For parents who are looking to put their kids through college but can't provide them with the means to pay for it right then and there, there are other ways you can help your child pursue and finance their educational goals. Parent PLUS Loans are one of the best ways you can help your child if you aren't in the financial situation to simply pay for the tuition and books right off the bat. The great thing about the Parent PLUS Loan is it can be used for a number of different educationally related expenses, such as living expenses, room and board, books, and any other expense that can be justifiably associated with going to school. Other loans and grants don't allow this type of freedom but the reality is going to college is expensive and the tuition isn't the only reason why.
If you are truly in the dark about how to go about dealing with financial aid, your first stop should be the financial aid departments at the universities or colleges your child is interested in attending. These trained professionals will be able to help steer you in the right direction and tell you whether or not the Parent PLUS Loan is right for you.
The Parent PLUS Loan is only for parents who have dependent students. While there are other federal loans that can be taken out that aren't based on your credit score, the Parent PLUS Loan is not one of them. When you fill out the application, both your financial need and credit score will be taken into consideration. This is because the Parent PLUS Loan is supposed to be a way for you to finance your child's school in an affordable manner, with the idea that you will be paying it back in the future. If they were to hand out these loans to individuals who have a history of delinquent payments, they run the risk of losing money.
The Parent PLUS Loan does not have to be your first stop in your pursuit for financial assistance. Fill out the FAFSA form, which is available every January 1st, and see what financial aid package you qualify for. FAFSA will automatically look for federal, state, and university level financial aid, which means one application is all you need to fill out. Once you receive the results of your FAFSA and your child finds out whether or not they have received any other scholarships, loans, or grants, then you should look into applying for the Parent PLUS Loan to cover the rest of the expenses.
To qualify for the Parent PLUS Loan, you must be the child's biological or adoptive parent. In some cases, they will allow the stepparent to sign for the loan. The student must be enrolled half-time or more at an accredited academic institution that participates in the Direct Loan Program, the parent must have decent credit and have no history of delinquent payments, and both the student and parent must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens.