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Education Department makes changes to PLUS loans

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, under pressure from black college presidents and lawmakers, has made changes to the PLUS loan program that may help thousands of families qualify for the college financial aid.

The Education Department says families that have recent but small-scale debt may now become eligible for PLUS loans through appeals. The change in the program was announced in a letter dated Tuesday to Representative Marcia Fudge, an Ohio Democrat who is chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

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Black lawmakers have been pressuring the administration, saying large numbers of previously eligible applicants have been denied aid under tighter credit rules that went into effect in 2011. Parents and graduate students who use PLUS loans have no borrowing limit, but they face some of the highest interest rates in the federal student loan system.

Parents whose loan applications are denied may ask for reconsideration under the new policy.

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