DEFINITION of 'PLUS Loan'

A low-cost student loan offered to parents of students currently enrolled in post-secondary undergraduate education. With a PLUS Loan, also known as a Direct PLUS loan, the parent borrows money on the student's behalf. To be eligible for a PLUS Loan, a student must be enrolled at least half-time, and the parent has to pass a standard credit check. Graduate and professional-degree students can take out PLUS loans on their own behalf.

BREAKING DOWN 'PLUS Loan'

The major benefit of a PLUS Loan is that the parent can borrow the entire amount the student needs for his or her education. This includes housing, tuition and other related expenses. The maximum available is "the cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial assistance received," according to the Federal Student Aid website. Another notable benefit is that the borrower does not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the loan.

For a parent PLUS loan, the student must be a dependent of the parent (biological, adoptive, or in some cases stepparent). Any student benefiting from a PLUS loan must be enrolled in a school that participates in the Federal Direct Student Loan Program.

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