There's a real crunch coming for those who have to finance a college education.
The government is pulling back on certain aid programs for students, and college costs are rising faster than ever.
The budget cutters in the Reagan administration and in Congress want to reduce the funds going into the Basic Education Opportunity Grant Program which provides up to $1,750 a year to qualified students. You don't have to pay it back.
One way to reduce the cost is to tighten up on the eligibility rules. As it stands now, families with incomes of up to $25,000 or even $30,000 (depending on the number of dependents and those going to college) might qualify for grants. If this income limit is dropped to $19,000, it would cut costs considerably and put grants out of reach for many students.
To make matters worse, the government has put a freeze on processing applications for grants until the eligibiity rule are cleared up. This is causing no end of consternation and confusion among families who were counting on financial aid for next fall.
Georgetown University's financial aid director, Kenneth Kohl, author of the excellent book, "Financing College Education" (Harper & Row), tells parents and students to fill out all the aid forms and send them in. The freeze won't last and your application will eventually be processed.
There's also a lot of confusion about the Guaranteed Student Loan Program which provides up to $2,500 a year at 9 percent interest (7 percent if you've already had a loan). Students who get this loan don't have to make any payments until nine months after they're out of college.
The budget cutters are aiming to set fairly strict eligibility rules for the loan program. As it stands now, anybody can qualify, be they paupers or princes. There's not income or asset limit.
The budget proposal would set an income limit so that loans would only go to specifically "needy" families. And the interest rate might be raised from the current 9 percent to a "floating rate" which would be pegged to U.S. Treasury offerings. This means you might have to pay as much as 14 or 15 percent for loan money.
But Congress has to act on these proposals and there's no way legislation can be passed fast enough to change things as far as next fall is concerned.
So if you're an anxious student (or parent), start making calls to banks in your area. Not all banks are making loans available to students. You may have to get in touch with your state's student loan authority. You can get names, addresses and phone numbers from college and university financial aid officers. Bank loan officers may also have the information you need on where to find your state student loan authority.
These state institutions may be able to locate a bank with loan money to fit your needs or, as a lender of last resort they may provide the necessary cash.
It's important that you get in touch with the financial aid officer at the college or university of your choice. Sometimes these officers have knowledge of other available funds. For example, some banks have special, non-subsidized loan money for familes with good credit ratings. You get a line of credit and you can draw on it to pay college bills as you get them. And the interest rate may range from 13 percent to 16 percent with up to eight years to pay.
Q. My husband and I are thinking about setting up a small business in our home. It would be a part-time thing that we hope might grow into a full-time occupation. Are there any guidelines you can give us?
A. People who have made a success out of their own small business say you should experiment first. Try working part-time in the field that interests you.
Once you've gained some experience, start off small with your venture. Keep overhead at a minimum. Work out of your home or work with someone who will give you free space in exchange for chores you can do.
Successful self-bossers say you should start out with enough savings plus solid business income to last at least two years (this is for people who want to make a complete breakaway from a full-time job). If you work at your new venture part-time and keep your full-time job, you can put your new earnings into savings. When you get enough to keep the roof over your head and food on your table, then you can consider making the break.