Student Loan Options for Parents

One of the most challenging aspects of college is figuring out how to pay for it. For many students and their parents, student loans may be required to cover any outstanding school charges. With so many student loan options, a parent might wonder which student loan is the best choice. Here’s a look at some of the options available.

Federal Direct PLUS Loans for parents

With the Federal Direct PLUS Loan program, a parent can take out a loan for the benefit of the student. The maximum amount a parent can borrow is the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received. Unlike some private student loans, Federal Direct PLUS Loans charge an origination fee (which is a percentage of the amount borrowed). So if your tuition bill is $10,000, you will want to request $10,000 plus the amount needed for the origination fee to cover the balance.

As a parent borrowing through the Federal Direct PLUS Loan program, repayment typically begins 60 days after the full amount of the loan is paid out. You may request to have payments deferred while your child is enrolled at least half-time and for the 6 months after your child ceases to be enrolled. It is important to note that during the deferment period; interest will still accrue, increasing the total cost of the loan. The standard repayment length is ten years, but there are a number of repayment options.

Private student loans

With private student loans, the borrower is usually the student while a parent may apply as a co-signer on the loan. Some lenders also offer loan options for parents to borrow on the student’s behalf, like a PLUS Loan. Unlike the fixed interest rate of a Federal Direct PLUS Loan, which is the same for every borrower, private student loan interest rates are based on the borrower’s creditworthiness. Since most college students have a limited or nonexistent credit history, applying with a creditworthy co-signer can increase the chances of approval, and may offer a lower interest rate compared to what they would receive on their own. Private student loans vary depending on the lender, but many offer both fixed and variable interest rates. A variable interest rate means it can change over the life of the loan. While this variable rate may be initially lower than a Federal Direct PLUS Loan, it may increase over the life of the loan. Maximum loan amounts for private loans are usually higher than federal loans, but each lender has their own set limits.

Repayment options may vary by lender, but typically private student loans offer a few different choices, including interest-only payments (payments only on the interest while the student is enrolled in school at least half-time, and during the 6 months after leaving school), immediate repayment (full principal and interest payments beginning about 60 days after funds are disbursed), and full deferment (no payments while the student is enrolled in school at least half-time and 6 months after graduation). With any option, interest will continue to accrue until the loan is paid off.

With student loans, research and planning are the pillars to success. Whether you are a parent or a student, be sure to carefully evaluate all available options when preparing to take out a student loan. With more student loan options than other lenders and the expertise you need to create the optimal plan to pay for college – Citizens Bank can help!

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