"A common criticism of the Parent PLUS program is that it desensitizes parents to the actual cost of college. Financial aid offices have an incentive to push parent loans, encouraging Mom and Pop to delay the reality of paying for college by borrowing with wild abandon," according to U.S. News & World Report.
"That can make pricey private universities – and even some less-expensive public institutions – appear far more affordable than they truly are for low-income or cash-strapped families. Some critics also believe the government-funded loans enable schools to keep tuition and other costs high, because they fill the gap between what the colleges themselves are willing to offer in student aid and the posted "sticker price" of attending the school. Without the loans, schools might have to fund more scholarships and grants out of their endowments or cut prices to a more affordable level.
Compounding the problem, parents often don't know what share of college costs they'll be expected to pick up when school applications are due. By the time they find out – when the financial aid letters roll in – it's too late.
'I find this really troubling – how it shifts all of the responsibility onto the student and family and away from the school,' says Ben Miller, senior director for postsecondary education at the District of Columbia-based Center for American Progress.
... Some counseling for parents is available, including credit counseling required for parents initially denied a PLUS loan and schools' own financial aid services. 'Financial aid administrators have a responsibility to make sure they work with borrowers and answer questions and help them understand how the PLUS loan fits into the broader package,' says Megan McClean Coval, vice president of public policy and federal relations for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, a nonprofit membership organization representing financial aid professionals.
But she notes that the loan is ultimately a federal product that parents can take if they meet the criteria, including having no adverse credit history and meeting the enrollment requirements, no matter what a financial aid officer recommends in a counseling session. 'It's not like this is a loan coming from the school,' Coval adds. 'It's a resource that's offered at a federal level, so if we're really going to be critical of it, we need to take a look at the programs from a federal policy perspective.'"
NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.
Publication Date: 2/14/2018