Education Department Announces Plans to Strengthen PLUS Loan Program

Federal government works to help more families qualify for college loans

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The U.S. Department of Education has announced plans to help ensure that more students and families have the right tools and resources to finance a college education.

With new regulations to help make post-secondary education acceptable for all students, while protecting taxpayer dollars, the federal government is making changes to the program that was established 20 years ago to better reflect the economic patterns of today.

“The Department’s top priority is to ensure more students can access and successfully complete a post-secondary education,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a news release. “The updated borrowing standards for the PLUS loan program demonstrates our commitment to ensuring families have access to the financing they need to reach their goal, while being good stewards of taxpayer money.”

The new regulations will redefine what it means to have “adverse credit history” for PLUS loan applicants, while enforcing a streamlined application for borrowers to receive a loan. The government will also work with families to ensure they’re doing an effective job at managing their loan money by providing clear and customized information about their loan obligations and counseling tools to better assist them. While counseling is available to all borrowers, potential loan recipients with adverse credit history are required to engage in counseling before they’re approved for a loan.

Current federal restrictions on PLUS loans have had a major impact on African American families, with fewer than 17,000 students attending HBCUs due to the inability to afford college. With plans to provide counseling and other services to families, hopefully the new regulations will open the doors for more black students to attain a post-secondary education.

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