Students Battle with Parents Plus Loans


Photo by Dominique Moody

Many college students are outraged in the changes made to regulate the federally funded Parent PLUS Loan. The original changes to the Parent PLUS Loan were made in 2011, but more changes are set to come in the upcoming school year.

Financial aid is significant to most students at historically black colleges and universities. On average, 90 percent of HBCU graduates have student loan debt. The median debt of HBCU graduates is $28,786.

“I understand,” said Brandon Johnson, a freshman public relations major from Gainesville, Fla. “I have a Parent PLUS Loan. When banks loan out money, they want to receive their money back with interest. But, considering the demographics it concerns, I am not in favor of it at all.”

The changes that have been made denies parents, with inadequate credit, the ability to qualify for the loan. Instead of parents’ previous 90 days credit being subject to evaluation, now parents past five years must undergo evaluation according to Inside Higher Ed reports.

The changes caused major deficit for numerous HBCUs. The United Negro College Fund found over 45 percent, or over 17,000 number of students, attending HBCUs with PLUS Loans dropped. This caused HBCUs to lose over $155 million in PLUS Loan funds.

The Parent PLUS loans have limits on how much parents and students can borrow. The interest is the highest of all the federally funded loans at 6.41 percent.

Some students of Florida A&M University shared their opinions on the changes made to the Parent PLUS Loan. The perspectives were split.  

“I think these changes are good,” said Meridith Tucker, a pre-med biology major from Virginia. “They need to protect the federal government from more debt. They need to protect people from themselves! If some are prone to being in debt, why give them the option of more debt? That’s the way I see it.”

It became evident that the new rules for the Parent PLUS Loan needed changing. UNCF:

“The new rules include the recommendations of a rule-making committee that included two UNCF member presidents and will become effective next year for the 2015-2016 school year.”

The changes should allow for thousands of prospective students to attend HBCUs.

“UNCF has been working diligently with many lawmakers hoping to make a difference. The Parent PLUS Loan is vital for African-American students to attend college. It’s important that African-American students have access to higher education. Students should also do their part by calling their congressman and exposing the issue for what it is,” said Carrie Neal, the UNCF Financial Aid Director.

In order for anything to change, students must speak out on the issues that concerns them.  It is so important for their voices to be heard.