07.02.08 | Private Loans vs. Parent Plus Loans
So, your child wants to go to that private University costing $45,000 per year and you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to pay for it.
They have worked hard thru High School, received a merit scholarship, have taken their PSAT, SAT, & ACT exams to prepare themselves and are excited about this new chapter in their young adult lives.
You on the other hand are a little less excited, and not because empty nest syndrome has set in prematurely. How am I going to pay for this you are thinking to yourself? It is the million dollar question. I just hope the million dollar question doesn’t cost me a million when my son is of age in 18 years.
Here are a few things to consider. FFELP Parent Plus loans are currently fixed at 8.5% which is really high in relation to private student loans, which many can get in the mid 6% range with good credit these days. The fed funds rate has dropped precipitously over the past several months which have spurred these lower private interest rates and has swung the pendulum in favor of private loans for many.
Both loans can be repaid after the student graduates, which are nice benefits, but you are only delaying the inevitable while interest continues to capitalize. If you can at least afford to make interest only payments while the student is in school it would certainly be in your best interest.
Another thing parents often ask me is who is responsible for the payment on these loans when the student graduates? The parent plus loan is linked to the parent’s social security number, so the parent is responsible for that one. The private student loans are generally in the students name with the parent listed as a co-signer. This would be the student’s responsibility and after 36-48 months of on-time payments you can get your named removed as a co-signer.
The parent plus loan also holds a tax benefit. You can write off the interest provided you do not earn more than $70,000 if you are single and $140,000 for joint filing. On a side note many parents with a joint income exceeding $140K are actually looking at home equity loans. Interest rates are so low on equity loans currently and they can write off the interest at the end of the year.
As you can see you have a few options, but only you know what is right for you. Happy spending.