2021 NerdWallet Best-of Awards Winner for Best Student Loan Refinancing Overall
2021 NerdWallet Best-of Awards Winner for Best Student Loan Refinancing Overall


How to Save Money on Parent PLUS Loan Debt

Ben Luthi
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Helping a child out by paying for college can be an important goal for many parents, but if you don’t have enough income or savings to do it, you may end up turning to Parent PLUS Loans to get the funding you need.

But once you start making payments, Parent PLUS Loans can be a little overwhelming. If you can, consider refinancing them to save money and potentially even pay off what you owe early.

How refinancing Parent PLUS Loans can save you money

Parent PLUS Loans are the most expensive loans offered by the U.S. Department of Education, which means you can expect a higher monthly payment and more interest charges than your child would have if they were to apply for undergraduate student loans.

If you already have the loans, though, refinancing may be the best way to save money. This is primarily because many private lenders offer lower interest rates than the federal government provides.

If your credit score is in excellent shape and you have a relatively high income, you have a good chance of getting approved for better terms than what you currently have.

For example, let’s say you took out $10,000 in loans during the 2019-20 school year when the Parent PLUS Loan interest rate was 7.08%. With the Standard Repayment Plan of 10 years, your monthly payment for those loans would be $117, and you’d pay $3,983 in interest over your repayment schedule.

However, if you managed to refinance the loans with a private lender at 4% with the same repayment term, your monthly payment and total interest charges would drop to $101 and $1,833, respectively.

Those savings over 10 years may not seem like a lot, but it’s better to have the money in your pocket than your loan servicer’s. Plus, the more debt you have, the greater the savings potential.

So if you’re wondering how to pay off Parent PLUS Loans with as little cash outlay as possible, refinancing is one of the best options available.

Why refinance rates are currently at historic lows

The coronavirus pandemic has hammered the U.S. economy, and in response, the Federal Reserve cut its federal funds interest rate to near zero in March. This is the rate that banks charge each other to lend money overnight to maintain cash reserves.

In turn, banks use the savings from the lower rate to reduce interest rates on their loans. That includes student loans, auto loans, personal loans, credit cards and more.

The federal funds rate has never been this low, which means that student loan refinancing interest rates have also fallen to historic lows.

In other words, if you’re thinking about refinancing your Parent PLUS Loans at some point, now may be the best time to pull the trigger.

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How to refinance Parent PLUS Loans

Refinancing any type of loan can seem daunting, especially if you haven’t had a lot of experience in the past. If you’re wondering how to refinance Parent PLUS Loans, here are the steps you can take:

  1. Gather information about your loans: When you apply to refinance, you’ll need to provide information about your existing loans, including the amounts and your current loan servicer.
  2. Shop around: The best way to find the lowest interest rate possible is to shop around and compare offers from multiple lenders. Private student loan companies typically allow you to get prequalified on their websites before you apply, but this process can take a while if you’re going through it with each individual lender. To save time, use the Purefy rate comparison tool, which allows you to view loan offers from multiple lenders in one place.
  3. Compare offers: Once you have some offers to compare, take a look at more than just the interest rates. You’ll also want to consider repayment terms and other features each lender provides to its customers. In some cases, it may make sense to opt for a shorter or longer repayment term, depending on your budget.
  4. Submit your application: Once you’ve decided on a lender, you can click through the Compare Rates tool to fill out an application directly with the financial institution. You’ll likely need to provide some documentation to prove your income, and the lender will run a hard credit inquiry to determine your creditworthiness. If you’re approved, you’ll be able to view the final offer from the lender and choose whether or not to accept it. If you accept, the lender will pay off the loan directly on your behalf.

One thing to keep in mind in all this is that refinancing Parent PLUS Loans with a private lender will cause you to lose access to certain benefits. For example, Parent PLUS Loan borrowers can take advantage of the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan, which can reduce your monthly payment to a fraction of your discretionary income.

Also, some private lenders may not offer as generous terms with deferment and forbearance as the federal government. You also won’t qualify for student loan forgiveness programs.

If you don’t need any of those, however, you can proceed with refinancing without concern.

Should I refinance Parent PLUS Loans?

In your quest to learn how to pay off Parent PLUS Loans and save money along the way, refinancing your debt may have the biggest positive impact of anything you can try. Before you apply, though, make sure you won’t need any benefits the Department of Education provides, and shop around to find out if the loan offers are better than what you have now.

Then consider what your goals are. As previously mentioned, you can choose a shorter or longer repayment term than what you have now. A shorter term will result in higher payments but will allow you to pay off the debt faster.

In contrast, a longer term will reduce your monthly payments to make them more affordable but will result in more total interest costs.

Regardless of whether you choose to refinance and how you plan it, the important thing is that you take proactive steps to address your debt. Now that you know how to refinance Parent PLUS Loans and the pros and cons of doing so, you’ll be in a better position to make the best choice for you.

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Student Loan Refinance Interest Rates

Hit a Historical Low

Today’s refinance rates are lower than ever, but that won’t last long. Lock in a historic low rate before they rise again.

Student Loan Refinance Interest Rates

Hit a Historical Low

Today’s refinance rates are lower than ever, but that won’t last long. Lock in a historic low rate before they rise again.