college

Paying for college without second mortgage

Don TaylorDear Dr. Don,
With a child going to college next year, what's the best way to pay for it? I only owe $40,000 on my mortgage, but I don't want to go into another $160,000 loan at the age 51. Together, my wife and I have an annual income of about $90,000 a year.
-- John Junior

Dear John,
When paying for college, the first thing to do is fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Don't presume that your child won't qualify for aid because of your income. At a minimum, the child will be eligible for federal direct student loans.

I'm a proponent of the child taking on at least some of the cost of his education. He's investing in his future and will ideally reap some economic reward for doing it, so why not tie the loan to his future earnings versus yours? It also helps him focus on academic outcome if he has some skin in the game. You'll also have the ability to take out Parent Direct PLUS loans.

There's no magic solution here. The money to pay for college comes from somewhere. Either it comes from money you've saved, scholarships, grants, current income or loans obtained by one or both of you.

The potential benefits from using the equity in your home to finance college costs are: a lower interest rate and the mortgage interest deduction. The interest expense on a student loan and a PLUS loan, however, may also be tax deductible.

You say you're not ready to take on additional mortgage debt to finance your child's education. You may be unwilling to take out PLUS loans too. If that's the case, you need to discuss this with your child and work with him to put together a strategy to finance his college education on his own. Maybe he does his first two years at a community college. Maybe he takes a year off to work, to help with paying for college. Don't wait until next year to have this discussion.

Get more news, money-saving tips and expert advice by signing up for a free Bankrate newsletter.

Ask the adviser

To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the "Ask the Experts" page and select one of these topics: "Financing a home," "Saving & Investing" or "Money." Read more Dr. Don columns for additional personal finance advice.
 

Bankrate's content, including the guidance of its advice-and-expert columns and this website, is intended only to assist you with financial decisions. The content is broad in scope and does not consider your personal financial situation. Bankrate recommends that you seek the advice of advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances before making any final decisions or implementing any financial strategy. Please remember that your use of this website is governed by Bankrate's Terms of Use.

advertisement

Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us
  • at
  • Private student loan search by SimpleTuition.com
advertisement
FRUGAL NEWSLETTER

Discover new ways to cut costs and save more every day. Reduce your spending, not life’s pleasures. Delivered weekly.

advertisement
Partner Center
advertisement

Connect with us