The impact of burdensome student loan debt is not just felt by students. As I’ve written about recently, it is also felt by co-signers who are often relatives, spouses, or close friends of student borrowers. Perhaps the most burdened people, aside from students themselves, are parents.
Parent PLUS loans are federal student loans that are available to parents to pay for their child’s education. The parent, not the student, is the borrower, and the parent is solely responsible for the loan’s repayment. These loans are fairly easy to obtain, but we’re now seeing some negative consequences of these loans, largely for three reasons. First, these loans often have significantly higher interest rates than non-Parent federal loans. Second, Parent PLUS loans are completely ineligible for arguably the most favorable federal loan repayment plan, Income-Based Repayment. Third, parents often experience declining income as they near or enter retirement, making it even more difficult to repay these loans.
Last year, over $10.6 billion in Parent PLUS loans were lent to almost a million families. The numbers are just staggering. What this means is that we’re seeing an explosion of crippling student loan debt that is actually impacting parents of students, not just the students themselves. Suddenly retirement may no longer be a viable option for baby boomers who were just hoping to lend a helping hand to their children so they could get ahead in life. And of course, just like with any federal loan, if the parent ever defaults on this loan they are subject to theextraordinary collection powers of the federal government. This includes, frighteningly, the potential offset of critical social security income.
To read more about the growing Parent PLUS loan crisis, click here.