The Parent Plus Loan Trap

The Parent Plus Loan Trap

If you’re a middle-income parent, putting your child through college may mean taking on substantial debt. How much debt? In many cases, nearly twice the amount you’d make in a year.

In fact, according to a study from the Wall Street Journal, many parents are borrowing up to six-figures to fund their kid’s post-secondary dreams.

The cost of a college education has grown exponentially in the last ten years, but so has the financial reward one gets from earning a college degree. So, where does that leave parents who want to help fund their child’s college education? Figuring out how to pay for college is one of the biggest sources of stress for parents. Thankfully, there are many ways you can fund your kid’s college education that doesn’t include draining your finances. And it’s through a little known program called Credit-by-Exam (CBE).

The Parent Plus Loan Trap

Why are parents taking on over $100,000 in student loans? The answer can be found in a program called Parent Plus. The Parent Plus program is a federal loan program parents can use to help their children pay for college. It’s important to note that Parent Plus loans come at a higher interest rate than standard student loans and has a higher limit you can borrow. That can spell trouble for the uninformed borrower that wants to pay for all or most of their kid’s college costs. Some schools are more expensive than others, and you can quickly find yourself under a mountain of debt if you’re not careful with the amount you borrow. Parent Plus loans can put a severe strain on your finances.

And the schools carrying the highest amount of Parent Plus debt may surprise you: art schools, HBCUs, and small private colleges typically carry the most Parent Plus loan debt.

At Spelman College, a historically black school in Atlanta, parents borrowed an average of $112,000. That’s much more than any school in the country! Paying back a loan of that amount can mean payments of over $1,200 a month, which rivals most mortgage payments.

parent plus loans

At other colleges, parents typically took on loans worth $50,000 or more. Some colleges required amounts between $25,000 and $50,000. This information, collected by the U.S. Education Department, paints a complete picture of the financial strain many parents undertake in helping their kids pursue their post-secondary dreams.

Helping finance your kid’s college can quickly become burdensome, but it does not have to be if you know your options. Enter Credit-by-Exam.

Save on your child’s college expenses with Credit-by-Exam.

There’s a lot of opinions on how to save money on your kid’s college tuition, but one you probably haven’t heard of yet is Credit-by-Exam.

Credit-by-Exam is a program that allows students to receive college credit by taking – and passing – exams on core subjects. Since students can take these college-level replacement exams instead of sitting for a class, it can save parents thousands of dollars on college tuition.

Different Credit-by-Exam tests include…

  • CLEP (the most common exam)
  • DSST (for military members and their families)
  • UExcel (for nursing students).

One of the most popular Credit-by-Exam tests among college students is the College Level Examination Program or CLEP.
The College Board runs CLEP exams. Any person of any age can sit for an exam and, if they pass, receive college credits for that course.

The CLEP exams are like high-school AP exams; only your child can take it at their own pace without sitting for a class. That means they can take CLEP exams whenever they’re ready, not just at the end of the semester.

Currently, CLEP offers exams on 30 subjects at more than 1,800 testing centers, and they cost just $85 each. Not only that, CLEP credits are accepted at over 3,000 accredited colleges and universities.

And you don’t have to wait until your child is enrolled in college to start saving with CLEP exams. The low cost and flexible timing make the tests perfect for high schoolers. With Credit-by-Exam, your child can earn both high school and college credits and graduate earlier for less money. If your child plans to work while attending college, they can earn credits for their prerequisites and take tests around their busy work schedules.

The College Board reported that students who earn 15 CLEP credits toward a degree could save between $5,000 and $17,000 on tuition, depending on their college. Not only does Credit-by-Exam help you save thousands on your child’s college expenses, but your child will also have the opportunity to graduate quicker, start their career earlier, and start earning money sooner.

The Smart Way to avoid college debt

In most cases, CLEP test-takers would have to study on their own to make sure they have the required knowledge to pass the exams. CLEP exams can be more difficult than sitting for a regular college course for this reason. That’s where Smarter with Achieve can help.

Smarter with Achieve helps Credit-by-Exam test-takers study to pass CLEP, ECE, and DSST exams. We offer expert exam guidance that prepares your child to take and pass college-level replacement exams.

