 2006, the interest rate on the PLUS Loan was set at 8.5 percent. The PLUS loans do not require any collateral to be placed by the parents. In addition, the interest that is paid on the loan may be tax deductible. It should be noted that the interest rate on these loans can and will vary over time, so parents should investigate the latest news concerning interest rates before assuming any posted rate is correct.

There are some restrictions on the PLUS loans. For instance, the annual limit on a PLUS Loan is equal to your cost of attendance, minus any other financial aid that is received from other programs. For example, if the annual cost of attendance to a school is $8,000 and the student will receive $5,000 in other financial aid, the parents of the student would be able to borrow up to, but no more than, $3,000.

There are also certain restrictions and requirements concerning the way the funds are to be disbursed. Much of the disbursement rules that apply to a particular loan will be directed by the particular school. In order to get the most recent issues concerning how the money will be sent and to whom it will be sent, parents and students should visit with the financial aid office of the intended university.

Students and parents who wish to learn more about this loan program can visit the PLUS loan website where more detailed information is located.

Submitted by:

Peter Kenny


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