Saturday, December 27, 2014

Piling on loans isn't the only way to fund education

DEAR HARRY: We have a 17-year-old son who will start college in September 2015. Unfortunately, we will have to borrow to pay his tuition. We have been hearing all kinds of tales of woe about student loans. There is talk of difficulties in getting the loans, repaying them, delayed payments and their effect on credit scores, bankruptcy and more. We need some clarification so we can do the best for him . . . and us.

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Too many parents look at state universities as a second-tier choice. There are big bucks to be saved because of the lower tuitions. In many cases the education is the equivalent of (and sometimes better than) what the elite colleges offer.

Penn State is among the best. It is also wise to look at colleges that offer grants as well as loans. For example, the University of Pennsylvania is among the first to offer loan-free financial aid. That's right. No one graduates from these colleges with debt. You can also look into scholarships that may be available to him for academic achievement as well as some unique characteristic that he possesses.

But education can be a lifesaver. Sure, there are costs in addition to the interest on education debt. Missed or delayed payments can hurt his credit. And the loans hang on through bankruptcy almost all the time. But that education is something no one can take away from him.


Email Harry Gross at, or write to him at Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19107. Harry urges all his readers to give blood. Contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red-Cross.

Harry Gross Daily News Personal Finance Columnist
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