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Can a Parent PLUS Loan Be Transferred to a Student?

If you’ve taken out a Parent PLUS loan to help your child through college, you may be wondering if it’s possible to transfer the loan into your child’s name now that they have an income. While there are no federal loan programs that allow for this, there are other options that allow your child to take over the debt.

How to Transfer a Parent PLUS Loan to a Student

In order to transfer a Parent PLUS loan to a child or student, the student can apply for student loan refinancing through a private lender. With a student loan refinance, the child takes out a refinanced student loan and uses it to pay off the Parent PLUS loan. The student is then responsible for making the monthly payments and paying off the loan.

To get a student loan refinance and use the funds to pay off a Parent PLUS loan, simply have your child fill out a student loan refinancing application. Make sure to include the Parent PLUS loan information in the application.
If approved, the student can pay off the Parent PLUS loan with their new loan and begin making payments on the new loan.


💡 Quick Tip: Ready to refinance your student loan? With SoFi’s no-fee loans, you could save thousands.

Advantages of Refinancing a Parent PLUS Loan

The main advantage of refinancing a Parent PLUS loan is to get the loan out of the parent’s name and into the student’s. However, there are other potential advantages to refinancing student loans, including:

•   Lowering your interest rate

•   Reducing your monthly payments

•   Paying off your loan quicker

•   Allowing the student to build a credit history

Disadvantages of Refinancing a Parent PLUS Loan

While it may be beneficial to get the loan out of the parent’s name and into the student’s, there are some disadvantages that should be considered, such as:

•   Losing federal student loan benefits, including income-driven repayment, deferment options, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness

•   Possibly getting a higher interest rate, especially if the student has poor credit

•   The student is now responsible for the monthly payment, which might become a hardship if their income is low

If you do choose to refinance your Parent PLUS loan by means of a student loan refinance, you should note that this process is not reversible. Once your child signs on the dotted line and pays off the Parent PLUS loan, the debt is now theirs.

Parent PLUS Loan Overview

The Department of Education provides Parent PLUS loans that can be taken out by a parent to fund their child’s education. Before applying, the student and parent must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Then the parent can apply directly for a Parent PLUS loan, also known as a Direct PLUS Loan.

The purpose of a Parent PLUS loan is to fund the education of the borrower’s child. The loan is made in the parent’s name, and the parent is ultimately responsible for repaying the loan. Parent PLUS loans come with higher interest rates and origination fees than federal student loans made to students. Further, these loans are not subsidized, which means interest accrues on the principal balance from day one of fund disbursement.

Parents are eligible to take out a maximum of the cost of attendance for their child’s school, minus any financial aid the student is receiving. Payments are due immediately from the time the loan is disbursed, unless you request a deferment to delay payment. You can also opt to make interest-only payments on the loan until your child has graduated.


💡 Quick Tip: Federal parent PLUS loans might be a good candidate for refinancing to a lower rate.

Pros and Cons of Parent PLUS Loans

Parent PLUS loans allow you to help your child attend college without their accruing debt.

Pros of Parent PLUS loans include:

You can pay for college in its entirety. Parent PLUS loans can cover the full cost of attendance, including tuition, books, room and board, and other fees. Any money left over after expenses is paid to you, unless you request the funds be given directly to your child.

Multiple repayment plans available. As a parent borrower, you can choose from three types of repayment plans: standard, graduated, or extended. With all three, interest will start accruing immediately.

Interest rates are fixed. Interest rates on Parent PLUS loans are fixed for the life of the loan. This allows you to plan your budget and monthly expenses around this additional debt.

They are relatively easy to get. To qualify for a Parent PLUS loan, you must be the biological or adoptive parent of the child, meet the general requirements for receiving financial aid, and not have an adverse credit history. If you do have an adverse credit history, you may still be able to qualify by applying with an endorser or proving that you have extenuating circumstances, as well as undergoing credit counseling. Your debt-to-income ratio and credit score are not factored into approval.