Our Prep Course Plan ensures that your child’s school of choice accepts Credit-by-Exam and verifies how many credits the school will accept. Then, our online prep courses help your child prepare and pass CLEP exams and earn college credits.

Chat with an advisor today. We’ll walk you through the smart way to pay for college and avoid the Parent Plus Loan trap.


Need Time to Review but the Kids are Home? 6 Helpful Study Tips for Parents in College

Need Time to Review but the Kids are Home? 6 Helpful Study Tips for Parents in College

You’re not alone if you’re searching for study tips for parents in college.

This is especially true today, with the rapid spread of Covid-19 across the world.

A third of humanity is under lockdown. 160 countries have implemented nationwide closures, impacting 87% of the world’s student population.

So, if you’re like millions of people across the world, your kids are at home.

In a way, this is great because it’s your chance to form closer relationships with your family. You also get to teach your kids things they don’t learn at school: how to balance a checkbook, how to prepare a meal, or how to spring clean their room.  

But if you’re a student parent, things can get difficult.

Your kids need constant attention, plus you’re struggling to turn in homework, attend online lectures, and study class material.

In this blog, we first lay down the difficulties of being a parent and going to college (especially when the kids are at home). Then, we explore 6 workable solutions that’ll make your study time productive and give you more time with your kids.

study tips for parents in college

The Difficulties of Being a Parent Going to College While the Kids are Home

It’s one thing to have the kids at home all day on weekends.

It’s another thing to have them stuck in the house seven days a week.

Here are three problems you face when you must juggle being a parent and keeping up with your college class schedules and homework.

Your Kids Feel Bored and Confused without a Daily Schedule to Follow

Kids are used to following a schedule. They get up, go to school, meet friends, and come home to rest and do homework.

But with schools closing across the world, this schedule is disrupted. Your kids wake up to a long, unstructured day. While this feels like a vacation at first, it’ll soon transform into a cause for anxiety, boredom, and irritability.

Younger Kids Require Attention and Special Care

Imagine yourself preparing to attend an online lecture.

You set up your computer, log into your college’s online portal, and prepare your materials.

Suddenly, there’s a commotion coming from the kitchen. Your 6-year-old just dumped an entire bag of flour onto the kitchen floor!

How do you attend class and look after young kids at the same time?

Teenagers Don’t Want to Be Locked Down at Home with You

Raising teenagers is difficult on normal days. With teens and tweens, you need to strike a fine balance between respecting them and continuing to teach and raise them.

If your teens are home 24/7, things can get intense. They want to hang out with friends, but they’re trapped at home with the people they least want to be with at this stage of their lives.

Having a sulking teen at home distracts you from focusing your time and energy on your studies.

6 Helpful Tips for Parents in College: How to Structure Your Home Life So You and the Kids Continue Learning

With the right rules and time management, you’ll soon be able to get your home running like a well-oiled machine.

Follow these 6 study tips for parents in college to start.

1. Create a Routine

One huge challenge of a lockdown is the disruption of routine. Humans thrive with routine, partly because it gives a feeling of safety and purpose.

So, the first step to maintaining order at home is to create a routine for the whole family.

Here are great ideas you can put into play:

  • Schedule a time for the kids to get up each morning.
  • Make breakfast a special family time.
  • Give kids their own “study time,” when they attend online classes or do homework.
  • During your kids’ study time, find a quiet corner for yourself and focus on your college courses or your credit-by-exam preparations.
  • Give kids enough time to play. Make them look forward to the “fun part” of the day.
  • Don’t set too much time for each activity in your schedule. Breaking tasks into small chunks is an excellent idea.

2. Cut Your To-Do List in Half

With your kids at home 24/7, it’s just not possible to function normally. If you try to stick to your usual schedule, you’ll end up missing priorities and feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.

The key is to carefully go over your regular to-do list. Find items you can eliminate. For instance, if you clean your room every single day, switching to doing it every other day can give you more free time.

Cut your list in half, then cut that in half.

3. Make Use of Technology

Ever had a fight with your teen about how much time they spend on their phone? Or with your younger child about how many hours spent watching Netflix cartoons?

While technology can be an enemy during normal days, you can treat it as a friend during lockdown.

