How to Apply for Parent PLUS Loans

Abigail Eun
Abigail Eun

Abigail Eun is a freelance writer and personal finance expert. Through diligent research and continuous learning, she has honed her knowledge in budgeting, saving, investing, and debt management. Abigail is passionate about helping people get their finances in order. She believes that everyone should have access to the information they need to make sound financial decisions. Her goal is to provide clear and concise information that is easy to understand.

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October 17, 2022

If you’re a parent looking for an alternative to private student loans, consider applying for Parent PLUS loans. Parent PLUS loans are a type of federal loan offered to parents of dependent college students. Known for varied repayment plans and strong borrower protection, they’re a great option to finance your child’s education.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to apply for Parent PLUS loans.

Complete the FAFSA

To determine whether you’re eligible for the Parent PLUS loan, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA checks your eligibility for not just Parent PLUS loans, but for general student financial aid. The application must be filled out annually if you want your child to be considered for federal aid. 

How to Complete the FAFSA

Each year, the FAFSA opens on October 1st and closes on June 30th. Experts recommend submitting the FAFSA as close to the opening date as possible. This is because some financial aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Make sure that filling out the FAFSA is a collaborative process with your student. It’s important that they understand how their education is being financed and how to navigate the FAFSA process.

To fill out the FAFSA, gather the following materials

  • You and your child’s social security card 
  • You and your child’s driver’s license (if applicable) 
  • Tax returns from two years prior
  • Untaxed income records from two years prior
  • W-2 forms from two years prior
  • Current bank statements

While you may know some of the above information by heart, never go off memory. It is crucial that your submission is accurate. Typically, it takes around an hour to complete, including time to double check your answers.

Around 4 to 6 weeks after submission, your student will receive their financial aid summary. The financial aid summary will detail what and how much aid your child qualifies for. It will also show whether you’re eligible to borrow Parent PLUS loans. 

Check Your Eligibility for the Parent PLUS Loan

Even if Parent PLUS loans are included in your child’s financial aid summary, you’ll need to apply again to re-check your eligibility.

You must meet the following requirements to be eligible for the Parent PLUS loan:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • Be the biological or adoptive parent (stepparents may be eligible in certain cases) of a dependent college student who is enrolled at least half-time at a qualifying institution.
  • Have a decent credit history or add an endorser (also known as a cosigner) to the loan. 
  • Have not defaulted on previous federal loans.

Unlike some other forms of aid, you do not need to demonstrate financial need in order to be eligible for a Parent PLUS loan

Determine How Much to Borrow

The maximum amount you can borrow in Parent PLUS loans is the total cost of attendance (COA) minus any financial aid received.

ExampleCost of AttendanceFinancial Aid ReceivedParent PLUS Loan Borrowing Limit

The COA and borrowing limits are determined by your student’s institution. Contact the school’s financial aid office to address any questions that you may have on Parent PLUS loans, to determine your borrowing limit, and to clarify any application processes.  

How Much Should You Really Borrow in Parent PLUS Loans?

A good rule of thumb when it comes to determining the amount of money you should borrow is to borrow the least amount of money possible to cover your child’s cost of attendance. The more you borrow, the more you will end up paying. Parent PLUS loans have relatively higher interest rates than most loans, and interest can capitalize very quickly. 

Complete the Application

Most schools will require you to submit your Parent PLUS loan application through the Federal Student Aid website, though certain schools may have their own application processes. To begin the application, create your own Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. Your FSA ID will be used to log in and out of your account.

Gather the following materials to complete the application:

Borrower InformationStudent InformationEmployment InformationAcademic InformationLoan Details

Social Security Number (SSN)

Date of Birth

Citizenship Status

Phone Number

Email Address

Mailing Address
Student’s Name

Social Security Number (SSN)

Date of Birth

Phone Number

Mailing Address
Employer Name

Employer Address

Employer Contact Information
The name of your student’s institution

Address of your student’s institution

School year that you want to pay for
Type of loan

Amount of money you intend to borrow

After submitting the application, an automatic credit check will incur. If you have a qualifying credit score, the page will refresh to a confirmation page. Then, the institution will review your application to determine your eligibility.

If you do not have a qualifying credit score, the Parent PLUS loan application will not go through. Fret not if this is the case for you – you can either add an endorser to the loan or complete the PLUS Credit Counseling module.

Sign the Master Promissory Note

If you are approved by your student’s institution for a Parent PLUS loan, the last step you will need to take is signing the Master Promissory Note (MPN). Keep in mind that you must sign into your personal FSA account and complete the MPN in one sitting. 

The Master Promissory Note is a legal contract that outlines the repayment terms of the loan. By signing, you agree to repay your loan, including any accrued interest and fees. To complete the MPN, you’ll need to provide the same information from the Parent PLUS loan application, as well as the names and contact information of two references.

After signing, you’re done. The loans will be disbursed to your student’s institution in a few weeks.

Note: You can borrow additional federal loans of the same type without having to sign multiple MPNs — MPNs last up to 10 years. 

FAQs About Applying for a Parent PLUS Loan

How long does it take to be approved for a Parent PLUS loan?

It may take several weeks for your Parent PLUS loan to be approved. Contact your student’s institution if you have not received any communication for an extended period of time. 

What is the deadline to apply for a Parent PLUS loan?

The deadline for applying for a Parent PLUS loan is June 30th, when the FAFSA closes. 

Why would a Parent PLUS loan be denied?

A Parent PLUS loan could be denied for the following reasons:

  • Adverse credit history
  • Recent bankruptcies
  • Debt delinquencies
  • Tax liens
  • Wage garnishment

Closing Thoughts From the Nest

Before applying for a Parent PLUS loan, be sure to explore all loan options so you can be confident a Parent PLUS loan is truly the best option for you. Oftentimes, private loans offer more competitive interest rates, which would save you money in the long run.

If you want an easy way to see all of the private loans you qualify for, consider submitting a free application with Sparrow today.

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