Cracking Down On PLUS Loans

WASHINGTON — For the past year, parents hoping to borrow a federal loan on their college student’s behalf have found those loans are harder to get than they used to be.

A little-noticed Education Department change in October 2011 added new underwriting standards for the PLUS loan, the federal lending program for parents and graduate students. The changes made requirements more stringent and appear to have caused a spike in denials, including some to parents who had been able to take out the loans in previous years.

Based on last year’s trends, nearly half of would-be PLUS borrowers this academic year might be turned away, according to an analysis by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of

The denials have hit particularly hard at historically black colleges and universities, presidents of those colleges, as well as higher education associations, say. They have warned that some students might not return because they can’t get the loans to pay for college.

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