Parent Plus Loans Interest Rate: Understanding, Comparing & Choosing

Parent Plus Loans Interest Rate: Understanding, Comparing & Choosing

Did you know that the interest rate for Parent PLUS loans is fixed at a staggering 6.28% for the 2021-2022 academic year? This crucial detail impacts thousands of families navigating the complexities of financing higher education. Understanding how interest and variable rates affect your financial future, parent loans, and loan funds is paramount in making informed decisions about funding your dependent student’s college journey. Dive into this post to unravel essential insights on managing Parent PLUS loans and optimizing your financial strategies for educational expenses.

Understanding Parent PLUS Loans


Parent PLUS loans are federal loans that parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for college expenses. These loans can cover the gap between other financial aid received and the total cost of attendance.

Parent PLUS loans allow parents to finance their child’s education without requiring collateral. The loan is in the parent’s name, offering flexibility in repayment plans.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for a Parent PLUS loan, applicants must be the biological or adoptive parents (or, in some cases, stepparents) of a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program at a participating school. The student must also meet satisfactory academic progress requirements.

Credit checks are conducted during the application process, but no specific credit score requirement exists. However, applicants should not have an adverse credit history, such as bankruptcy or foreclosure, within the past five years.

Application Process

Applying for a Parent PLUS loan involves submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and completing a separate Direct PLUS Loan Application on Parents must also sign a Master Promissory Note agreeing to the loan’s terms and conditions.

After approval, funds are disbursed directly to the school to cover tuition, fees, room and board, and other authorized charges. Repayment typically begins once total disbursement is made unless deferred while the student is enrolled at least half-time.

Comparing Parent PLUS and Private Student Loans

Interest Rates

Parent PLUS loans have a fixed interest rate of 7.08% for the 2021-2022 academic year, making them higher than federal student loans. On the other hand, private student loans‘ interest rates vary based on creditworthiness, often ranging from 3% to 14% APR.

Private student loans generally offer lower interest rates than Parent PLUS loans due to their variable nature and dependence on credit scores.

Borrowing Limits

Parent PLUS loan borrowing limits are determined by the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received. In contrast, private student loan limits are set by individual lenders and can sometimes cover up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance.

Private student loans may provide more flexibility in borrowing limits than Parent PLUS loans, which have stricter regulations.

Repayment Options

Parent PLUS loan repayment options include standard repayment plans and income-contingent repayment plans. Private student loan repayment options vary by lender but commonly include immediate repayment after disbursement or deferred payments until after graduation.

Private student loans often offer more diverse repayment options tailored to individual needs than Parent PLUS loans’ limited choices.

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Interest Rates of Parent PLUS Loans

Determining Factors

Parent PLUS loan interest rates are determined by adding a fixed percentage to the 10-year Treasury note rate. This calculation results in variable rates that may change annually.

When applying for a Parent PLUS loan, borrowers should know that the interest rate assigned to their loan can vary depending on the year it is disbursed. The interest rates are set each year on July 1st and remain fixed for the life of that particular loan.

Current Rates

Parent PLUS loans have an interest rate of 6.28% for the 2021-2022 academic year. It’s essential for parents considering these loans to stay updated on current rates as they might fluctuate yearly based on economic conditions.

Parents opting for Parent PLUS loans also have the option to request an interest rate reduction by setting up automatic payments through their servicer. This can lead to a reduction of up to 0.25 percentage points, helping save money over time.

Factors Influencing Parent PLUS Loan Rates

Credit Score

Credit score plays a crucial role in determining the interest rates of Parent PLUS loans. Borrowers with excellent credit are likelier to secure lower rates than those with average or poor credit scores.

Federal Government Role

The federal government sets the interest rates for Parent PLUS loans, both fixed and variable. These rates fluctuate annually based on market conditions, impacting borrowers’ repayment amounts.

Rate Fluctuations

Borrowers should know that these loans come with fixed or variable rates. While fixed rates remain constant throughout the loan term, variable rates can increase over time, potentially leading to higher overall costs.

Federal Parent PLUS Loan Mechanics

Terms and Conditions

Parent PLUS loans are federal loans that parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for college. These loans have a fixed interest rate set by Congress annually, currently at 6.28% (for the 2021-2022 academic year). The loan amount can cover up to the total cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received.

Repayment Options

Repayment for Parent PLUS loans typically begins within 60 days after the total loan amount is disbursed. Parents can defer payments while their child is in school at least half-time, with some choosing to make interest-only payments during this period. Standard repayment plans range from 10 to 25 years, with available income-driven options.

Forgiveness and Discharge Programs

Parents who work in public service may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) after making 120 qualifying payments. If the borrower becomes permanently disabled or passes away, the loan may be discharged. However, meeting specific criteria and providing the necessary documentation for these programs is essential.

Private Parent Student Loans Explained


Private parent student loans differ from federal Parent PLUS loans because they are offered by private lenders instead of the government. These loans often require a credit check and may have higher interest rates than federal ones.

