4 Top Student Loan Options for Parents in 2021

If you want to help your child pay for their college expenses, check out the four best federal and private student loan options for parents.

When it comes to paying for college, parents take on the majority of responsibility for the expense. A recent study found that parents covered 54% of college costs with their savings, income, and by taking out student loans. 

If you’ve decided to help your child pay for their college tuition and education-related expenses, you’re likely researching student loan options for parents. Depending on your credit, income, and how much you want to borrow, you can choose between federal and private student loans. 

1. Parent PLUS Loans



There is no borrower maximum

They have high interest rates

You’re eligible for federal loan benefits

They charge disbursement fees

You can postpone payments while the child is in school

A credit check required

For parents who want to borrow money for their child’s undergraduate education, the only federal loan option is a Parent PLUS Loan. PLUS Loans allow parents to borrow up to the total cost of attendance for their child’s program, and you can choose to defer your payments until after your child graduates or leaves school. 

Parent PLUS Loans are eligible for federal benefits like loan forbearance and deferment. While they aren’t eligible for income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, parents can consolidate their debt into Direct Consolidation Loans. Once the loans are consolidated, parent borrowers are eligible for income-contingent repayment. 

PLUS Loans have the highest interest rates and fees of all federal loans. The rates are fixed, and the default repayment term is 10 years. 

Loans disbursed on or after October 1, 2020 have a disbursement fee of 4.228%. Loans issued on or after July 1, 2021 and before June 30, 2022 have a 6.28% interest rate. 

Unlike other federal loans, Parent PLUS Loans do require credit checks. If you have an adverse credit history, such as having a past bankruptcy or foreclosure, you will need an endorser to qualify for a loan. 

2. Credible Parent Loans



You can get multiple rate quotes at once

Credible isn’t a direct lender

Credible has loan terms as long as 20 years

Customer service levels can vary

No origination fees

Some of its partner lenders aren’t available in all states

If you decide to explore private student loan options rather than federal loans, Credible is a useful tool. Credible isn’t a direct lender; instead, it’s a lender marketplace. You can submit your information and get rate quotes from multiple parent loan lenders at once. 

Every lender has its own terms and rates, but you can have up to 20 years to repay your loans, and none of the lenders charge origination fees. 

Because there are several different lenders, the level of customer service and responsiveness can vary by lender. 

When checking your options, keep in mind that some of Credible’s partner lenders have eligibility restrictions and aren’t available in all states. 

3. Earnest Parent Loans



There is no origination fee

Payments are required while the child is in school

Some borrowers will qualify for lower interest rates

Not everyone will qualify for the lowest rates

Repayment terms as long as 20 years

High minimum credit score

Earnest is a private student loan lender that offers loans specifically for parents and guardians. Unlike federal student loans, Earnest offers both fixed and variable interest rates, and borrowers with excellent credit may qualify for lower rates than they’d get with Parent PLUS Loans. 

Earnest’s loan terms range from five to 20 years, so you can pick a term that works for you. Plus, there’s no origination or disbursement fee. 

You are required to make payments while your child is in school, but you can opt to make full payments or only pay the monthly interest until your child graduates. 

To qualify for a parent loan, you will need a credit score of at least 650 and earn $35,000 per year or more. 

5 Things to Keep in Mind Before Taking out Parent Loans

If you’re overwhelmed by the different student loan options for parents, evaluate the following factors to help you make an informed decision: 

1. Credit requirements: Your credit score plays a big role in what loans you’re eligible for and what interest rates you can get. In general, private lenders only lend to borrowers with good to excellent credit. With federal Parent PLUS Loans, a credit check is required, but it’s less stringent. 

2. Maximum borrowing limit: Some private student loan lenders have limits on how much you can borrow per year or over your lifetime, but not all do. There are several lenders that allow you to borrow up to the school certified cost of attendance. If you’re considering Parent PLUS Loans, there is no maximum limit on how much you can borrow. 

3. Repayment options: Private lenders typically require parents to make payments while the child is still in school, but some lenders offer reduced or interest-only payment options until the child graduates. With Parent PLUS Loans, you can defer payments until after the child leaves school.  

4. Loan term: While Parent PLUS Loans have a default 10-year repayment term, private loan terms typically range from five to 20 years. While a longer loan term can be appealing because it will give you a lower monthly payment, you’ll also get a higher interest rate. To get a lower interest rate, choose the shortest term you can afford. 

5. Interest rates: Parent PLUS Loans have fixed interest rates. Private loans can have fixed or variable interest rates. While private loans often have lower rates than federal loans, those rates are usually only for borrowers with excellent credit. 

You can also use the parent loan calculator to compare the cost of Parent PLUS Loans to private loans. Once you’ve decided on the type of loan you want, you can use Juno to find the best rates on parent student loans

Juno can help you to find a student loan or refinance a loan at the most competitive possible rate. We get groups of buyers together and negotiate on their behalf with lenders to save them money on private student loans and private student loan refinance loans. 

Join Juno today to find out more about your options for affordable private student loans to help fund your degree.

Kat Tretina
Written By
Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, FL. She specializes in helping people finance their education and manage debt. Her work has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, MarketWatch, and many other publications.

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