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How Do I Stop Parent Plus Loan Payments Without Hurting My Mom?

Written by Steve Rhode


Dear Steve,

I graduated from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2016 with a BA in Education. I now work full time as a Director for an after school program, earning roughly $1800/month. I took out loans for my education, which I am now paying back ($176/month), and my mom took out parent plus loans as well–her payments are $636/month. Before graduation, my mom and I agreed that I would make the loan payments for both of our loans, since they were financing my education, but I had no idea the monthly payments would be so high.

I can afford my loan just fine, but hers is making me go negative every month. The most frustrating part is that she makes well over $100,000/year, and is making me pay off her parent plus loan to teach me a lesson about responsibility, even though she can afford it just fine.

All of the message boards I have seen about this issue talk about how the parents can’t afford the payments, but she can. Overall, I am a very responsible person–my credit score is over 750 and I pay for all of my rent and bills myself. She says that she had to struggle when she was my age, and she wants me to do the same so that I understand how to take care of myself without relying on someone else. I understand what she means, and I want to help as much as I can, but it’s just not possible for me right now.

Her solution is for me to find another job that pays more, but the job I have now is the career I chose–I love it and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

How to I talk to her about stopping the payments for her parent plus loan without destroying our relationship? I am willing to refinance the loan in my name based on my income, but so far we have been denied. Are there any other options for us? How can I convince her to make these payments until I am at a place in my life where I can afford to help?

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Dear Megan,

Now that is a tough situation. Your mother certainly has a point. It appears she did help you to get through school by agreeing to take out loans in her name to pay for your education. And it seems there was some agreement you would pay for the loans.

Now the fact you did not fully understand what the cost of the loans would be when you agreed to that proposal is not on your Mom. That’s on you and it’s a great learning experience about credit and debt.

Your mother is also correct that money troubles can be addressed by increasing income. You can do that through working a second job or finding a higher paying job.

All that being said, your mother trusted you would honor the agreement you made but no matter what, she is solely responsible for the Parent Plus loan payments. As I mentioned, these are loans in her name, not yours.

There is no magic wand to wave since ultimately this is an issue that has arisen by not being able to honor the mutually agreed commitment with your Mom.

The best way to deal with this situation is going to be for the two of you to sit down and negotiate a compromise. This might mean you paying her more towards the loans but not the full amount.

You might also think about taking on an increasing payment to her each year to takeover the loan payments over a period of time.

The advantage you have in this situation is you can talk to your mother and attempt to rationalize a mutually agreeable solution. You can’t do that with a student loan lender.

Look on the bright side, I’d much rather deal with a debt collector who will give you a hug and feed you dinner.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


  • “Before graduation, my mom and I agreed that I would make the loan payments for both of our loans, since they were financing my education”. Seems pretty straight-forward.

    If you’re having trouble affording the payments on the student loans that got you “the career I chose–I love it and I can’t imagine doing anything else”, it seems clear that living on your own is simply not possible with your income and you debt load. If a second job is out of the question, perhaps you need to consider a room mate, or moving back in with your parents.

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