Parent PLUS Loan Deferment, Forbearance and Other Repayment Options
If you borrowed parent PLUS loans to support your child’s education, you have several options for managing payments. A parent PLUS loan deferment or forbearance pauses payments while your child is enrolled at least half-time or up to six months after graduation.
However, interest typically accrues during forbearance and deferment, increasing the total cost of your parent PLUS loan. With that in mind, you should start by looking at other repayment methods, such as income-driven repayment, parent loan forgiveness and refinancing.
5 options to consider before parent PLUS deferment, forbearance
While a parent PLUS loan forbearance or deferment can offer much-needed relief during financial hardship, it’s worth exploring more affordable options first. In most instances, interest will continue accruing when your PLUS loans are in forbearance or deferment.
Instead, consider the following five repayment options to see if they can help with your current needs.
1. Enroll in income-driven repayment
If you struggle with federal student loan payments, you can enroll in an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. With an IDR plan, the government extends your repayment term and caps your monthly payments to a percentage of your discretionary income.
While there are four types of IDR plans for federal student loans, the only one available for parent PLUS loans is the Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan. Your ICR payments will be the lesser of either a) 20% of your discretionary income or b) what you would pay on a plan with a fixed payment over 12 years, adjusted to your income. Repayment terms can go up to 25 years.
The government will discharge the remaining amount if you have a remaining balance at the end of your ICR term. However, the forgiven amount could be taxable as income, so it’s worth some planning to avoid a large tax bill. (Taxes on forgiven student loans have been waived through 2025 via pandemic-era legislation.)
To get on an ICR plan, you must first consolidate your federal parent PLUS loan into a Direct Consolidation loan. Use the Department of Education Loan Simulator tool to see how your new monthly payment could change with an Income-Contingent Repayment plan.
Beware of interest costs>
While enrolling your parent PLUS loan in an ICR plan can lower your monthly payment, you will likely pay more interest due to extending your repayment term. If your ultimate goal is to save money, check out our guide on paying off student loans faster.
2. Sign up for an alternative repayment plan
A federal parent PLUS loan is eligible for other repayment plans outside of ICR. If you need more breathing room in your budget, consider these alternatives:
- Graduated Repayment Plan: Your payments start low and increase every two years, with repayment terms for up to 10 years. This could be an ideal option if you currently have a low income but expect it to increase in the future.
- Extended Repayment Plan: Your payment term is extended up to 25 years, reducing your monthly payments. You must have at least $30,000 in outstanding parent PLUS loans to qualify.
Again, these plans can reduce your monthly bill and offer more financial flexibility, but at the cost of increasing your overall paid interest.
3. Consider parent PLUS loan forgiveness
Your parent PLUS loan might qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program if you make 120 qualifying payments while working for an eligible nonprofit organization or government agency. Unlike other forms of student loan forgiveness, amounts forgiven under PSLF are not considered taxable income.
However, you’ll first need to consolidate your parent PLUS loan and make all qualifying payments under an Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan.
Even if PSLF isn’t an option for you, you might qualify for other aid based on your career, location or other criteria. Our complete guide on student loan forgiveness programs has a list of other options to explore.
4. Refinance your federal parent PLUS loan
If you can’t manage your monthly payments, you can consider refinancing parent loans into your student’s name.
Refinancing is a good option if your child is gainfully employed and has a good credit score. Your child can work with a private lender to take out a new loan in their name to repay the parent PLUS loan. They might even score a lower interest rate, a longer repayment term or a reduced monthly payment with a student loan refinance.
In some cases, refinancing your parent PLUS loan is worthwhile even if your name remains on the loan. Some lenders specifically offer refinancing for parent PLUS loan borrowers, allowing you to switch to a lower interest rate and save over the life of the loan.
Beware of losing federal benefits>
Even though refinancing your parent PLUS loan into your child’s name (or keeping it in your name) can save money over the long term, you’ll lose access to federal protections like income-driven repayment, forbearance and forgiveness. Before proceeding, consider the pros and cons of student loan refinancing to ensure it’s a smart move for you.
5. Ask your child to help out
Since parent PLUS loans are issued in the parent’s name, the government can’t force your child to make payments. But it’s worth discussing options with your child if you struggle to keep up with payments.
Even if you don’t formally refinance the loans in your child’s name, you can work together to create a plan to help with payments. For example, you and your child can split the bill, each covering 50% of the monthly payment. That way, you can get some relief while still assisting your child in the early stages of their career.
When to resort to parent PLUS loan deferment or forbearance
If the solutions listed above don’t work for your situation, then it could be worth putting your loans into deferment or forbearance.
As noted, both options temporarily pause payments while keeping your loans from going delinquent or into student loan default. However, interest will generally continue to accrue during this time.
Parent PLUS loan deferment or forbearance may be an option in the following situations:
- You are (or the student for whom you took out a parent PLUS loan is) enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school
- You’re unemployed or facing significant financial hardship
- You’re serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces
- You’re serving in the Peace Corps
- You’re in a full-time rehabilitation training program for disabled veterans
- You’re receiving support from a state agency for vocational rehabilitation, drug abuse treatment or mental health services
Your deferment or forbearance timeline depends on your specific situation. Even though student loan interest charges will add up during periods of deferment or forbearance, it could still be worth it if you need a lower monthly payment right now.