According to the Federal Student Aid, the PLUS loan is a type of federal loan that parents (with good credit) may apply to help pay their child’s education expenses.

However, if you are a graduate student or one with a professional degree, you may personally apply for this loan to cover tuition, books, supplies, housing expenses and more.1

PLUS Loan Eligibility

As a single mother, your parents cannot apply for this loan on your behalf because you have a dependent of your own, which automatically disqualifies you as a dependent of your parents.

As mentioned early on, you may however apply based on your own merits if you are currently pursuing a professional or graduate degree.

Eligibility for the PLUS Loan depends on a modest check on your credit history. As such, it’s important to know exactly where your credit stands before you apply.

Other conditions as follows:

  • Provide proof of US citizenship or that you are a non-citizen enrolled in a participating school in the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program
  • No outstanding or late payment for any other educational loan or grant from the government
  • Note: Direct PLUS Loans is restricted to the parents or legal guardians of a dependent undergraduate student

How to Apply

Similar to Stafford loan, application must be done through Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition, before you can receive a PLUS Loan, your school must have determined your maximum eligibility for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

You’re also required to complete a Direct PLUS Loan Application and Master Promissory Note – a legal promise to repay your loan and all related fees and interest expenses. It also contains all terms and conditions of your PLUS loan.

If your application passes your school’s evaluation, you will receive further instructions from the school’s financial aid office as to what further steps you should take.

Amount Available

The maximum amount available for a Federal PLUS loan will depend largely on the cost of attendance of the student as well as the amount of aid the student is already receiving from other types of financial aid. Keep in mind that the cost of attendance is something your school determines.

Take for example a student who has to pay $5,000 a year for her schooling. If she is already receiving $3,000 from other sources of financial aid, she may request up to $2,000 or the remaining balance per year through a Federal PLUS loan.

Interest Rate

As with other types of federal student loans, the interest rate for the Federal PLUS loan is a fixed rate of 7.9% which you will have to pay for interest at the time the loan is fully disbursed to your account – usually within 60 days after the final disbursement. In addition, you will also have to pay a fee of 4% of the loan amount each time a loan disbursement is made.

Although the PLUS loan may not seem to be as attractive as the Perkins or Stafford loan, it is still an alternative option for single mothers who have exhausted all other means of getting financial aid.

References:

  1. Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Degree Students – studentaid.ed.gov []