Despite the stock market decline,many households are betteroff financially than they were a fewyears ago, because of the boom inhome values. If you're worried thatthe increase in the equity in yourhome will affect Junior's chances atfinancial aid for college, relax. Theformula for federal college aid doesnot look at the equity in your homewhen calculating whether yourchild is eligible. And although individualcolleges may look at homeequity as a source of funds, it usuallyisn't weighted as heavily as liquidassets, such as mutual fundsand bank accounts. Still, it may beworth lowering your equity througha home-equity loan and using thecash to pay off other debts, likecredit card accounts, which aren'tsubtracted from your assets in theaid formula.