Grandparents can not borrow federal student loans, but they may be able to borrow a private loan to help pay for college.

It’s an open secret that college is very expensive. In addition to scholarships and financial aid, more students are turning to their families to help pay for these costs.

While it’s natural to ask your parents for help, they may not be able to offer enough support when it comes to things like borrowing the Parent PLUS loans. And that brings up another question: can grandparents actually borrow student loans on behalf of their grandchildren?

First, before you borrow any loans or ask anyone to borrow loans for you, be sure you exhaust all other options. You can apply for scholarships and grants, explore the option for employer tuition reimbursement, and find other ways to reduce the cost of college. Every dollar borrow needs to be repaid, plus interest. 

Grandparents and Federal Loans

If you’ve already asked your parents for help paying for school, you’re probably familiar with the Parent PLUS loan program. This is the program that lets parents apply for additional federal loans on top of what the student has already received. These parent loans are in your parent’s name and they are responsible for repayment.

Grandparents cannot apply for the Parent PLUS loan program. The only way that a grandparent could do so for their grandchild is if they have formally adopted their grandchild.

Grandparents and Private Loans

Just because your grandparents cannot apply for federal student aid does not mean they cannot help you pay for school. They will simply need to pursue a private loan instead of a federal loan. 

Consequences of Debt

It’s important that you let your grandparents know the full implications. Grandparents should be financially secure enough to take on potential debt. Sadly, a growing number of those 65 or older who have some form of student debt are struggling with making payments and even going into default.