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Clock's Ticking for Student Loan Applicants

PLUS loans are made to parents, regardless of need. They carry a fixed rate of 8.5% for the life of the loan. Parents who qualify based on credit scores can borrow up to the full amount of the cost of college for the year, less any student loans. Some schools participate in a Federal direct lending program for PLUS loans, and on those loans the rate is "only" 7.9%.

Warning: Don't Over-Borrow

Kevin Walker, CEO of, has a warning for families: While there is money available if you act quickly, you need to keep your four-year plan in perspective.

Says Walker: "Just because you can borrow huge sums of money for college, it doesn't mean you should.

You get the picture. You'll need good credit and an immediate search to find money for college this fall. Don't delay. But also don't get so involved in this "treasure hunt" that you forget the ultimate cost of borrowing -- either to you, the graduate, or to your parent's retirement plans.

It's important to sit down and figure out the costs vs. the benefits. Part-time attendance at a community college may be the answer for some students, who can then transfer and complete their studies at a state school. Even online university degrees are looking attractive these days, if you have the self discipline.

And more expensive schools are going to be forced to give out more of their endowment money in the form of scholarships and grants that don't have to be repaid.

If they don't, they'll be faced with dwindling enrollment as more and more families conclude they simply can't afford the most expensive version of the college dream. And that's The Savage Truth.

RealMoney Barometer Poll
1What would best describe your stance heading into the coming week of trading?                    
2Which of these sectors do you think is set to move up in the coming week?                    
3Which of these sectors do you think is set to move down in the coming week?                    

    View the results without voting    
Terry Savage is an expert on personal finance and also appears as a commentator on national television on issues related to investing and the financial markets. Savage's personal finance column in the Chicago Sun-Times is nationally syndicated. She was the first woman trader on the Chicago Board Options Exchange and is a registered investment adviser for stocks and futures. Savage currently serves as a director of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Corp.
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