The Tuition Game

Advisers offer perplexed parents clever college-aid schemes. But where's the line between working the system -- and cheating it?

Given the price tag on a college diploma, even comfortably middle-class parents might be forgiven for wondering where to find $100,000 to send a child to a private college for four years. Many are convinced that if they were much richer -- or much poorer -- money would not be a problem. Some view a private- college education as an entitlement, much like unlimited high-tech health care. Such attitudes harden during difficult economic times and a tight job market, when a degree from a top school becomes all the more precious just when it is hardest to afford.

Congress has now...

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