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Student Loans

Best Parent Student Loans

We conducted extensive research into every student loan lender (and we’ve been doing it for years). Our best overall recommendation right now is College Ave for parents to get a loan to help students pay for college.

Many parents love nothing more than to see their children receive a college education that can land them a great job. But with the cost of college continuing to climb, they might doubt their ability to pay for that education out of pocket.

Luckily, parents can consider taking out parent student loans through the Department of Education or private lenders. These loans require a strong personal credit history and will be taken out in the parent’s name.

To learn more, compare the federal and private student loans for parents below.

In this article:

What is a parent student loan?

A parent student loan is a loan that a parent or guardian can get to pay for education costs on behalf of an eligible student. Repayment of parent student loans is the responsibility of the borrower, not the student.

Students can agree to make payments toward parent loans but they’re not required to do so. The amount you can borrow with a parent loan depends on whether you’re seeking federal or private funding, the cost of attendance at the student’s school, and other amounts of financial aid received.

Compare parent student loans

Use the table below to help you select a loan that best fits your needs. Each of the options in the table are discussed in more detail further down the page.

LoanVariable rates (APR)Fixed rates (APR)Origination feeTerm lengths
Federal Parent PLUSN/A6.28%4.228%10 – 25 years
College Ave1.19% – 11.98%3.49% – 12.99%None5 – 15 years
Earnest0.94%11.44% 3.24%12.78%None5 – 15 years
SoFi6.32%13.13%6.50%13.98%None5, 7, 10, or 15 years
Rhode Island Student Loan AuthorityNone6.34%None5, 7, or 10 years

Federal Parent PLUS loan

If your child has already met federal loan limits or if you simply don’t want your child to have to take out loans in his or her name, you have the option of taking out a Parent PLUS Loan.

The federal PLUS Loan program allows parents to borrow money for undergraduate or graduate education. You can take 10 to 25 years to repay a parent PLUS Loan. The maximum amount you can borrow is the cost of attendance, as determined by the school, less any financial aid the student has already received. 

Private parent student loans can follow the same guidelines, but they don’t always. For example, you might be limited to borrowing $50,000 or $100,000, depending on the private lender. Repayment terms for private parent student loans may also be capped at 10 or 15 years.

To be eligible for a parent PLUS Loan, you must not have any adverse credit history (such as bankruptcies) and your child must be attending school at least half-time. Before applying for a Parent PLUS Loan, your child should fill out the FAFSA to see what other aid he or she is eligible for. The FAFSA isn’t required to apply for private parent student loans, though lenders will typically check your credit history and income.

Here are some additional key details about Parent PLUS Loans:

  • Fixed Rates (APR): 6.28%
  • Variable Rates (APR): Not offered
  • Origination fee: 4.228%
  • Soft credit check: Not available; hard credit check only
  • Repayment terms: 10 years (standard) or 25 years (graduated)
  • In-school repayment: Partial payments, full payments, full deferral
  • Grace period: 6 months after child leaves school

Best private student loans for parents

Parents also have the option to apply for private student loans. These loans are issued by private lenders and aren’t affiliated with any federal government education loan program. 

Private parent student loans could be a good option for parents who want to maintain control of the loan funds. Any money released for the loan will be sent right to the parent, not the child. But you’ll need a good credit score to take out private loans. If your credit isn’t great, you’ll have a higher interest rate.

But, it’s important to remember that private parent loans don’t enjoy the same protections as federal PLUS Loans. For example, Parent PLUS Loans that are consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness while private student loans are not. 

If you’re looking for those kinds of benefits, you may be better off reserving private parent student loans as a last-resort option. And if you do think you’ll need to take out private loans, it’s important to research the options carefully to find the right lender.

Best overall: College Ave parent student loan

Editorial Rating: 4.8 out of 5

  • You can choose your repayment plan and term
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees

College Ave is an online lender that offers different types of student loans, including parent loans. The Wilmington, Delaware-based company was founded in 2014 with the goal of offering a less complicated path to student borrowing. 

College Ave is notable for offering flexible repayment options that are designed to work for different parent budgets. Loans are available for parents, as well as grandparents, guardians, and other relatives such as aunts or uncles.

