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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Timberlane parents worried about paying for college

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane parents worried about paying for college UNH financial aid expert gives advice on how to get money
By Margo Sullivan

PLAISTOW — With the credit crunch tightening, parents of college-bound seniors hit the books last night to find out how they can pay for their children's higher education.

More than 120 anxious parents packed a classroom at Timberlane Regional High School to pick up tips from Jennifer Smith, associate director of financial aid at the University of New Hampshire.

Many parents said they are unsure how they will swing college tuition without taking out a bank loan.

"That's the worry," Don Olmstead of Sandown said. His son, Patrick, 17, is relying on his parents to pay for college.

"We plan to pay a portion in cash and finance the rest," Olmstead said, so it will be a problem if credit is frozen.

John Sullivan of Sandown said he did not know of any other way to pay for college than student loans. His daughter is applying to Salem State College and Merrimack College.

The federal government will continue to provide students loans, Smith said. Over the past 18 to 24 months, the frozen credit problems have caused UNH to direct federal Stafford Loan recipients to the government's direct lending programs, rather than commercial lenders.

A Stafford Loan will provide up to $5,500 a year for a college freshman. The average cost of attending UNH for a year comes to $24,100 for an in-state student who lives on campus, she said.

Other student loans are available through colleges, she said, so parents should make sure they do not miss the schools' financial aid deadlines.

In her 90-minute presentation, Smith said the student and the family bear the main responsibility of paying for college. In most cases, financial aid will not cover the whole cost of attending school, and students and parents must come up with the rest.

She could not estimate how many high school seniors will have to defer college due to the commercial credit crisis.

"I cannot speak to that at this point," she said. "It's a volatile market. Obviously, lenders have increased (credit) scores."

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