Remember, these days are exceptional. So, if you set your kids down in front of the TV or allow your tweens more screen time, that’s OK.

When they’re occupied and the house is quiet, you can sit down for uninterrupted study.

4. Designate Study Areas for You and Your Kids

You can all sit down at the dining table and study together like one big family. Right?

Not so fast.

Although it looks like a good time at first, studying with your kids is distracting. When they start fighting or plying you with a hundred questions, it’ll be impossible for you to focus on your material.

To counter this, set boundaries in the house. Create tiny workspaces where each member of the family can focus on work or study. Make these spaces comfortable. Set rules about entering each other’s private study zone.

5. Get Your Spouse Involved

Home quarantine means increased time with your spouse, and this can either be a good or bad thing.

On the bleak side, the spread of Covid-19 has caused a spike in divorce cases in China. Spending too much time in close quarters with a spouse can cause heated debates and resentment.

On the bright side, your spouse can be a huge help to you with your studies. If you make fair arrangements as to who will oversee the kids’ studies on different days, you’ll both have time to work or study.

Here are tips on making negotiations with a spouse:

  • Set a schedule. Creating a fixed schedule on who will do the dishes, oversee the kids’ learning, and tidy up the kitchen will eliminate the need to argue when chores come up.
  • Save the criticism for later. Want to lash out at your spouse? Remind yourself to do it after lockdown, when you both have more space and your regular lives back.
  • Tell your partner what you need. Do you need 3 hours a day of focused study? Maybe you’re preparing for credit-for-exam and need 6 weeks to go over your material. The best thing to do is not to be vague. Tell your spouse directly what you need and when you need it.

6. Get Help

Are you struggling with your college classes or credit-by-exam preparations with the kids at home?

If so, it’s important to know you’re not alone. That’s why we created these study tips for parents in college.

Sometimes, all it takes is to speak to someone who understands. An expert who can guide you and help you take charge of your studies and preparations.

For instance, let’s say you’re preparing for a credit-by-exam like CLEP, UExcel, or DSST. You’ve decided to speed up graduation by skipping an entire college course when you take credit-by-exam.

But preparing for credit-by-exam requires intense concentration and specific knowledge on the tests. How can you do this plus take care of the kids?

If you’re looking around for help, the Smarter with Achieve team can help. We offer:

  • One-on-one online tutoring
  • Mentorship by an expert
  • A library full of helpful hints
  • Peer-to-peer mentoring
  • Prep courses and practice exams

Making the Most of Being a Parent in College

Being a parent in college is tough in itself.

And with everything going on in the world today, it’s even tougher.

But you can turn things around with these study tips for parents in college. You can turn this difficult time into one that’ll not only further your studies but also bring your family closer together.

Would you like help earning college credits online during social distancing? To get started, click here and tell us about your college goals.

study tips for parents in college
6 Ways Being a Parent Can Be Useful for Moms Going Back to School

6 Ways Being a Parent Can Be Useful for Moms Going Back to School

You’ve heard it all before.

You’ll be exhausted. Empty-pocketed. Never home for your family.

While naysayers over-focus on the obstacles of going back to school, there’s a kernel of truth that can’t be ignored: a massive percentage of parents drop out of college every year.

You know education is an investment worth making. One that will affect not just your career, but improve your family’s quality of life. That’s one reason why in the 2019-2020 school year, 11.3 million women enrolled in college in the US – nearly 2 million over the age of 35.   

So how do you work, go to school, and be a good mom at the same time? Let’s explore 6 reasons why going back to school while raising a family can be challenging, but ultimately gives you a serious edge.

mom going back to school

3 Monster Hurdles You Encounter as a Parent in School

1. There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day

Sometimes it’s a challenge to split your full attention between your work, your family, and your education. There are too many important things that have to get done.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average mother with a child under 6 spends nearly 3 hours a day caring for her child. Combine that with a national average of 6.8 hours of work per day, 8 hours of sleep, and it’s more challenging to carve out time for class.

2. It’s a Hefty Financial Commitment

Developmental education – introductory and remedial classes that dust off old knowledge and prepare students for college-level courses – costs students an estimated $1.3 billion per year.