Cons of Parent PLUS loans include:

Large borrowing amounts. Because there isn’t a limit on the amount that can be borrowed as long as it doesn’t exceed college attendance costs, it can be easy to take on significant amounts of debt.

Interest accrues immediately. You may be able to defer payments until after your child has graduated, but interest starts accruing from the moment you take out the loan. Subsidized loans, which are available to students with financial need, do not accrue interest until the first loan payment is due.

Can a Child Make the Parent PLUS Loan Payments?

Yes, your child can make the monthly payments on your Parent PLUS loan. If you want to avoid having your child apply for student loan refinance, you can simply have them make the Parent PLUS loan payment each month. However, it’s important to note that the loan will still be in your name. If your child misses a payment, it will affect your credit score, not theirs. Your child also will not be building their own credit history since the debt is not in their name.

Parent PLUS Loan Refinancing

As a parent, you may also be interested in refinancing your Parent PLUS loan. Refinancing results in the Parent PLUS loan being transferred to another lender. By transferring your loan, you may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate. Securing a lower interest rate allows you to pay less interest over the life of the loan — and if you also shorten your loan term, you can pay off the loan more quickly.

When you refinance Parent PLUS loans, you do lose borrower protections provided by the federal government. These include income-driven repayment plans, forbearance, deferment, and federal loan forgiveness programs. If you are currently taking advantage of one of these opportunities, it may not be in your best interest to refinance.

At SoFi, you can refinance federal Parent PLUS loans and qualified private student loans into one new loan with one convenient payment. You can do this on your own and keep the Parent PLUS loan in your name, or you can have your child apply for student loan refinancing and use that money to pay off your Parent PLUS loan. With SoFi, there are no application fees, no origination fees, and no prepayment fees.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.

FAQ

What if I can’t pay my Parent PLUS loans?

If you are struggling to pay your Parent PLUS loan, we recommend getting in touch with your lender and asking for a deferment or forbearance to temporarily suspend your payments. Keep in mind, though, that interest will continue to accrue on your loan even if payments are postponed. You could also consider switching the repayment plan you are enrolled in to an extended repayment plan, or refinancing your loan in order to get a lower interest rate. If you’re able to consolidate your Parent PLUS loan with a federal Direct Consolidation loan, you can also make it eligible for the Income-Contingent Repayment plan. This plan adjusts your monthly payment to 20% of your discretionary income while extending your repayment terms to 25 years.

Can you refinance a Parent PLUS loan?

Yes, it is possible to refinance a Parent PLUS loan through a private lender. Doing so will make the loan ineligible for any federal borrower protections, but it might allow you to secure a more competitive interest rate or have the refinanced loan taken out in your child’s name instead of your own.

Is there loan forgiveness for parents PLUS loans?

It is possible to pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) with a Parent PLUS loan. To do so, the loan will first need to be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation loan and then enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan. Then, you’ll have to meet the requirements for PSLF, including 120 qualifying payments while working for an eligible employer (such as a qualifying not-for-profit or government organization). Note that eligibility for PSLF depends on your job as the parent borrower, not your child’s job.


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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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How and When to Combine Federal Student Loans & Private Loans

One of the biggest student loan myths out there is that borrowers can’t combine federal student loans and private student loans into one refinanced loan.

It’s understandable why people may think that, since this wasn’t always an option. And consolidation through the Department of Education is only available for federal student loans.

But now you can choose to combine federal and private loans. So it’s important to understand whether combining federal student loans and private student loans is right for you.

Can I Consolidate Federal and Private Student Loans?

Yes, you can combine private and federal student loans by refinancing them with a private lender.

Through this process, you actually apply for a new loan (which is used to pay off your original loans) and obtain one with a new — ideally lower — interest rate.

Why would you want to do this? In addition to the advantages of loan consolidation (like having one, simplified monthly payment), refinancing student loans at a lower interest rate may lead to lower monthly payments. Note: You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.

