If you're looking for college money and you think your income may be too high to qualify for a government-backed student loan, look again.
Last November, President Carter signed into law the "Middle Income Assistance Act," which removed the income requirements from the guaranteed student loan program.
This means that almost anybody is eligible for one of these cheapie loans to finance a college education. Previously, you had to financially confess yourself and, if your income was above a certain level or you had too many assets, you couldn't get the loan.
The loans are a real bargain. You can get up to $2,500 a year, totalling $7,500, for undergraduate studies and another $7,500 for graduate school. This comes to a limit of $15,000.
Interest on these loans is only 7 percent, which is at least half of the going rate elsewhere. You might have to be a good credit risk, but you don't have to put up any collateral. The loans can be paid back in 10 years and you don't have to start paying until nine months after the student graduates or drops out. If the loan agreement is signed before the student is 18, the parents have to co-sign. After 18, the student signs alone and is the one responsible for repayment.
Some parents make all the payments for the student, and some share the responsibility. Others depend on the student paying back the money from wages earned after graduation.
There are a number of catches to these easy loans. In most states, you have to get the loan through your bank, savings and loan or credit union. Not all of these banking institutions have money for student loans.
There are, however, ways to get a loan even if you do business with an institution that has no loan money or you haven't had an account long enough (some require a one- to two-year "relationship"). Some states and local governments will help you find a place that will give you a loan or will arrange the loan for you. Most colleges and universities are able to suggest places to go for loans.
If you have a high-school senior or junior who wants to go to college, or someone already in college, check with your banking or savings institution now. If you can't get a loan, you might consider switching to an institution that will arrange a loan immediately or in a year's time.
Because loans are limited to $2,500 a year, with a limit of $7,500 for undergraduate or graduate school, you can start borrowing one year from now and still get the total limit.
The loans cover tuition, room, board, books, fees and transportation.The student and the school each has to fill in part of a voluminous form. But nobody has to answer questions about income and assets.
A few states, such as Michigan, have put an income limit on the funds that they lend out. But this doesn't cover federally-backed student loans you get through your bank or savings institution.
If you have a low enough income or you have a house full of kids all wanting to go to college, you might qualify for a grant-in-aid package that can include up to $1,800 a year free, a 3 percent loan and a work-study job. Whatever loan you get, you do have to pay it back. If the student defaults, the government can attach his or her future wages.
Q: In your column that listed various organizations that might be of service to older people, you mentioned a "National Tenants' Organization." I wrote them and my letter was returned by the post office. A: Shortly after I wrote the column, the organization moved to this address: National Tenants' Organization, 1025 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20005.
Another organization I mentioned in an earlier column has also moved. It's Mature Temps, a part-time job finder for older people. The main office for Mature Temps is: 1114 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10036. Mature Temps branch offices can be found in California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia.