Parents often play a major role in the process of choosing and paying for a student’s college education. Portland resident Laurie Mack and her husband are going through that process for the second time in three years. Their daughter, Samantha, is a sophomore at Simmons College in Boston, and their son, James, is a senior at Deering High School. He has not yet chosen a school but is considering the University of Maine in Orono, Mack said.

“Parents are stressed about first getting them accepted, and then how are we going to pay for it,” she said.

Mack said the family plans to pay for college in a variety of ways. Samantha has received merit-based scholarships and taken out federally subsidized student loans. She also qualified for a substantial amount of financial aid. For the rest, her parents are drawing on a home equity line of credit to help out. Mack said they looked into taking out privately issued student loans but found them prohibitively expensive.

The annual cost to attend Simmons is about $50,000. Based on their family income, Samantha and her parents are expected to cover about half that amount, not including merit-based scholarships.

Next year, with two kids attending college at the same time, the Macks’ overall expected family contribution will not change – it merely will be split between two students.