Before you refinance federal student loans, there are a couple of things to think about. Here’s an easy decision tree to help you understand whether private student loan consolidation and refinancing federal loans is right for you:

Federal-Loans-Decisions--Tree-853x500

Federal Student Loan Interest Rates

Some people assume that federal loans always offer the best rates, but this isn’t necessarily true.

Depending on loan type and disbursement date, new federal student loan interest rates are reassessed annually, every July. For the 2023-2024 school year, interest rates on new federal student loans range from 5.50% to 8.05% . Interest rates on federal student loans are determined by Congress and are fixed for the life of the loan.

Some borrowers — particularly those with established credit and a strong, stable income or who can find a cosigner with similar qualities — may be able to qualify for a private student loan with a rate lower than a federal loan. For example, grad school borrowers who have higher-interest-rate unsubsidized federal Direct Loans and borrowers with federal Direct PLUS loans may also be able to qualify for a private loan with a lower interest rate than those federal loans. Undergraduates are likely to find lower rates with federal student loans — without a cosigner or credit check.

When you apply to refinance, private lenders evaluate things like your credit history and credit score, in addition to other personal financial factors, in order to determine the interest rate and terms you may qualify for. This applies when you consolidate private student loans as well.

This means if you’ve been able to build credit during your time as a student, or your income has significantly improved, you may be able to qualify for a more competitive interest rate with a private lender when you refinance. (If you aren’t interested in or don’t qualify for student loan refinancing, a Direct Consolidation
Loan
from the Department of Education might be worth a look — but you can’t combine federal and private loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan.) Private student loan consolidation is a different matter.

To get an idea of how much refinancing could potentially reduce the cost of interest on your loans, take a look at SoFi’s student loan refinancing calculator.

Federal Student Loan Benefits

When you refinance a federal student loan with a private lender, it becomes a private student loan. This means that the loan will no longer be eligible for federal benefits and protections.

Before you contemplate the idea of refinancing, consider taking a look at your loans to see if any of these federal loan benefits and programs apply to you — or whether you might want to take advantage of them in the future. Here are some to consider:

Student Loan Forgiveness

There are a few forgiveness programs available for borrowers with federal student loans. For example, under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), your Direct Loan balance may be eligible for forgiveness after 120 qualifying, on-time payments if you’ve worked for an eligible public sector entity that entire time.

Pursuing PSLF can require close attention to detail to ensure your loan payments and employer qualify for the program. The qualification requirements are clearly stated on the PSLF section of the Federal Student Aid website .

Similarly, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is available for teachers who work in eligible schools that serve low-income families full time for five consecutive years. The total amount forgiven will depend on factors like the eligible borrower’s role and the subject they teach. The Federal Student Aid website has all the details of this program.

These forgiveness programs can be beneficial for people who choose careers in public service or education.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

There are also a number of federal loan repayment plans that can ease the burden for eligible borrowers who feel their loan payments are higher than they can afford.

Under the student loan repayment plans and the other income-driven repayment options, monthly payments are calculated based on a certain percentage of the borrower’s discretionary income.

President Joe Biden’s Save on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan provides the lowest monthly payments of any IDR plan available to nearly all student borrowers.

But if your income is over a certain threshold, you likely won’t benefit from these programs.

And if you do qualify but you’re at the high end of the spectrum, your slightly lowered payments may come at a disproportionate price in the form of accumulating interest. Although the Department of Education says that if you make your monthly payment under the SAVE plan, your loan balance won’t grow due to unpaid interest.

Deferment or Forbearance

Life can be unpredictable — sometimes that means borrowers might have difficulty making payments on their student loans. When this happens, borrowers with federal student loans may qualify for deferment or forbearance.

President Biden proposed a federal student loan debt canceling of up to $20,000 for qualified loan holders but it was struck down by the Supreme Court in a ruling released in late June 2023.

The three-year-long pause on federal student loan payments due to Covid-19 lockdowns ends in the Fall of 2023. Student loan interest will resume starting on Sept. 1, 2023, and payments will be due starting in October.

