By MELISSA KORN
Weeks or even days before classes start, hundreds of thousands of college students nationwide still don't know whether they'll be able to cover their tuition bills this year. . .
Even where state budgets are more secure, parental layoffs and shrinking savings accounts have imperiled college funding for many, sending students and their parents scrambling to find last-minute sources of money for school. . .
All students can get up to $2,000 in unsubsidized federal Stafford loans. Those with financial need can take out other Stafford loans—as much as $5,500—as well as Pell Grants and low-interest Perkins loans. Aid officers say even parents should apply for government loans; if they are denied, their children will be eligible for higher Stafford loan limits.
Because many schools require at least some payment before registration, students who don't expect money to come through for weeks or months can pursue school-sponsored emergency loans. The terms are generally more attractive than private loans, from an interest-free loan of up to $300 at Purdue University to 7% for up to $1,500 at the University of Denver. Those loans are intended to be emergency stopgaps and require repayment in as little as a few weeks.
Students who still find tuition bills daunting can ask about tuition payment plans, which allow payments to be made in small installments. Southern Methodist University in Dallas, for example, offers a half-dozen options with terms ranging from four to 12 months, with enrollment fees of $50 to $150.
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