Six-Figure Parent Loans: When College Dreams for Students Mean Nightmarish Debt for Family - ABI

The federal government’s Parent PLUS program helps make attending college a reality, closing the gap between the cost of college and what the student receives in grants and other loans. But while it may sound like a lifeline, the Parent PLUS Loan program can cause economic complications for families, USA Today reported. The loan program was introduced in the 1980s as a way for middle- and upper-income parents to help their children pay for college while keeping their assets liquid. It has since become more popular among lower-income parents. That's possible because the program does not check the ability to repay, considering only the borrower's credit history. When parents borrow, the debt can weigh down families for generations. But the burden falls particularly hard on low-income black families. Few white families with low incomes take out the loan – 10 percent of white Parent PLUS borrowers earn $30,000 or less. Comparatively, 40 percent of black Parent PLUS borrowers have incomes that low. ABI

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