The Parent PLUS Loan Crisis

In October 2011 the U.S. Department of Education changed a key requirement for the program. Thousands of families have been hit hard as parents have discovered they no longer qualify for Parent PLUS Loans. This drop should be a concern to all of higher education as students the country needs the most find it more difficult to get the education they need and we need them to have.

The change in Parent PLUS also dramatically impacted HBCUs, with thousands fewer students approved for loans for over the last two years.  In the 2012-2013 academic year alone, the number of students attending HBCUs with PLUS Loans dropped by 45%, or over 17,000 students, from the prior year.  As a result, HBCUs lost $155 million in PLUS Loan funds — a 35% reduction — from already tight budgets.

UNCF's report, THE PARENT PLUS LOAN CRISIS: An Urgent Crisis Facing Students at the Nation's HBCUs, documented the crisis and called on the Department of Education to immediately reinstate its original Parent PLUS credit requirements while it conducts a transparent and deliberate review process for new criteria.

After a vigorous advocacy campaign by UNCF, the U.S. Department of Education has responded. On October 23, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education formally issued new, final Parent PLUS Loan rules that will re-open the doors to college for thousands of students at HBCUs.  The new rules include the recommendations of a rulemaking committee that included two UNCF member presidents and will become effective next year for the 2015-2016 school year.

HBCU Supporters, Parents and Students
 — With your help, we have turned back federal restrictions on PLUS Loans that are a lifeline to a college education for students who do not receive sufficient financial aid to cover their expenses.  But, our work is not done!  Please join us in our fight to reverse other federal student aid cuts that have occurred at a time when a college degree has never been more important.  Visit our Take Action site to see how you can make a difference.   
Media — Learn more about what UNCF is saying about the Parent PLUS Loan issue and how it has affected low-income minority students across the country.


HBCU Facts
  • The first HBCU, Cheney University in Pennsylvania, was founded in 1837. All HBCUs play a critical role in the American higher education system.