AMBITIOUS parents are increasingly trading private school fees for a bigger mortgage in an attempt to get their children into Queensland's most popular state schools. A Right to Information investigation by The Courier-Mail reveals the drastic lengths parents are taking. Many are selling their homes to buy or rent inside the school's catchment to meet strict enrolment criteria, while others are lodging desperate appeals with school enrolment committees to show leniency. But schools are holding a firm line as they battle overcrowding. Two of Queensland's most popular state high schools, the Gold Coast's Palm Beach Currumbin State High and Brisbane State High, have knocked back scores of enrolment applications because students do not live within the defined catchment. Palm Beach Currumbin School received 40 applications last year from students outside the catchment. The school is among 216 statewide with Enrolment Management Plans in place, which limit enrolments to students in the local catchment. EMP schools have discretion to accept students from outside, including those who qualify on merit. Education Queensland has previously warned that Brisbane State High School could be forced to stop taking meritorious students from outside its catchment as it struggles to meet rising demand from the local area. It already has more students than its official capacity. Ray White South Brisbane agent Luke Croft said he had seen a huge rise in buyers searching for a property within the Brisbane State High catchment after deciding to swap expensive school fees for a bigger mortgage, with most currently living 10km-20km from the boundary. Michelle Fuller moved into Highgate Hill from the more affordable Wellington Point 14 months ago so her son Perry could attend Brisbane State High School. "The savings on private school fees are quite significant," Ms Fuller said. "Me and a lot of people I talk to have considered the costs." Harcourts Proactive business owner John Kalaja said he has had buyers from as far as Japan moving into the catchment area to ensure their primary-aged children could eventually attend the school. Ray White Ascot principal Dwight Ferguson said Ascot State School was a big drawcard for homebuyers in the area and the first question often asked was: "Is this home in the catchment area?". "People will settle for less (in a home) to be in the catchment," he said.