Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Beat the college loan crunch

(Money Magazine) -- For families with children heading off to college, this has been the year from hell. First, a record number of applicants made 2008 the most competitive year ever for college admissions. Then the credit crunch hit the college market in a big way, igniting fears of a drought in financing for all students this fall.

Spurred by dwindling demand for packaged loans from investors and cuts on federal subsidies, more than 100 lenders in the government college loan program have pulled out of the market. Private lenders are leaving the college market too - 27 so far. Those who remain are making it tougher to qualify for loans, while jacking up rates and reducing discounts.

The result: If you're counting on a loan to pay tuition bills this fall, you're probably anxiously holding your breath, waiting to see if you'll be able to borrow what you need at a rate you can afford.

Is it harder to get a student loan? Tell us.
Well, Mom and Dad, you can officially exhale now. You'll be fine, if you just play it right. Unlike the crisis in the mortgage market, where politicians continue to argue about how to help without actually doing much, Uncle Sam in recent weeks has swooped in with a practical damage-control plan for college borrowers.

(More from CNN)