While the financial aid package is intended to meet the demonstrated need of each family, most families must finance the "expected family contribution" over a number of months or years.
Home Equity Loans
pro: interest is typically tax deductible; long repayment periods
con: dependent on equity in home; home is collateral; may have closing costs
pro: early withdraws for qualified education expenses usually not subject to tax penalties
con: future interest lost on investment; potentially putting retirement at risk
pro: usually borrowed from cash value or dividends of whole life insurance; usually low fixed interest rate
con: if not repaid, reduces the investment earnings and death benefits; not usually tax deductible
Retirement Savings (401k and 403b)
pro: withdraws may be allowed for qualified education expenses
con: future interest lost on investment; potentially putting retirement at risk; taxed on withdrawal
This is not recommended. Do not finance any costs associated with college on your credit card. Educational loans offer better rates and advantages than credit cards.