Erasing High Anxiety of Tuition

If you're going to college in Massachusetts this fall, you're certainly not alone.

There are 117 institutions of higher learning in Massachusetts, the highest concentration of colleges and universities in the country, and nearly half of the colleges in New England.

Of course, some of the most prestigious school are here. And these colleges have graduated eight U. S. presidents and numerous heads of state from around the world. Half of America's Nobel Prize winners have been affiliated with Massachusetts Schools.

Massachusetts will welcome more than 400,000 students from more than 140 countries this fall.

Each will be arriving with money. For tuition. College tuition. Two words that strike terror in most parents' hearts.

At some point, if your offspring is thinking about college, you'll probably realize that your savings just won't pay for everything, and you'll have to start looking for financing.

If it's your first time looking, it can be confusing. Frightening. Expensive. But you can't put it off and expect to pay the bills in a timely manner..

Way back in my distant past (read 1960), my father informed me that my college choice would be the State University of Iowa. Period. It was affordable, in-state tuition, and, as I recall, about $700 a year covered about everything. At least they had a journalism school.

Today, $30,000 or more is not uncommon for private colleges. And, although we're working hard in Massachusetts to cut tuition costs at our state's colleges and university, four years of school, or more, can put a sizeable dent in the family checkbook.

Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) is ready to help finance the cost of higher education at graduate and undergraduate levels, if parents are willing to borrow the money. Borrow, that is, at interest rates lower than other funding sources. Lower, even, than the Federal governments PLUS loan program.

The rate for loans for the coming 1999-2000 school year is 6.85 percent. The lowest in MEFA's history.

You can borrow if you're attending any of 80 colleges in the state--Harvard, Westfield State, Boston College, Boston University, STCC, HCC, Mass Maritime, Tufts. And another 72.

And, you can borrow, even if you're going to attend school outside of the Commonwealth. The interest rate isn't quite as low (it's a fixed 8.85 percent with 15 year repayment terms).

If you want to know more, you can call MEFA's Director of External Relations at 617/261-9760. You'll find a lot of information on the internet at www.mefa.org. Or, call my Boston office and ask for the MEFA Loan Brochure. Please specify in-state or out-of-state colleges.

If you just want a great booklet, with an outline of all of the participating colleges, call 1/800-449-MEFA and ask for "Discover Massachusetts Colleges and Universities." (Don't call me on that one, I don't have it.) You'll find out where you can go to major in almost everything. And, find out how much it's going to cost.

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