With yearly tuition fees ranging from $10,000 to more than $35,000, it’s time to zoom in on the real cost of education.

Imagine you take an average of 15 credit hours per term. At the low end, that’s $330 per credit hour. That two-credit, two-hour a week (too-easy) math class you have to take to enroll in accounting? It’s going to set you back at least $22 an hour.

Factor in transportation, arranging (and paying for) a babysitter, and reduced work hours, and you’re looking at a serious financial challenge.

3. It’s a Juggling Act

Sometimes, going back to school to further your career can take a toll on your current one. If you attend a traditional school, you may need to reduce your work hours to attend class. Or, you might have to drastically slow down your education to continue supporting your family. You’ll have to depend on a sitter – or a spouse – to take care of the children while you’re studying, and perhaps pick up some of the household duties, too. For some parents (especially single moms going back to school) this poses a serious challenge.

The great news? It’s these exact challenges – and the skills that come with them – that make moms singularly awesome at succeeding in college.

6 Reasons Why Moms in College Outshine Their Peers

Are you up for the challenge? You may be ready to go back to school.

1. You’re a Time Management Hacker

It can be difficult to balance going to school, working, (and maybe even taking a little break every once in a while), all while raising a family. So, do moms need to be robots to invest in their careers?

Thankfully, no.

However, it does mean that your time management skills need to be on-point. As a mom going back to school, you have a significant advantage over your fellow students: you’re a time-management pro. Moms manage more than 60% of household chores, on top of childcare and work. Therefore, for moms going back to school, stellar prioritizing is second nature.

2. Introductory Classes are a Piece of Cake

Many classes – especially in the first year of college – are general requirements. While they may be useful for a student fresh out of high school, they’re old news to someone with more life experience. This might leave traditional class time a little (let’s be honest) sluggish and boring.

Thankfully, you can save time by completing your pre-requisite courses using credit by exam.

Credit by Exam can save you hundreds of hours of class time and thousands of dollars. When compared to a traditional college course, credit by exam requires a lot less effort. So it’s more likely that you will earn the credits required for your degree. By using an approach that requires less effort, you actually have the time available to achieve your education and career advancement your goals. This ensures you can get back to what matters: family.

3. You’ve Got Discipline Down Pat

How do you earn college credits online? Beyond the obvious answer, there’s a more philosophical one: through exceptional discipline. It takes will-power to prioritize sitting down at the computer, taking out your notebook, and studying without anyone watching.

Traditional students do best when a teacher is in front of them, telling them what to do. But as a parent, this is your everyday role. It’s up to you to provide direction and guidance for your kids (whether they listen to you or not). 

Moms are well-equipped to crush an online course, and it shows. In fact, students who are parents regularly earn better grades than their non-parent counterparts.

4. Your Kids Inspire You

Having someone who inherently looks up to you can an effective motivator. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to share your report card with your child or discuss every grade you get. But it does mean that you can share what you’re learning, and the intellectual challenges you’re encountering in school.

Your children can see their school experiences reflected in you, and your successes will make them proud of you and in turn motivate them to invest in their education, creating a positive feedback loop. In as early as sixth grade, a mother’s educational status significantly influences a child’s aspirations to go to college. By mid- to late high school, your children will have years of positive role modeling to draw from, helping them decide if – scratch that – where they’ll go to college.

5. Your Spouse and Family Support You

It’s no secret that when you’re in school, some responsibilities will have to be rearranged. Your spouse might work more, or take on more of the household duties, to give you more time to study. A helpful relative might drop by a few nights a week to spend time with your children or cook dinner while you do your homework.

As a parent in college, you have access to a support network that non-parent students may not be fully aware of yet. This cooperation will serve to bring your family closer together. Best of all, when you complete your degree, they’ll not only feel proud of your success but feel they played a role in it too. How’s that for community building?

6. A Degree Leads to a Lifetime of Higher Earnings

Did you know that women with bachelor’s degrees earn an average of $630,000 more over their lifetimes? That’s enough to fund college educations for ten children, and have money left over for retirement.

Whether you’re focused on advancing in your current profession or shifting to a new one, pursuing a new degree path or finally finishing the one you already started, investing in your education will positively affect your career for a lifetime. 