The College Ave Parent Student Loan is our highest-rated student loan for parents. Here is some more information about this loan:

  • Fixed APR: 3.49% – 12.99%
  • Variable APR: 1.19% – 11.98%
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 – 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • Repayment terms: 5 – 15 years
  • In-school repayment: Paying the interest each month is mandatory. After that, you can pay as much or as little as you want.
  • Grace period: None

Best grace period: Earnest

Editorial Rating: 4.8 out of 5

  • Payments can be deferred while the student is in school
  • Prequalify without impacting your credit score

Earnest is a San Francisco-based fintech lender that offers personal loans, credit cards, and student loans. The company offers parent student loans to borrowers who have good credit scores and aren’t carrying large amounts of non-mortgage debt.

While some private lenders require in-school repayment, Earnest allows parents to defer making payments while their student is attending school. You could make payments against the principal if you’d like to do so, but you won’t be penalized if you don’t. 

Parents also get a break in the form of a nine-month grace period after their student leaves school. Similar to the in-school deferment, no payment is due during the grace period.

Here is some more information about this loan:

  • Fixed APR: 3.24%12.78%
  • Variable APR: 0.94%11.44%
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 – 100% of the cost of attendance as determined by the school
  • Repayment terms: 5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years
  • In-school repayment: Full, interest-only, flat, or deferred
  • Grace period: 9 months
  • Unique benefits: Borrowers can qualify for a 0.25% autopay discount when they enroll in automatic payments. 

Best for career services: SoFi

Editorial Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Offers career services assistance
  • Check your eligibility without impacting your credit score

SoFi offers almost every type of financial product, including undergraduate, graduate, and parent student loans as well as student loan refinancing 

One of the features that sets SoFi apart from other lenders is its unique benefits. These benefits are only available to members and include career services, access to financial advisors, and other unique discounts.

Here are some other details about this loan:

  • Fixed APR: 3.20%11.99%
  • Variable APR: 1.30%11.52%
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 – 100% of school-certified costs of attendance
  • Repayment terms: 5, 7, 10, or 15 years
  • In-school repayment: Full or interest-only
  • Grace period: None
  • Unique benefits: Career services and a member discount

Best for Rhode Island students: RISLA

The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority offers a parent student loan that comes with benefits only available to Rhode Island students. These benefits include zero interest for up to four years on loans when a nurse works in Rhode Island and a $2,000 forgiveness reward when the student completes a three-credit internship.

Here are some other details about this loan:

  • Fixed APR: 3.20%
  • Variable APR: None
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 – $45,000
  • Repayment terms: 10 years
  • In-school repayment: Full
  • Grace period: None
  • Unique benefits: Zero interest for up to four years for nurses working in Rhode Island and a $2,000 forgiveness reward when a student completes a three-credit internship.

Steps to take before you apply for a parent student loan

If you are unsure what type of parent loan to take out, check out our Parent PLUS Loan vs private student loan guide, which explains which is likely better for you depending on your situation.

The first thing you’ll want to research for when looking into a parent student loan program is the interest rate. A lower rate will reduce the overall amount you’ll have to pay back in interest.

The second factor to consider are the repayment plans. Decide how long you’d like to make payments for and what your monthly payment will be, and then look for a loan that can meet those terms.

Lastly, consider if you want to make payments while in school or defer payments until after your child leaves school. While making payments right away can help save money, some parents might not be able to afford it immediately.

Once you select a company to borrow from, you’ll need to gather all of the necessary information to apply. This information may include, amongst other things:

  • Personal information: credit score, credit history, driver’s license, Social Security number
  • Employment information: proof of income, employer information, 1099 statements
  • Education information: school the child is attending, additional student aid, cost of attendance

>> Read More: Types of student loans

Repaying student loans as a parent

Parents have a variety of repayment options with the federal Parent PLUS loan and private parent student loans. Some options allow you to begin repaying the loan while your child is still in school. Other plans allow you to wait until they are out of school. You’ll want to consider those terms carefully to be sure to find the plan that works best for you.

After your child graduates, you can even refinance Parent PLUS loans in your child’s name. But, of course, this will only work if your child agrees to it, meets certain criteria, and if they can qualify for a loan on their own.

If you take a student loan out in your name, there is no way to force your child to refinance the loan payments in their name. However, many parents have found this funding source invaluable for protecting their child’s financial health while funding their education.