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8 Best Parent Loans for College: Parent PLUS and Private

Don’t take on debt for your child unless you’re in a strong financial position yourself.

NerdWallet
By
Last updated on July 13, 2023
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Des Toups
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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Best Parent Loans for College: Parent PLUS and Private

Lender
NerdWallet Rating
Min. credit score
Fixed APR
Variable APR
Learn more
Federal Parent PLUS Loan

Federal Parent PLUS Loan

Read review
Best for Federal loan option for parents

None

8.05-8.05%

N/A

College Ave Parent Student Loan

College Ave Parent Student Loan

Check rate
on College Ave's website
on College Ave's website
5.0
/5
Best for Private parent loans for college

Mid-600s

4.29-16.39%

5.59-16.85%

Check rate
on College Ave's website
on College Ave's website
SoFi Undergraduate Student Loan

SoFi Undergraduate Student Loan

5.0
/5
Best for Private parent loans for college

Mid-600s

4.19-14.30%

5.74-14.30%

Our pick for

Federal loan option for parents

Federal parent PLUS loans have fixed interest rates and minimal fees. Parent borrowers must not have any adverse credit history to qualify.

Federal Parent PLUS Loan
Read review
Federal Parent PLUS Loan

Federal Parent PLUS Loan

5.0
Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

8.05-8.05%

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Federal PLUS loans are available to parents of undergrads as well as graduate students. They are best for parents who may need the safety net they offer, and for grad students who have hit limits on lower-interest unsubsidized loans.

Pros
  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers compared with private lenders.
  • All borrowers who attend a school authorized to receive federal aid can qualify.
Cons
  • May have higher interest rates compared with private lenders.
  • You pay an origination fee.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify without a hard credit check.
Qualifications
  • Parent PLUS loan borrowers must not have adverse credit history.
  • Borrowers with adverse credit history can still receive a parent PLUS loan by enlisting a co-signer without adverse credit history or documenting extenuating circumstances for their credit history.
  • Loan amounts: Total cost of attendance minus other financial aid.
Available Term Lengths10 to 25 years once repayment begins, depending on the repayment plan.
Read Full Review

Our pick for

Private parent loans for college

Key factsBest for parents who want to control some of their student's spending.
Pros
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • You can choose your monthly payment while the student is in school, provided it covers at least the interest.
Cons
  • No co-signer option.
  • Estate is still responsible for the loan if the parent borrower dies.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Mid-700s.
  • Minimum income: $70,000 per year.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to school-certified cost of attendance.
Available Term LengthsBetween 5 and 15 years.
DisclaimerCollege Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC.. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000. Rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. If a payment is returned, you will lose this benefit. Variable rates may increase after consummation. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Flat Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.78% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 54 monthly payments of $25 while in school, followed by 96 monthly payments of $176.21 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $18,266.38. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 5/31/2024. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.
SoFi Undergraduate Student Loan

