Your house is an asset. That means that when you have a significant expense, it should be able to help you pay for it, right?
The good news is that your home CAN help you pay for college. The bad news is that some options require you to take on additional debt. Others, however, do not.
Take a look at all the ways your home can help you pay for college – from debt to an investment partnership that can help you save money.
Home Equity Loan
A home equity loan is what most people think of when they want to use their home to pay for college. This involves borrowing against the paid-off value you have built in your property over the years.
With this type of loan, you get:
- A lump sum cash amount
- Immediate repayment
- A long payoff period
You can gain equity in your home by making payments over many years, or by having your home increase in value. Either way, a lender will give you a portion of your equity in cash, and your home will be collateral.
With such a strong asset backing the loan, it’s generally easy to qualify for home equity financing. You may also be able to get a lower interest rate than other school loans offer.
Keep in mind that federal student loans should always be a first option. However, when those have been fully utilized, a home equity loan may be a good choice compared to private student loans.
Using a Home Equity Line of Credit to Pay for College
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is another way to take advantage of the equity in your home. It’s more flexible than the home equity loan because you don’t borrow a lump sum all at once.
Instead, you have a line of credit where the equity value is like a credit card. You can use it, pay it off, and use it again. This can be very helpful if you want to minimize borrowing, or make sure that you only borrow exactly what you need.
Where a home equity loan may have a fixed interest rate, and HELOC generally has a variable interest rate. The line of credit can help if you don’t know exactly how much money you’ll need – which can happen because freshman funding may not last all four years. The sophomore-senior college years can be a financial question mark.
The credit in a HELOC is available for a certain number of years, known as the “draw period.” This can be very helpful if you have multiple children entering college over a 2 – 5-year window, for instance. After the draw period, you enter the repayment period, where the credit is no longer available. During that time, you focus only on paying it off.
Questions to Consider Before Choosing an Equity Loan or HELOC
Both a home equity loan and HELOC lay a lot on the line. As a result, you should be sure you ask some questions before you commit to them.
These questions include:
- How will the debt and the payoff period affect your retirement plans?
- Have you fully utilized other lower-cost borrowing options?
- Have you carefully chosen the most affordable and most generous school for your student’s situation?
- How much money do you actually need?
- Have you taken into account student work opportunities, family gifts, and other funding?
Your home is at stake if you aren’t able to repay the loan. That can put your family in a precarious position, just as your children are striking out on their own. If that seems like a heavy concern, you may want to look at a third way that your home can help you pay for college.
Choosing an Investment Partnership to Pay for College
Did you know that there are real estate investors who like to invest in homes over the long term, waiting for property values to increase to make their profit?
There’s a company named Unison that brings those investors together with individual homeowners. This means you can get money from your home and make no payments!
It’s not debt. It’s a partnership. Here’s how it works:
- You do a prequalification to see if you qualify. No credit is impacted.
- If you do qualify, you move into a full application.
- Once the application is complete, Unison makes a preliminary financial offer.
- Unison sets up a home appraisal and makes a final formal offer.
- You receive up to 20% of the value of your home, minus a 3.9% transaction fee, in cash
- When you’re ready to sell your home, you repay Unison and share the appreciation or depreciation of the home’s value.
There are no monthly payments, no interest, and no debt. Unison is betting that your home value will increase over time. Even if yours, specifically, doesn’t, other homes they invest in will, leading to an overall win.
Unison is not intended to be a short-term investment, so you shouldn’t choose this option if you plan to leave your home in less than three years. However, for most families with college-bound students, this is an incredible option!
You don’t have to take on debt. You don’t make monthly payments. You can’t be forced out of your home. The partnership lasts up to 30 years or until the last signer passes away or the home is sold. If your home value goes down, Unison shares that loss with you. If it goes up, you both enjoy the profit.
Unison is a great way to pay for college without putting your future at risk. We can’t recommend highly enough that you give it a look.
How Will Your Home Help You Pay for College?
How will you take advantage of the value of your home? Will you borrow against your equity? Get a home equity line of credit? Or perhaps partner with investors to get value from your home with no payments at all?
No one can make important financial decisions for you, so be sure you fully research each option. Part of the puzzle is finding a generous and affordable school. We can help with that – Grab our paying for college toolkit, and check out our blog for more advice on saving money during school!
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