Federal Direct PLUS vs. Private Loans - Know the Difference

When looking for help paying for college, you should always look for free money first, in the form of scholarships and grants. Next you should consider federal Direct Loans. But if you’ve exhausted these sources and are still faced with funding gaps, you may be considering a federal Direct PLUS or private student loan.

What's the difference?

Direct PLUS loans are issued by the federal government, and are held in the name of the student's parent.

Private student loans come from a bank, credit union, or other finance company, and are in the name of the student borrower, though a co-signor may be needed.

Each comes with different terms and benefits. We break them down in the table below - click to enlarge the image.


For more information about student loans, view our recent webinar recording.

If you need one-on-one advice about paying for college, you can contact our College Counselor to discuss your options.