SoFi Undergraduate Student Loan

Min. credit score

Mid-600s

Fixed APR

4.19-14.30%

Variable APR

5.74-14.30%

Key factsBest for flexible repayment options and no fees.
Pros
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Multiple in-school repayment options available, including interest-only and flat-fee, and deferred for undergrad and grad students.
Cons
  • Does not offer bi-weekly payments via autopay.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 700+.
  • Minimum income: No minimum.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 minimum.
Available Term Lengths5, 7, 10 or 15 years
DisclaimerInterest Rates: Eligibility and Important Details. Fixed rates range from 4.19% APR to 14.30% APR with 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates range from 5.74% APR to 14.30% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates are capped at 17.95%. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 5/30/24 and are subject to change at any time. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term and type of repayment option you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer (if applicable) and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Check out our eligibility criteria at https://www.sofi.com/eligibility-criteria/. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30- day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. UNDERGRAD + GRADUATE + MBA/LAW SCHOOL LOANS: This repayment example is based on typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Partial Payment option with a 10-year repayment term, a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in a single disbursement, a 0.25% autopay discount, and a fixed rate between 8.52%-14.48% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”) (with autopay). It also assumes the borrower remains in school for 4 years and has a 6-month grace period (together, the deferment period) before the loan term begins. It works out to 54 monthly payments of $25 during the deferment period, followed by 120 monthly payments ranging from $124.09-$158.17 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments ranging from $14,891.12-$18,979.85. This repayment example assumes that the borrower is signed up for autopay and that all payments are made on time, with no pre-payments. HEALTH PROFESSION LOANS: This repayment example is based on typical loan terms for a first year borrower who selects the Partial Payment option with a 10-year repayment term, a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in a single disbursement, a 0.25% autopay discount, and a fixed rate between 8.52%-14.48% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”) (with autopay). It also assumes the borrower remains in school for 4 years and has a 9-month grace period (together, the deferment period) before the loan term begins. It works out to 57 monthly payments of $25 during the deferment period, followed by 120 monthly payments ranging from $124.09-$158.17 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments ranging from $14,891.12-$18,979.85. This repayment example assumes that the borrower is signed up for autopay and that all payments are made on time, with no pre-payments. PARENT LOANS: This repayment example is based on typical loan terms for a borrower who selects the Immediate Repayment option with a 10-year repayment term, a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in a single disbursement, a 0.25% autopay discount, and a fixed rate between 9.02-14.83% APR (with autopay). The Immediate Repayment option assumes full payment begins 1 month after full disbursement. It works out to 120 monthly payments ranging from $126.78-$160.30 for a total amount of payments ranging from $15,214.08-$19,235.46. This repayment example assumes that the borrower is signed up for autopay and that all payments are made on time, with no pre-payments. Actual rates may vary based on repayment type, loan amount, creditworthiness, and other terms and conditions. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.19% to 14.30% annual percentage rate ("APR") (with autopay), variable rates from 5.74% to 14.30%% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.74% to 14.10% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 5.74% to 14.10% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.74% to 13.65% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 5.74% to 13.65% APR (with autopay). HEALTH PROFESSION LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.74% to 14.00% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 5.74% to 14.00% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 6.25% to 14.48% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 6.07% to 14.48% APR (with autopay). For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 17.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 5/30/24. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Private Student loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. NMLS #696891 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
Brazos Parent Loan

Brazos Parent Loan

4.0
Min. credit score

720

Fixed APR

2.75-6.48%

Variable APR

4.99-8.89%

Key factsBrazos is best for parent loan borrowers who live in Texas and want to finance undergraduate or graduate education for their children.
Pros
  • Borrowers can finance undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
  • Students do not have to attend college in Texas to qualify.
Cons
  • Available only to parent borrowers in Texas.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: N/A
  • Minimum income: $60,000 for co-signer or primary borrower, or $30,000 for primary borrower if applying with a co-signer.
  • Loan amounts: $10,000 up to $400,000.
Available Term Lengths 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
DisclaimerRates as of 6/01/2023. Lowest variable rate assumes a current Thirty-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) of % plus a 2.03% margin minus the 0.25% Auto-Pay Discount. If approved for a Brazos loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the Brazos variable rate loan, the Thirty-day Average SOFR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. Auto-Pay Discount. The interest rate in effect will be reduced by 0.25% if either the borrower or the cosigner authorizes automated (ACH) payments from any bank account. This ACH interest rate reduction, referred to as the Auto-Pay Discount, applies only when full principal and interest payments are automatically drafted from a bank account. This interest rate reduction will not continue to apply during periods of approved forbearance or deferment. The Auto-Pay Discount will terminate if the automatic bank account payments discontinue or there are any three instances of insufficient funds at any time during the term of the loan. A borrower may requalify upon reauthorization of automatic payments from a valid bank account.This means that your payment may increase, or decrease, after disbursement. The variable rate is capped and will never exceed 9.90%. The rate is expressed as an APR. Since there are no fees associated with this loan, the APR is the same as the actual interest rate for the loan. While the APR, once you proceed, may differ slightly depending upon the calculation methods and certain assumptions, the base rate and margin that you are charged will remain as stated. Auto-Pay Discount includes a .25% interest rate reduction when either the borrower or cosigner authorizes ACH payments of full principal and interest from any bank account. Certain other terms and conditions apply.
Advantage Education Loan Parent Loan

Advantage Education Loan Parent Loan

Min. credit score

Does not disclose

Fixed APR

5.29-8.04%

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Advantage Education Loans are fixed-rate loans with borrower-friendly features, such as no late fees and a generous amount of forbearance. These loans are from the nonprofit Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corp. and are available outside Kentucky, but not in every state.

