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==== ==== Parents' Concerns about Paying for College.... ==== ====

My oldest child just turned 17 and suddenly reality hit me right between the eyes. I knew it was coming, I'd planned for it but suddenly there it was; time had run out as the reality of college and its associated cost had arrived. Given the current malaise in the credit markets, it should come as no surprise that the student loan system is under heightened duress. Many lenders have stopped making new loans to students; others are tightening their bootstraps and making it more difficult, and more expensive, for borrowers - both students and parents. So much like most of you with kids about to enter college, graduate from college or somewhere in between, dealing with paying for college has never been more challenging. As a financial advisor one piece of advice I give parents is that paying for college does come with options. Paying for retirement does not. When the process to find and fund a college degree begins, we as the parents need to understand that financial aid is not bad, it's aid, and should be looked upon without emotion or fear of stigma. Financing your retirement is your responsibility and most of us will work on funding it alone. Funding the college education of our children can be looked at as a team effort with both children and parents contributing. Federal Student Loans - Your First Stop So, whether the student or the parent does the borrowing, your first and best option for securing a loan is to go directly to the federal government. Stafford loans, designed for students, and PLUS loans, for parents, are the most commonly used federal loans. The key benefits of Stafford loans include: Low, fixed-interest rates Income-based eligibility (indicated by data filed on the FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Repayment deferral until after graduation On the downside, Stafford loans carry annual borrowing limits that often are not high enough to cover a year of college costs. Parents who intend to fill their child's college funding gap via a PLUS loan must undergo a credit check in order to qualify. Those who are deemed creditworthy can borrow up to the full cost of attending college - including the cost of room and board and books.

While Stafford loans offer a low fixed rate of interest, the interest on a PLUS loan is variable and may change annually. In addition, unlike student loans that allow borrowers to defer repayment until after graduation, PLUS loans require parents to begin a repayment schedule immediately. For students and parents alike, borrowing through the federal education loan program-as well as through private loan issuers-offers tax deductions on interest paid. Once again remember that paying for college is a long-term commitment. Determining who should pay and how to cover the costs is a personal family decision that should take into consideration a family's current financial needs as well as its short- and longer-term financial goals. Speaking candidly with your young adult about their need to participate in the process will help in their growth through added responsibility and participation in the decision process. Online Resources There is a wealth of information available online to help research the financial aid and federal student loan options available to families. The following are just a few to get you started. Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Ronit Rogoszinski is a Registered Representative with and securities are offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Ronit may only discuss and /or transact securities business with residents of the following states: NY, NJ, CT, FL. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individuals. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. Please visit us on

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==== ==== Parents' Concerns about Paying for College.... ==== ====

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