As a parent, you want what’s best for your child. That often means a top-notch education, including a bachelor’s degree. However, the cost of college has skyrocketed in recent years, and few families can cover the expense with just their savings. According to a report from the Brookings Institute, 3.4 million borrowers owe over $87 billion in federal Parent PLUS Loans.
Carrying student loan debt as a parent can have significant consequences, affecting everything from your target retirement age to whether or not you can get approved for a mortgage. If you need some relief, refinancing your parent student loans can make a lot of sense, but it’s not for everyone and you are still subject to credit qualification. Here’s what you need to consider before refinancing your debt.
Read more: How to Refinance Your Parent PLUS Loans
Benefits of Refinancing Parent PLUS Loans
One way to manage your debt is to refinance your Parent PLUS Loans. With this strategy, you take out a loan from a private lender and use it to pay off your current student loans. The new loan has completely different terms than your old ones, which can have many advantages.
If you’re thinking of refinancing your parent student loans, there are several benefits to keep in mind:
1. Refinancing could save you money
If you have good credit and a stable income, you could qualify for a refinancing loan with a much lower interest rate than you have with your current loans.
For example, let’s say you have $30,000 in Parent PLUS Loans at 7.08% interest and 10 years left of repayment. Over the course of your repayment, you’d repay a total of $41,948. Interest charges would cost you nearly $12,000.
But if you refinanced your loans and qualified for a 10-year loan at 3.45% interest, you’d repay a total of just $35,515. You’d save over $6,400 by refinancing your debt.
|Parent PLUS Loans at 7.08% Interest||Refinanced Loans at 3.45% Interest|
|Loan Term||10 years||10 years|
2. You’ll have one easy payment
If you took out multiple parent student loans for your child’s education, you likely have several due dates, minimum payments, and loan servicers to remember. It can be overwhelming, and can cause you to miss payments.
When you refinance your student loans, you can consolidate them all together. Even if you have a mix of federal Parent PLUS Loans and private parent student loans, you can combine them into one loan. Going forward, you could have just one payment to remember, one due date, and one student loan servicer, simplifying your repayment.
3. Refinancing could reduce your monthly payment
If you decide to refinance your loans, you can choose a new repayment term. For example, if you’re currently on a 10-year repayment plan, you may be able to opt for a 20-year repayment term, instead. By doing so, you’ll be able to dramatically reduce your monthly payment.
Drawbacks to Refinancing Parent Loans
Although student loan refinancing can be a smart way to handle your loans, there are some serious drawbacks to consider before submitting your loan application:
4. You won’t be eligible for alternative payment plans
If you have federal Parent PLUS Loans and can’t afford your payments under a standard 10-year repayment plan, you have three options available to you:
- You can sign up for a Graduated Repayment Plan: With this approach, your payments start out low and increase every two years. You’ll still pay off your debt within 10 years, but you’ll have lower payments early on.
- You can sign up for an Extended Repayment Plan: Under an Extended Repayment Plan, your repayment term is extended to 25 years. You’ll pay more in interest than you would with a 10-year plan, but you could have a much lower payment.
- You can take out a Direct Consolidation Loan: You can consolidate your debt with a Direct Consolidation Loan. When you do so, your loan will be eligible for an income-contingent repayment plan, which extends your repayment term and caps your monthly payment at a percentage of your discretionary income.
If you decide to refinance your student loans, your loan becomes private instead of federal. Private student loans aren’t eligible for federal benefits, so you’ll lose out on the ability to sign up for an alternative payment plan.
5. You won’t qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness
If you have Parent PLUS Loans and work for a qualifying non-profit organization or government agency, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). With PSLF, your loan balance is forgiven after you make 120 monthly payments while working for an eligible employer.
However, private loans aren’t eligible for PSLF. If you refinance your Parent PLUS Loans, you’ll no longer qualify for loan forgiveness.
6. You may end up paying more in interest
If you refinance your loans and are able to extend your repayment term, you may end up paying more in interest charges than you would if you kept to your current repayment schedule. However, that tradeoff may be worth it to get more breathing room in your monthly budget.
Tackling Your Debt
If you took out loans to pay for your child’s education, you may feel overwhelmed by your loan balance. Student loan refinancing can provide you with much-needed relief, but make sure you understand both the pros and cons before making a decision.
If you decide that refinancing your loans makes sense for you, you can get a rate estimate from Earnest in just two minutes without impacting your credit score.