Pros
  • Forbearance of 24 months is twice as long as most lenders.
  • Loans are available for students enrolled less than half time.
Cons
  • Fewer repayment terms than other lenders offer.
  • Estate is still responsible for the loan if the parent borrower dies.
  • You can't see what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Does not disclose.
  • Minimum income: Does not disclose.
  • Loan amounts: Minimum $1,000. Maximum depends on creditworthiness and debt-to-income ratio.
Available Term Lengths10 years
RISLA Private Student Loan

RISLA Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

680

Fixed APR

4.05-8.64%

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Best for parents who want to reduce child's debt levels.

Pros
  • Income-based repayment plan available, with forgiveness after 25 years.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Partial loan forgiveness for eligible internships; interest forgiveness for qualifying nurses.
Cons
  • Fewer repayment terms available than other lenders.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 768.
  • Minimum income: $40,000.
  • Loan amounts: $1,500 to $45,000.
Available Term Lengths10 or 15 years
ISL Private Student Loan

ISL Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

660

Fixed APR

3.85-8.40%

Variable APR

5.59-10.71%

Key factsBest for low-interest loans with consumer-friendly features, like a generous forbearance policy.
Pros
  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer.
  • No late fees.
Cons
  • Only offers 2 loan terms.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 670.
  • Minimum income: No minimum income.
  • Loan amounts: $1,001 or $2,001, based on residency and school location, up to cost of attendance minus other aid received.
Available Term Lengths10 or 15
INvestED Student Loan
COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
INvestED Student Loan

INvestED Student Loan

Min. credit score

670

Fixed APR

4.37-8.08%

Variable APR

6.11-9.91%

Key factsBest for Indiana residents or students in the state with good grades.
Pros
  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer.
  • Interest rate reduction for autopay.
Cons
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • You must be an Indiana resident or attend a school in the state to qualify.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 710.
  • Minimum income: $39,996.
  • Loan amounts: $1,001 up to annual cost of attendance.
Available Term Lengths5, 10 or 15 years

Types of parent student loans

There are two types of loans available for parents: federal PLUS loans and private student loans.

Federal direct PLUS loans are government loans that parents can take out to help pay for a child's college education. They have higher interest rates and fees and qualify for fewer repayment plans than federal direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans for students.

The interest rate for federal direct PLUS loans is 8.05% for the 2023-24 academic year. There is also an origination fee of 4.228%, which is deducted from each loan disbursement.

Assuming your child has exhausted federal student loan options and your finances are sound, consider a parent PLUS loan if:

  • You work for the government or a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and want to pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

  • You won't have steady income for the duration of the loan term.

  • Your credit isn't strong enough to qualify for a lower rate with a private parent loan.

» MORE: Estimate monthly payments using a parent PLUS loan calculator

How to get a parent student loan

To apply for a PLUS loan, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid with your child. NerdWallet's FAFSA guide can help. Then, complete the direct PLUS loan application for parents.

You can apply for a private parent student loan directly with the lender.

Before signing up for a private parent loan, shop around to find the lowest student loan interest rate you qualify for. Some lenders have a pre-qualification process that allows you to see a personalized rate before the lender does a hard credit pull.

Who pays a parent student loan?

Make sure you and your child work out clear plans for repayment before taking out a parent student loan. The loan will ultimately be your responsibility to repay. The only way to transfer parent loans is to have your child refinance the loan with a private lender in their name.

Last updated on July 13, 2023

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Parent Loans for College: Parent PLUS and Private

  • Federal Parent PLUS Loan: Best for Federal loan option for parents
  • College Ave Parent Student Loan: Best for Private parent loans for college
  • SoFi Undergraduate Student Loan: Best for Private parent loans for college
  • Brazos Parent Loan: Best for Private parent loans for college
  • Advantage Education Loan Parent Loan: Best for Private parent loans for college
  • RISLA Private Student Loan: Best for Private parent loans for college
  • ISL Private Student Loan: Best for Private parent loans for college
  • INvestED Student Loan: Best for Private parent loans for college

Further reading

How to Read a Financial Aid Award Letter

By Devon Delfino and Anna Helhoski
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