Local News

Finding Financial Aid For A College Education

Posted October 6, 1998

— Parents worry about how they're going to pay for their children's college education, and everyone seems to tell them to start saving when their kids are little.

But there never seems to be enough money when there istimeto save or enoughtimewhen they have the money.

Meredith Collegesenior Jennifer Thomas is majoring in biology not economics. But as a frequent visitor to the financial aid office, she knows college is getting more expensive.

"I've gradually seen how it's risen since I was a freshman, and it's gone up a lot," Thomas said.

TheCollege Boardreleaseda studyshowing an average 4 percent cost increase in public institutions over last year. In private colleges, costs rose 5 percent.

The good news is that financial aid is more available than ever before. However, more of that aid comes now in the form of loans rather than grants.

Meredith College financial aid director Phil Roof says that trend is due to more people going to college and realizing its importance to their future.

"It's not that there's less grants available," Roof said. "It's that more people are tying into the financial aid system and taking advantage of the loans that are there."

Roof's advice for parents of young children is to take advantage of new tax laws.

"Just in the 1997 tax bill, several things were put into that to help families set aside money, tax-free, for the purpose of education," Roof explained

For parents of high school students, Roof says there is good, free advice on how to find scholarship money.

"The best way for a family and a student to find out about resources is really through a high school guidance office," Roof said.

Wednesday, President Clinton signed a bill making college loans cheaper for students and their parents. The Higher Education Bill sets the interest rate on student loans at 7.5 percent, its lowest in 17 years. The bill also raises the limits on higher education grants and work-study programs.

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