For borrowers who can’t make payments, the DOE created a temporary on-ramp period through Sept. 30, 2024. This on-ramp period protects borrowers from having a delinquency reported to credit reporting agencies. And it prevents the worst consequences of missed, late, or partial payments.However, payments are still due, and interest will continue to accrue.

Also, there are ongoing deferment and forbearance options that allow borrowers to temporarily pause payments on their federal student loans in the event of economic hardship.

The biggest difference between the two is that with forbearance, the borrower is responsible for paying the interest that accrues on the loan during this time. Forbearance can have a major financial impact on a borrower, as any unpaid interest will be added to the original loan balance. With deferment, the borrower may or may not be responsible for paying the interest that accrues.

The type of loan you hold will determine whether or not you qualify for deferment or forbearance. Both options can be potentially helpful tools to borrowers going through a short period of financial difficulty, but both have important considerations .

Refinancing Your Student Loans

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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How to Get Out of Student Loan Debt: 6 Options

Dealing with substantial student loan debt can be overwhelming, especially if you find yourself struggling to make your payments.

Fortunately, there are some options that may help minimize the amount of money you pay back on your federal student loans, such as the Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) programs.

When trying to figure out how to get rid of student loans, it’s important to understand that you might be able to reduce your monthly payment with a student loan refinance. Or you may be able to temporarily postpone your federal loan payments through deferment or forbearance.

Options to Get Out of Repaying Student Loans Legally

1. Loan Forgiveness Programs

Depending on your eligibility, there are a few different federal loan forgiveness programs available to borrowers with federal student loans. These programs could help you get out of paying a portion of student loan debt as they forgive your loan balance after a certain number of years.

President Joe Biden proposed a federal student loan debt cancellation of up to $20,000 for those who met household income eligibility. However, the Supreme Court ruled against Biden’s plan, saying the president did not have the necessary authority to take such action. Since then, President Biden has announced various programs to provide relief for those carrying federal loans, along with calling attention to existing plans.

Each forgiveness program has different eligibility criteria.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

This federal student loan forgiveness program forgives the loans of highly qualified teachers. Depending on the subject area they teach, teachers who meet the eligibility requirements may have up to $17,500 or up to $5,000. Teachers are eligible to apply for this loan forgiveness program after they have completed five years of service.

Recommended: Explaining Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

This program is designed for those working in public service. In order to qualify, applicants must meet the programs eligibility requirements, including:

•   Work for a qualified employer

•   Work full-time

•   Hold Direct Loans or have a Direct Consolidation Loan

•   Make 120 qualifying payments on an income-driven repayment plan

Borrowers who are interested in pursuing PSLF will have to follow strict requirements in order to qualify and have their loan balances forgiven.

Take control of your student loans.
Ditch student loan debt for good.


2. Income-Driven Repayment Plans

Income-driven repayment plans for federal student loans tie a borrower’s monthly loan payments to their income and family size.

The repayment period for income-driven repayment plans varies from 20 to 25 years. While these plans help make loan payments more affordable for borrowers, extending the loan terms may result in accruing more interest over the life of the loan.

President Biden has announced the creation of the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan , which replaces the existing Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan. Borrowers on the REPAYE Plan will automatically get the benefits of the new SAVE Plan.

The SAVE Plan, like other income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, calculates your monthly payment amount based on your income and family size. According to the White House, the SAVE Plan provides the lowest monthly payments of any IDR plan available to nearly all student borrowers.

Starting next summer, borrowers on the SAVE Plan will have their payments on federal undergraduate loans cut in half (reduced from 10% to 5% of income above 225% of the poverty line).

A beta version of the updated IDR application was made available in early August 2023 and includes the option to enroll in the new SAVE Plan. The DOE says that if you apply for an IDR plan (such as the SAVE Plan) in the summer of 2023, your application will be processed in time for your first federal student loan payment due date.

