Direct Plus Loans, aka parent PLUS loans, which allow parents to sign up for federal student debt on behalf of their child, can be a beast. They’re tied up in societal expectations (parents should take care of their child’s every need, and kids are required to get a college education). You also can’t discharge them through bankruptcy.
The smart move is to help your parents with their parent PLUS loans—without putting the debt in your name.
Why should you avoid putting these loans in your name? There’s no way to simply transfer the parent PLUS loan to your name; you’d have to refinance it into a private loan. You want to avoid this, because not only are rates getting as high as you did in college, but you’ll lose the federal perks of the loan.
Here’s what you can do instead, depending on your situation:
- Consolidate. Consolidation can help your parents qualify for an income-contingent repayment (ICR) plan or Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
- Rehabilitate. If your parents have defaulted, rehabilitation can get them back on track.
- Send regular payments to your parents. Note that you’re NOT legally obligated to pay this debt. While the loans paid for your education, they’re your parents’ responsibility. But if you’re in a good financial spot, i.e., you’re investing for retirement, you’re saving for short term goals, and you don’t have high interest debt, you could lend your parents a hand.