Come this fall, parents with children attending college will be receiving tuition bills, and chances are many of those bills will have a funding gap that is too often difficult for the parents to close.

The problem is, usually by this time parents have set aside a planned amount for college, which means that the savings account has already been tapped, scholarships have been exhausted and donations have been depleted.

So what’s a parent to do?

No need to panic. There are financing options available to get you through. The question, however, is this: Which loan option is best?

Beth Walker is all too familiar with this scenario. Walker, a financial advisor and the founder of the Center for College Solutions, a coalition committed to making college an affordable reality for all families, cautions clients not to get locked into the mind-set that college can be paid for using only certain tools.

“That’s killing us as parents,” she said. “The financial institutions have done a marvelous job of convincing us that these are our only options, and that’s not true,” she added.

Indeed, parents have voiced concerns that college counselors are quick to steer them to a Parent PLUS Loan or a private parent loan. But don’t buy into it, Walker said.

She said parents should understand that college is like any other major capital purchase—anything we buy that we can’t pay for fully with monthly cash flows.

“Historically, that’s been houses and cars,” she said.

And because the cost of college today is almost as much as it would be to buy another house, Walker said the job of a parent is to evaluate which financing options are as cash-flow efficient and tax-efficient as possible.

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