As a parent going back to school, you know exactly how much getting a good education can cost, but you also have the good sense to get the most out of every penny.

Moms Excel in College – Are You One of Them?

When it comes to the skills it takes to succeed in school, moms have what it takes. Whether it’s a family support network you know you can depend on, your strength of character that comes from being a mom, or your future-focused attitude, you’re uniquely prepared to handle the challenges college may throw at you. All that’s left is to start the journey.  

mom going back to school
How to Overcome Common Obstacles of Being a Single Parent in College

How to Overcome Common Obstacles of Being a Single Parent in College

As a single parent in college, you face challenges other students can’t imagine. Like them, you have to keep your grades above average, turn in homework on time, and prepare for quizzes, exams, and tests. But besides all of these, you have to cook meals for your kids, take them to daycare, and find enough money to cover the expenses of child support. What’s more? You’re all on your own with these duties and struggles.

Sadly, these difficulties cause a huge percentage of single parents to drop out of college. If you aren’t sleeping enough, don’t have enough time for your kids, and your grades are failing, you might be worried you’ll be the next single parent in college to drop out without earning your degree. 

Still, something inside you tells you to keep going. You know earning your degree will change not only your own life, but the lives of your children. You’ll do better financially. You’ll also be able to prove to your kids the importance of persistence when the going gets rough.

So, how can you overcome the common obstacles of being a single parent in college? Read on to find out the roadblocks that can stand in your way as a single parent and how to overcome them

Three Huge Obstacles You Face as a Single Parent in College

Attending college and being a single parent are two separate things that require you to be tough, dedicated, and persistent. But what if you had to do both at the same time? Naturally, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with roadblocks and challenges. Here are three of them. 

1. The Cost of Raising and Caring for Children

College prices are going up. For example, in the past 20 years, in-state tuition at national universities has increased by 221%. To complete just one year of college, you’ll need an average of $10, 230. This figure doesn’t include room and board, books, transportation, and the other expenses you’ll incur as you work your way towards your degree. 

Now, imagine these expenses coupled with the costs of caring for children. According to The Atlantic, childcare costs an average of $10,000 per year per child. 

Being a single parent in college is not cheap. 

2. The Time and Dedication Required to Raise Children

As a college student, your days are busy with attending lectures. At night, you focus on completing your homework and preparing for the next day’s classes. College already takes a huge chunk of your time and thoughts.

Now, what if you’re juggling both the requirements of college and taking care of children? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, parents need an average of 3.9 hours a day to manage the needs of children below six. That leaves less time for sleep, study, and joining extra-curricular activities at school.

The problem gets even bigger when you have to work to support yourself as you pursue your degree. If you’re like 85% of current students, you hold either a part-time or full-time job to help you pay for your college expenses. As a single parent in college, you may have to work even more than the average four hours a day to support your child financially. 

With so much time spent on childcare, work, classes, and homework, you have less time for sleep, self-care, and socializing.

If you’re a single parent in college, you’re likely overwhelmed with work, raising your kids, and studying at the same time. Unfortunately, not being able to find a solution will lead to you burning out and dropping out of college. 

3. The Difficulty of Dealing with Unexpected Situations

Life happens. When you least expect it, you come face-to-face with challenges and hurdles. For instance, your child can get sick and require you to deal with huge hospital bills. Or you can get sick and suddenly get off-track with your studies, work, and childcare. If you don’t have a strong support system to keep you going, chances are you’ll feel overwhelmed and consider dropping out to end the difficulty of living a demanding life of commitments that feel overwhelming. 

The good news is there are ways to overcome the obstacles of being a single parent in college.

Five Ways to Overcome the Obstacles of Being a Single Parent in College

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, only around 31% of single mothers hold a college degree. Between 2003 and 2009, only 28% of single mothers completed their course in six years. 

Although the numbers are scary, you shouldn’t lose hope. Read on to learn five ways you can beat the odds and become part of the small percentage who do make it to graduation

1. Consider Grants and Other Programs 

There are several grants, programs, and other resources that can help you pay for college. Here are three examples.

1. Government Grants that Provide Childcare for Single Parents in College

If your child has not yet started school, it can be difficult to find someone to care for them while you’re attending classes. The good news is grants like the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program provides funding for childcare within the campus. 

