Aug 05, 2021 Jodi Anderson

What to Consider When Considering a Parent Loan to Help Fund Education Expenses

Parents have choices when it comes to borrowing for college. Outlined below are details for you to consider when researching parent loans, as not all parent loans are created equal. When considering your parent loan choices, consider the following for your family and financial situation as to which may be the right parent loan for you.

Federal PLUS Loan – Parent Loan for Undergraduate Student

The U.S. Department of Education offers Direct PLUS Loans to eligible parents through schools participating in the Direct Loan Program. Immediate repayment is required while student is attending school, unless a forbearance request is submitted and approved.
  • More flexibility for parents with adverse credit history
  • Deferment options available upon request
  • Maximum PLUS loan amount is the cost of attendance at the school your child will attend minus any other financial assistance your child receives.  Cost of attendance is determined by the school.
  • Eligible for Federal Consolidation Program
  • Fixed Interest Rate
  • Interest rates on PLUS Loans are often higher than Parent loans offered by state-based and private lenders
  • FASFA completion required
  • Loan fee of 4.228%.  The loan fee is a percentage of the loan amount and is proportionately deducted from each loan disbursement.
Note: Student has no obligation for repayment of PLUS loans.

State-Based and Private Parent Loans

There are alternatives to Federal Parent Loans. Parent loans are also offered through  state-based and private lenders.  Immediate repayment is typically required while student is attending school.
  • Traditionally more favorable interest rates
  • Both fixed and variable interest rate options are generally offered
  • No origination fees
  • Choice of repayment term lengths
  • Forbearance options (varies per lender)
  • Income based repayment may be available
  • More stringent credit criteria
  • Maximum loan amounts (varies per lender)
  • Not eligible for Federal Consolidation Program
Note: Student has no obligation for repayment of state-based or private parent loans.

Cosign a State-Based and/or Private Student Loan

A third option may be to cosign on a state-based or private lender student loan.  In this case, your student will have a shared obligation for the repayment of this loan.  These loans typically offer choices for immediate or deferred repayment  in addition to offering  lower interest rates than parent programs.
  • Immediate repayment student loans traditionally offer the most competitive, lowest rates
  • Deferred payment loans are an option, with payment beginning once the student leaves school
  • No origination fees
  • Choice of repayment term lengths
  • Income-Based Repayment may be available
  • Helps student to establish credit
  • Parent is obligated for repayment if the student cannot meet repayment terms.

In conclusion:

Shop around! Model the loan programs you find in a loan repayment calculator to see which program fits your budget and financial situation for you and your student. Of course, the goal is to borrow only what is needed and at the lowest rates with the most advantageous loan benefits.
If you would like more information about borrowing for college, download our free guide today.
 Download Borrowing Guide
To learn more about loan options (both student and parent), rates, benefits, and reward programs offered by RISLA, visit
Published by Jodi Anderson August 5, 2021