Recommended: The SAVE Plan: What Student Loan Borrowers Need to Know About the New Repayment Plan

3. Disability Discharge

When working out how to get rid of student loans, take into account that It may be possible to have federal student loans discharged if you have a permanent disability. To be eligible for the disability discharge, you need to show the Department of Education that you are not able to earn an income now or in the future because of your disability.

To do so, you need to get an evaluation from a doctor, submit evidence from Veterans Affairs, or show that you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance. You cannot apply for disability discharge until you have been disabled for 60 months unless a doctor writes a letter saying that your disability and inability to work will last at least 60 months.

4. Temporary Relief: Deferment or Forbearance

Federal student loan repayment was put on pause over three years ago due to the Covid-19 shutdown. As part of the agreement reached in the Debt Ceiling bill, the Department of Education’s student loan forbearance program ends in 2023, with interest resuming on September 1, 2023 and payments due beginning in October 2023.

However, in late June, President Biden announced the creation of the On-Ramp Program . The Department of Education is instituting a 12-month “on-ramp” to repayment of federal student loans, running from October 1, 2023 to September 30, 2024, so that “financially vulnerable borrowers” who miss monthly payments during this period are not considered delinquent, reported to credit bureaus, placed in default, or referred to debt collection agencies.

Apart from the On-Ramp Program, forbearance and deferment both offer borrowers the ability to pause their federal student loan payments if they qualify.

Depending on the type of loan you have, interest may continue to accrue even while the loan is in deferment or forbearance. However, applying for one of these options can help borrowers avoid missed payments and potentially defaulting on their student loans.

Note that private student loans don’t offer the same benefits as federal student loans, but some may offer their own benefits. For example, SoFi offers Unemployment Protection, which allows qualifying borrowers to pause loan payments if they lose their job through no fault of their own.

5. Student Loan Refinancing

This option won’t get rid of your student loans, but it could help make student loans more manageable. By refinancing your student loans, you can potentially qualify for a lower interest rate, which can possibly lower your monthly payments or save you money on interest over the life of your loan.

If you refinance with a private lender, you can also change the length of your student loan. While private lenders can refinance both your federal and private student loans, you do lose access to the protections that federal student loans provide, such as income-based repayment programs, on the amount that is refinanced.

6. Filing for Bankruptcy: A Last Resort

Bankruptcy is a legal option for the problems caused by people struggling with how to take out student loans. However, it is rare that student loans are eligible for discharge in bankruptcy. In some instances, if a borrower can prove “undue hardship,” they may be able to have their student loans discharged in bankruptcy.

Filing for bankruptcy can have long-term impact on an individual’s credit score and is generally a last resort. Before considering bankruptcy, review other options, such as speaking with a credit counselor or consulting with a qualified attorney who can provide advice specific to the individual’s personal situation.

Recommended: Bankruptcy and Student Loans: What You Should Know

The Takeaway

When you are learning how to take out student loans, the future debt may not be obvious. It can be challenging to pay student loan debt, but there are options that can temporarily reduce or eliminate your payment. It is only in extremely rare circumstances that student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy.

For federal student loans, some options that can help alleviate the burden of student loan debt include deferment or forbearance, which may be helpful to those who are facing short-term issues repaying student loans. Another avenue to consider may be income-driven repayment plans, which tie a borrower’s monthly loan payments to their income, helping make monthly payments more manageable.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.



SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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What’s the Average Student Loan Interest Rate?

Student loans, like any loans, have an interest rate (and, sometimes, other loan fees). While interest rate accrual on existing federal student loans was paused from March 2020 through August 2023 due to the Covid-19 forbearance, the 2023 debt ceiling bill officially ended the payment pause, requiring interest accrual to resume on Sept. 1 and payments to resume in October 2023. And of course, any new student loans — federal or private — will have an interest rate that impacts the total cost of the loan.

So what is the average student loan rate? While it would be difficult to nail down the average rate of all active student loans held by borrowers, we know the interest rates of new federal student loans, as well as the range of rates for private student loans.

What Is The Average Student Loan Interest Rate?

