(PHILADELPHIA) – If the price of milk had gone up at the same rate as the cost of college since the 1970s, you’d now be paying 15 dollars for a gallon of milk.  But families continue to find a way to pay the ever-escalating cost of a college education.

Still, they have to be resourceful.

Let’s imagine a sensible, middle-class family who are having a baby back in 1993.  They have 18 years to save for college, so they aim for an elite school and put away $5,000 a year.

That child will be ready for higher education this September.  But that college fund? It won’t even cover the first two years.

“Oh my god, of course it makes me crazy. The bills come in and they just don’t stop,” says Julia Barol, the parent of a college student.  She and other parents are getting to the end of their ropes:  they’re taking out second mortgages and dipping into 401K’s, but mostly they’re co-signing student loans.

corrigan john byloeb side Part 4:  How To Pay For College

(Photo by Pat Loeb)

“I don’t know anyone who comes out of college not in debt,” says John Corrigan (right), a senior at Temple University.  He considers himself in good shape — he’ll only have about $10,000 in loans when he graduates.

Corrigan also got grants, which used to be a significant help for low-income students.  Now, with more people going to college and state aid budgets cut, those funds are stretched much thinner and, because tuition keeps rising, they cover ever less of the cost.

Still, Barbara Mattleman, of the Mayor’s Office of Education in Philadelphia, says grants could make a modestly priced college affordable — if students get information about how to get them.

“It’s very scary and it’s very daunting, and one of the things that we say is that there are literally millions of dollars in scholarship that go untapped every year,” she told KYW Newsradio recently.

Mattleman’s office has lots of information. You can contact the Mayor’s Office of Education at phillygoes2college.com.

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio 1060.

Hear the Regional Affairs Council podcasts…

Part 1: Why Is College So Expensive?
Part 2: Public vs. Private Colleges
Part 3: Is College Worth The Money?
Part 4: How To Pay For College

Watch & Listen LIVE