Can you live on campus with a baby? For many colleges, the answer is no. But with on-campus childcare, it’ll be easier for you to manage your schedule and feel assured your child is cared for while you attend classes. Before you enroll in a college, inquire whether your targeted college is supported by a government grant for childcare.

2. Local Grants Offering Housing, Childcare, and Transportation

Depending on where you live, you can inquire after local grants that help single parents in college. For instance, you can find grants supporting colleges for single mothers with housing in Texas. In Minnesota, you can get up to $5,200 for every child below 12 per year. Other local grants help with tuition fees, transportation, and other expenses.

3. Grants and Programs from Colleges

Aside from local and government grants, you can find individual colleges offering support to single parents. The grants often include housing, tuition, and childcare programs.

2. Weigh the Benefits of the Best Online Degree Programs for Single Mothers

If you’re hard-pressed dividing your time between college and your child, getting your degree online may be a good fit for you. Remember, stay away from diploma mills and shady for-profit online schools. Before you choose the best online degree program, do careful and complete research on the college’s background and reputation.

Getting your degree online promises multiple benefits to both you and your child. One of the main advantages is the flexible hours. Also, studying online gives you networking opportunities with students across the globe.

Here are the top 50 colleges offering distance learning.

3. Rely on Your Support System

Attending a college near your home comes with its advantages if you’re a single parent. If you’re close to home, you aren’t on your own. College students with families can get help with housework, childcare, and other duties. If you’re determined to complete your course, you can seek help from close friends, neighbors, and other concerned members of your support system.

4. Organize 

Without a proper roadmap to help you deal with your hectic schedule, you’ll soon feel overwhelmed with all you have to do. The best thing you can do to avoid this is organize your life carefully. Here are three ways you can do it.

1. Prioritize What’s Important

Life is full of distractions. To stay on course towards graduation, you need to eliminate the aspects that slow you down. Here are the four basic priorities you should choose above everything else: family, work, school, sleep. Feel free to say no to other activities you know will slow you down, drain your energy, or put you off-schedule. 

2. Make the Most of Your Study Time

As a parent, you won’t have many hours of free time to study. Because of this, make sure to do the best you can with the time you do have. For instance, learn memorization techniques for faster absorption of lessons. This will lessen your study time while making you a more efficient student.

Interested in learning study techniques that’ll boost your learning abilities? Achieve can help you with a library of resources and helpful hints.

3. Enjoy Study Time with Your Child

If your child is older and is already in school, you can set aside time in the evenings to study together. By making study time an enjoyable family experience, you strengthen your resolve to make it to graduation. Also, scheduling enough time to study becomes easier.

5. Consider Taking Credit-by-Exam

What if there is a way to earn credits without the commitment of a college course? Imagine being able to bypass lectures, final exams, and study sessions for related quizzes and tests? And what if it is more affordable than college courses? 

The great news is this solution exists. It’s called credit-by-exam. What is credit-by-exam? It’s a set of exams that allow you to earn college credits across specific course subjects. For instance, there’s UExcel. UExcel allows you to take exams on over 30 subjects. When you pass one exam, you get three credits you can add to help you earn your degree faster. 

What’s even better? Credit-by-exam saves you money. For instance, a three-credit exam will only cost you $85. On the other hand, earning three credits by taking a full college course can cost you up to $800. 

Before attempting to take credit-by-exam, however, you need to be sure you’re ready. The exams cover broad subjects, so being familiar with how they work is a plus. One thing you can do is get help from Achieve. With Achieve, you can get 1:1 mentoring where you can ask any test-related question. You get practice tests, help with your goals, and a growing library of helpful hints and resources. Achieve is there to help ensure your time isn’t wasted when you take credit-by-exam.

Being a Single Parent in College: How to Overcome the Most Difficult Barriers on the Road to Graduation

As a single parent in college, your cap and gown on graduation day will not come easy. You’ll have to go through barriers that seem impossible to go through. You’ll have to think out of the box, be innovative, and persist to the end.

It’s good to know you’re not alone. When you get stuck along the way, Achieve can help you out of the rut and back on the road towards success. 

For more information on how Achieve can help you, visit our website today.