The interest rate on a student loan varies based on the type of student loan. Federal student loans issued after July 1, 2006, have a fixed interest rate. The rates on newly disbursed federal student loans are determined annually by fixed formulas specified in the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA).

These are the federal student loan interest rates for the 2023–24 school year:

•   5.50% for Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans for undergraduates

•   7.05% for Direct Unsubsidized loans for graduate and professional students

•   8.05% for Direct PLUS loans for graduate students, professional students, and parents

All three of those rates have risen from the 2022-2023 school year, and the undergraduate rate has doubled since the 2020-2021 school year.

Federal Student Loan Rates by Borrower Type
Source: Studentaid.gov

This means that the average rate for the three main types of federal student loans is 6.87%:

Average Interest Rate for All Federal Student Loans
Source: Studentaid.gov

Private student loan interest rates vary by lender and each has its own criteria for which rates you qualify for. Private student loans can have either fixed interest rates that remain the same over the life of the loan or variable rates that can start lower than a fixed interest rate but then go up over time, based on market changes.

Private lenders may also offer different interest rates if you have a cosigner on your student loan. The interest rates on private student loans can vary anywhere from 4% to 17%, depending on the lender, the type of loan, and on individual financial factors including the borrower’s credit history.

Recommended: Types of Federal Student Loans

How Are Interest Rates Determined?

As mentioned previously, the interest rates on federal student loans are set annually by fixed formulas specified in the HEA. The rates are tied to the financial markets — federal law sets them based on the 10-year Treasury note and a statutory add-on percentage with a maximum rate cap.

Since July 2006, all federal student loans have fixed interest rates. Although federal student loans are serviced by private companies or nonprofits selected by the federal government, these loan servicers have no say in the federal interest rate offered.

For private student loans, the lenders set their own rates, though they often take cues from federal rates. Each lender has their own algorithm and credit standards. The rates quoted for student loans vary based on each applicant’s individual situation — though generally the better a potential borrower’s financial history is, the better rate they may be able to qualify for.

To learn more about private and federal student loans check out our student loan help center. If you’re looking to reduce your interest rate, student loan refinancing may be right for you.


💡 Quick Tip: Ready to refinance your student loan? With SoFi’s no-fee loans, you could save thousands.

How Is Student Loan Interest Calculated?

After a three-year payment pause, the debt ceiling bill officially ended the Covid-19 forbearance, requiring federal student loan interest accrual to resume on Sept. 1 and payments to resume in October 2023.

Interest on federal student loans typically accrues daily. To calculate the interest as it accrues, the following formula can be used:

Interest amount = (outstanding principal student loan balance × interest rate factor) × days since last payment

In other words, you will multiply your outstanding loan balance by the interest rate factor. Then, multiply that result by the days since you last made a payment.

To calculate that interest rate factor you can divide the interest rate by the number of days of the year (365). For example, let’s say you have an outstanding student loan balance of $10,000, an interest rate of 4.75%, and it’s been 30 days since your last payment. Here’s how to calculate your interest:

$10,000 x (4.75%/365) = $1.30 daily interest charge
$1.30 x 30 days = $39
Interest amount $39

Many private student loans will also accrue interest on a daily basis, however, the terms will ultimately be determined by the lender. Review the lending agreement to confirm.

Recommended: When Do Student Loans Start Accruing Interest?

What to Look for in a Student Loan Interest Rate

When you take out a federal student loan, you’ll receive a fixed interest rate. This means that you’ll pay a set amount for the term of the student loan. In addition, all of the terms, conditions, and benefits are determined by the government. Federal student loans also provide some additional perks that you may not find with private lenders like income-driven repayment (IDR) plans.

The Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan is one of the IDR options to consider if you’re a federal student loan borrower. The SAVE Plan is the most affordable repayment plan for federal student loans, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Borrowers who are single and make less than $32,800 a year won’t have to make any payments under the SAVE Plan. (If you are a family of four and make less than $67,500 annually, you also won’t have to make payments.)

