As a parent, you might have taken out parent PLUS loans to help your children with their education. But as you’re getting closer to retirement age and managing multiple financial priorities, you might start to wonder how to refinance parent PLUS loans to lessen the burden of repayment.
Parent PLUS loans carried a 7.08% interest rate for the 2019-2020 academic year, which is on the higher end for federal student loans and can make it difficult to get ahead on principal payments. But if you transfer parent PLUS loans to the student, you could pass on the responsibility of paying back these loans to your child.
Keep reading to learn more about how to refinance parent PLUS loans in your child’s name and whether it’s right for you.
How to refinance parent PLUS loans in the student’s name
Parent PLUS loans are made directly to parents for their child’s education. The way things are set up now through the Department of Education, parents cannot transfer these federal loans to a child, and they are solely responsible for paying back the loan.
But there’s a way to get around this: refinancing parent PLUS loans in your child’s name. To refinance parent PLUS loans, your child must apply and be approved for the loan through a private student loan lender. They would have to supply information about their credit score, school and degree.
Each lender will have varying eligibility requirements, but typically, lenders want the child to prove they have the financial means to pay back the loan themselves.
SoFi, Laurel Road and CommonBond consider information such as income, school and type of degree. To qualify, your child must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Dan Macklin, a co-founder of student loan refinancing company SoFi, noted similar eligibility requirements.
“SoFi will take into account several factors, such as (the applicant’s) eligibility, education, career experience, monthly income relative to expenses and financial history in determining whether to refinance a parent PLUS into a loan in the graduate’s name,” Macklin said.
To refinance and transfer the parent PLUS loans to your child, follow these three steps:
- Ask your child to apply for a student loan in their name with a lender like SoFi, Laurel Road or CommonBond. You can help your child complete the application, but the lender may approve or reject it based on their information alone.
- Include the parent PLUS loan on the refinancing application and note that it is under your name.
- If approved, the lender will issue your child a new loan, which can be used to pay off your parent PLUS loan.
The new loan may have different terms and conditions, and potentially a lower interest rate, as well. Unlike the parent PLUS loan, the new loan will be entirely in your child’s name.
“Transferring a loan from parent to child absolves parents from the debt obligation and enables the child to select the appropriate loan terms,” Macklin said. “The child may be able to reduce monthly payments on the outstanding debt, as some parent PLUS loans have rates as high as 8.50%. It also enables the parent to refocus their own goals, such as saving for retirement.”
Review the benefits of refinancing parent PLUS loans
There are many benefits to refinancing parent PLUS loans, including:
If you refinance parent PLUS loans and pass on the responsibility to your child, they could stand to save money on interest. Also, they could take advantage of the unique benefits offered by some lenders, such as unemployment protection, career services and networking events.
Consider the drawbacks of refinancing parent PLUS loans
Before you decide to refinance your federal parent PLUS loans, there are some downsides you should also be aware of, including:
- By refinancing with a private lender, you’ll lose federal student loan benefits, such as access to income-driven repayment options and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
- The legal liability for the loans will be transferred to the child, as the parent PLUS loans will be paid off, and your child will now have to repay the new loan.
- The process is not reversible.
If you want to refinance parent PLUS loans, you and your child should be on the same page. Both you and your child should understand the financial and legal implications of refinancing and also have a firm grasp of what you may be giving up.
Explore other options for immediate relief
Even if you know how to refinance parent PLUS loans in your child’s name, you might decide this move isn’t right for you and your family, especially if you’re relying on federal benefits. Fortunately, you have a couple of other options for managing your parent PLUS loan.
For one, you could explore an Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan, which adjusts your monthly payments in accordance with your discretionary income. Note that you’ll have to consolidate your parent PLUS loans before they’re eligible for ICR.
Another option is loan forgiveness through a program such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness. If your job makes you eligible for PSLF or a similar program, you could get some or all of your balance canceled. Some employers even offer student loan repayment assistance to help indebted employees.
While none of these options will get rid of your debt overnight, they could provide relief. And if you do decide to refinance your parent PLUS loans in your child’s name, you could say goodbye to your debt for good.
Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.
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