No Income? No Problem! How the Gov’t Is Saddling Parents with College Loans They Can’t Afford
"As the cost of college has spiraled ever upward and median family income has fallen, the loan program, called Parent Plus, has become indispensable for increasing numbers of parents desperate to make their children's college plans work," ProPublica and the Chronicle of Higher Education report. "A joint examination by ProPublica and The Chronicle of Higher Education has found that Plus loans can sometimes hurt the very families they are intended to help: The loans are both remarkably easy to get and nearly impossible to get out from under for families who've overreached. … For parents in exceptional circumstances, colleges have some discretion to bypass the Plus application process and give a student the additional amount of federal student loans that would be available in the case of a Plus denial — up to $5,000. Those are judgment calls, says Justin Draeger, president of the aid administrators' group. Cases of a parent who is incarcerated or whose only income is public assistance are more straightforward, but the prospect of evaluating a parent's ability to pay is fraught. Deciding to tell them what they can afford 'leaves the schools in sort of a moral dilemma,' Draeger says."
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