Private student loans can have higher interest rates and potentially fewer perks than federal student loans. You may want to take advantage of all federal student loans you qualify for before comparing private loan options.

Average Interest Rates for Student Loans FAQ

Here are some common questions about the average interest rates of student loans:

What Is a Good Fixed Interest Rate for Student Loans?

When it comes to cost, the lower the interest rate, the better. The lower the interest rate, the less a borrower will owe over the life of the loan, which could help individuals as they work on other financial goals. If you’re taking out federal loans, the student loan interest rate is set by federal law, so you don’t have a choice for what is and isn’t a reasonable interest rate.

When it comes to private student loans, it’s wise to shop around and compare your options to find the most suitable financing solution. Since every lender offers different terms, rates, and fees, getting quotes from multiple lenders may help you select the best option for your personal needs. Keep in mind that the rate you receive on a private student loan is largely dependent on your credit score and other factors, whereas federal student loan interest rates are based on HEA formulas and not your creditworthiness.

Also keep in mind that private student loans do not have the same borrower protections as federal student loans, including IDR plans or deferment options, and should be considered only after all federal aid options have been exhausted.

Is $30K In Student Loans Bad?

If you owe $30,000 in student debt, you’re right in line with the national average. More than 40 million consumers have outstanding student debt as of 2023, and the average borrower owes about $35K, according to TransUnion®.

Is a 4.75% Interest Rate Good?

With interest rates on private student loans ranging anywhere between 4% and 17%, and the three types of federal student loan rates averaging 6.87% for the 2023-2024 school year, a 4.75% interest rate in 2023 is lower than what most students can get on a new student loan.

How Can I Reduce the Interest Rates on my Student Loans?

The interest rate on federal student loans, while fixed annually for the life of the loan, does fluctuate over time. For example, the rates for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans for undergraduates doubled from 2.75% in 2020–21 to 5.50% in 2023–24.

To adjust the rate on an existing student loan, borrowers generally have two options. They can refinance or consolidate the loans with hopes of qualifying for a lower interest rate.

Refinancing a federal loan with a private lender eliminates them from federal borrower protections such as income-driven repayment plans or Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The federal government does offer a Direct Consolidation Loan, which allows borrowers to consolidate their federal loans into a single loan. This will maintain the federal borrower protections but won’t necessarily lower the interest rate. When federal loans are consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan, the new interest rate is a weighted average of your original federal student loans’ rates.

Refinancing student loans with a private lender may allow qualifying borrowers to secure a lower interest rate or preferable loan terms. Note that extending the repayment term will generally result in an increased cost over the life of the loan.

To see how refinancing could work for your student loans, take a look at the student loan refinance calculator.


💡 Quick Tip: Federal parent PLUS loans might be a good candidate for refinancing to a lower rate.

The Takeaway

The average student loan interest rate varies depending on the loan type. The interest rate for federal Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized loans is set annually by federal law and fixed for the life of the loan. The interest rate on private student loans is determined by a variety of factors including the borrower’s credit history and may range anywhere from 4% to up to 17%.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


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Father and son on balcony

What Is a Parent PLUS Loan?

When an undergraduate’s financial aid doesn’t meet the cost of attendance at a college or career school, parents may take out a Direct PLUS Loan in their name to bridge the gap.

These loans are available to parents when their child is enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school. Before you apply, it’s important to understand the benefits and challenges of this kind of federal student loan.

A “Direct” Difference

First, to clarify, there are federally funded Direct Loans that are taken out by students themselves. Then there are federally funded Direct PLUS Loans, commonly called Parent PLUS Loans when taken out by parents to help dependent undergrads.

To apply for a Parent PLUS Loan, students or their parents must first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

Then a parent typically applies for a PLUS Loan on the Federal Student Aid site. A credit check will be conducted to look for adverse events, but eligibility does not depend on the borrower’s credit score or debt-to-income ratio.


