What is 'PLUS Loan'

A PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) loan is a federal student loan available to graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students. Typically 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 must pass a standard credit check. Graduate and professional degree students enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school and working towards a graduate or professional degree can also apply for PLUS loans for their own academic studies.

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/her education. This includes housing, tuition, books, and other related expenses. The maximum available is "the cost of attendance (determined by the school) less any other financial assistance received," according to the Federal Student Aid website. Another notable benefit is that the borrower does not have to demonstrate a 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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