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Eligibility Criteria Parents or guardians typically need a good credit score and stable income. Some lenders may also consider the student’s academic performance and chosen school when determining eligibility.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Advantages:

    • Flexibility in loan terms, such as customizable repayment plans

    • Potentially lower interest rates for those with excellent credit scores

  • Disadvantages:

    • Lack of borrower protections like those offered by federal loans

    • Limited options for loan forgiveness compared to federal programs

When considering private parent student loans, it is crucial for parents to carefully weigh the benefits against the potential drawbacks before deciding on financing their child’s education.

Choosing the Right Parent Student Loan

Evaluating Options

When considering parent student loans, it is crucial to compare various lenders and their terms. Consider factors like interest rates, repayment options, and fees.

One way to evaluate is by checking each lender’s eligibility requirements. Some may require a specific credit score or income level from the borrower.

Importance of Interest Rates

Interest rates significantly affect the total amount you’ll repay over time. Lower interest rates mean less money paid back in the long run.

It’s essential to note that federal parent PLUS loans have fixed interest rates, while private lenders may offer fixed and variable rate options.

Federal vs. Private Loans

Deciding between federal and private parent student loans depends on several factors. Federal loans offer benefits like income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness options.

On the other hand, private loans might have lower interest rates for creditworthy applicants but may lack flexible repayment plans available with federal loans.

Consider your financial situation, future earning potential, and overall borrowing needs when choosing between these two types of parent student loans.

Loan Repayment Implications for Parents

Financial Strain

Due to high-interest rates and substantial loan amounts, parent PLUS loans can put parents under significant financial strain. Balancing loan payments alongside daily expenses can be challenging.

Parents must carefully consider repayment options to avoid defaulting on Parent PLUS loans, which could negatively impact their credit scores. Seeking loan deferment or income-driven repayment plans may provide temporary relief.

Credit Score Impact

Defaulting on Parent PLUS loans can have severe consequences, including a significant drop in parents’ credit scores. This could hinder their ability to secure future loans or mortgages at favourable rates.

To manage Parent PLUS loan repayments effectively, parents should create a budget that prioritizes loan payments and explore opportunities for refinancing or consolidating their loans for potentially lower interest rates.

The Bottom Line on Parent Loans

Key Points

Parent PLUS loans are federal loans available to parents of dependent undergraduate students to help cover educational expenses. The interest rate for Parent PLUS loans is fixed at 6.28%, which is higher than the interest rate for other federal student loans.

Parents can borrow up to the total cost of attendance minus any other financial aid the student receives. Loan funds from a Parent PLUS loan can be used for various education-related expenses, including tuition, room and board, books, and other school supplies.

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Before taking out a Parent PLUS loan, parents should explore all options for financial aid, scholarships, grants, and even private student loans with potentially lower interest rates. Considering the total loan cost over time and how it will impact your finances in the long run is crucial.

Parents should ensure they understand the repayment terms, including payments, grace periods after graduation or leaving school, and available repayment plans. Utilizing features like autopay can help save money on interest over time.


For more information on Parent PLUS loans and other financial aid options, parents can visit the official Federal Student Aid website or consult their child’s college office of financial assistance for personalized guidance.

Final Remarks

You now have a comprehensive understanding of Parent PLUS loans and how they compare to private student loans. By exploring interest rates, loan mechanics, and repayment implications, you can better make informed decisions when choosing the right parent student loan. Remember that the choice between federal Parent PLUS loans and private options depends on various factors like eligibility, interest rates, and repayment terms. Ensure you weigh these factors carefully before committing to a loan to secure your child’s education.

Conduct thorough research and seek advice from financial aid professionals if needed. Your child’s future is crucial, so take the time to assess all options diligently. Stay informed and proactive in managing your finances to effectively support your child’s educational journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the current interest rate for Parent PLUS loans?

The federal government fixes parent PLUS loan interest rates annually. As of 2021, the rate for Parent PLUS loans is 6.28%. However, checking the official Federal Student Aid website for the most recent updates is advisable.

Can any factors influence the interest rates of Parent PLUS loans?

Several factors can impact Parent PLUS loan rates, including market conditions and economic indicators. Credit history may play a role in determining the final interest rate offered to borrowers by lenders.

How do Federal Parent PLUS loans differ from private parent student loans?

The government issues Federal Parent PLUS loans and has fixed interest rates set by Congress. On the other hand, private parent student loans are offered by banks or financial institutions with varying interest rates based on creditworthiness and market conditions.

How should parents choose between a Federal Parent PLUS loan and a private parent student loan?

Parents should consider factors such as interest rates, repayment terms, borrower protections, and eligibility criteria when choosing between these two types of loans. Federal options typically offer more benefits like income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs.

What are some key considerations regarding loan repayment implications for parents taking out student loans?

Parents must assess their financial situation carefully before borrowing, as they will be responsible for repaying these loans. Understanding monthly payments, total repayment amounts, potential deferment options, and impact on retirement savings is crucial when considering parent student loans.

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