💡 Quick Tip: Some lenders help you pay down your student loans sooner with reward points you earn along the way.

Pros of Parent PLUS Loans

At least 3.5 million parents (and in some cases, stepparents) have taken out Parent PLUS Loans to lower the cost of college. Here are some upsides.

The Sky’s Almost the Limit

The government removed annual and lifetime borrowing limits from Parent PLUS Loans in 2013, so parents, if they qualify, can take out sizable loans up to the student’s total cost of attendance each academic year, minus any financial aid the student has qualified for.

Fixed Rate

The interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan. That makes it easier to budget for the monthly payments.

Flexible Repayment Plans

The options include a standard repayment plan with fixed monthly payments for 10 years, and an extended repayment plan with fixed or graduated payments for 25 years.

More College Access

PLUS Loans can allow children from families of more limited means to attend the college of their choice.

Loan Interest May Be Deductible

You may deduct $2,500 or the amount of interest you actually paid during the year, whichever is less, if you meet income limits.

Recommended: Are Student Loans Tax Deductible?

Cons of Parent PLUS Loans

Many Parents Get in Too Deep

The program allows parents to borrow without regard to their ability to repay, and to borrow liberally, as long as they don’t have an “adverse credit history.” (If they did have a negative credit event, they may still be able to receive a PLUS Loan by filing an extenuating circumstances appeal or applying with a cosigner.)

The average Parent PLUS borrower has more than $29,000 in loans, a financial hardship for many low- and middle-income families.

And if a student drops out, parents are still on the hook.

Interest Accrual

PLUS loans are not subsidized, which means they accrue interest while your child is in school at least half-time. You’ll need to start payments after 60 days of the loan’s final disbursement, but parents can request deferment of repayment while the student is in school and for up to 6 months after. Interest will still accrue during that time.

The Rate

The current interest rate for Direct PLUS Loans is 8.05%

Origination Fee

The government charges parents an additional fee of 4.228% of the total loan.

Fewer Repayment Options

Parents who struggle with payments typically have access only to the most expensive income-driven repayment plan, which requires them to pay 20% of their discretionary income for 25 years, with any remaining loan balance forgiven. And parents must first consolidate their original loan into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Options to Pay for College

Instead of PLUS Loans, private student loans may be used to fill gaps in need.

Private lenders that issue private student loans typically look at an applicant’s credit score and income and those of any cosigner. The lenders set their own interest rates, term lengths, and repayment plans. Some do not charge an origination fee.

You may want to compare annual percentage rates among lenders, and decide if a fixed or variable interest rate would be better for your financial situation.

Any time a student or parent needs to borrow money for education, a good plan is a good idea.

Sometimes scholarships can significantly reduce the amount of money that needs to be paid out of pocket for college, and personal savings and wages can also help. But it isn’t unusual for students to also need to take out loans.


💡 Quick Tip: Parents and sponsors with strong credit and income may find much lower rates on no-fee private parent student loans than federal parent PLUS loans. Federal PLUS loans also come with an origination fee.

Refinancing a Parent PLUS Loan

The goal of Parent PLUS Loan refinancing is to get a lower interest rate than the federal government is charging.

And student loan refinancing may allow children to transfer PLUS Loan debt into their name.

Refinancing could potentially lower your interest rate, which gives you the option to either:

•  Reduce your monthly payments

•  Pay the loan off more quickly, which may allow you to pay less interest over the life of the loan

Note that Parent PLUS Loans come with certain borrower protections, like the income-based repayment option and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, that you would lose if you refinanced. Also note that if you refinance with an extended term, you may pay more interest over the life of the loan.

Eligibility for refinancing Parent PLUS loans depends on factors such as your credit history, income, employment, and educational background.

The Takeaway

Millions of parents have used federal Parent PLUS Loans to help pay for their children’s college education. Anyone tempted to take out one of these loans may want to know the pros, cons, and options.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.

SoFi private student loans offer competitive interest rates for qualifying borrowers, flexible repayment plans, and no fees.


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SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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