Parent PLUS loan have only a few eligibility requirements:
- You need to be a parent of a qualified undergraduate student.
- You can’t have “adverse credit history.”
- You have to meet general federal aid requirements.
Here’s how to tell whether you’re eligible and what to do if you’re not.
Credit requirements for parent PLUS loans
Most federal student loans don’t require borrowers to have a credit history, but parent PLUS loans do.
To apply for a parent PLUS loan, you’ll undergo a credit check. It’s a hard inquiry, so applying will have a slight negative impact on your credit. There’s no credit score minimum required, but your credit report can’t show adverse credit history.
Before you apply, find out whether you have any negative line items on your credit report. You are entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian or TransUnion — or you can get a free credit report through NerdWallet.
On your report, look for anything that might show you have adverse credit history. This might include payments 90 days late, charged-off accounts, default, repossession, wage garnishment, tax liens and more.
Other eligibility requirements for a PLUS loan
In addition to the credit check, you must meet other requirements to get a parent PLUS loan. You must be the parent of a dependent undergraduate student who is enrolled at least half-time at an eligible Title IV college or career school.
Also, you and your child will need to meet general eligibility requirements for federal student aid, including having U.S. citizenship and a valid Social Security number.
What to do if you can’t meet requirements for a PLUS loan
If you do have adverse credit on your report, it won’t disqualify you entirely from a PLUS loan.
One option may be to get an endorser, which works similarly to having a co-signer for private student loans.
Another option may be to prove extenuating circumstances related to your adverse credit history. The final decision on your approval will be up to the U.S. Department of Education.
If you borrow a PLUS loan through either of these methods, you must also complete credit counseling on the federal student loan website.
If you can’t meet credit or other requirements for a PLUS loan, you may consider borrowing a parent loan privately. But if your credit is a problem, your interest rate might be higher than it would be for a parent PLUS loan.
How to apply for a PLUS loan
To get a PLUS loan, you or your child must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Then, you must ask the student’s school how to proceed. Most schools will require you to apply for PLUS loan on studentloans.gov.
You can borrow only up to the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid your child received.