Wednesday, April 8, 2009

College Tuition Not on the House

Posted by Yoshikuni Asaba

PARENTS of college-age children used to be able to count on home-equity loans to help pay tuition, but this is no longer the case with housing values sliding and the mortgage market imposing much tighter restrictions on loans.

As a result, educational institutions that once considered a house as a college fund of sorts are taking a more realistic look at home equity’s role in the financial aid equation.

“With so many people up against the wall with declining home values,” said Philip Day, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, “the issue of using home-equity loans for tuition is almost rendered moot.”

Of the roughly 2,000 four-year colleges nationwide, only about 250 require applicants for financial aid to disclose a home’s value and outstanding mortgage debt. That disclosure comes in the College Scholarship Service’s Financial Aid Profile, a supplement to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Institutions that require the Financial Aid Profile are typically costlier, and wealthier, with endowments large enough to sustain a supplemental financial aid program. Traditionally, these schools would ask parents to contribute 5 or 6 percent of their home’s equity to the tuition.

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