Preparing for College
Smart529 College Savings Calculator
This handy tool will help you figure out how much your savings will become over time.
Studentaid.gov's College Matching Wizard
If you need help finding schools that fit your academic profile and interests, this program will do the leg work for you. Plug in your info to get some suggestions on schools that could be the perfect fit.
Get the real skinny on how much aid the college of your dreams offers and how much the average student in your income bracket is awarded in grants and scholarships. This site is also great for researching admission stats, graduation rates, and how much tuition increases on average each year.
How much money can you expect the government to give you? Find out here. This calculator will give you a ballpark estimate on what your expected family contribution will be and how much government aid you can expect.
Finding Scholarships and Grants
Perhaps the best scholarship search engine out there, this site narrows down your scholarship hunt according to your academic profile, extracurricular interests, schools of choice, and affiliations.
If you don't think you qualify for need-based aid, head here. Specializing in merit-based awards (no financial need necessary), this site can hook you up with awards you never knew existed.
Awards for Volunteers and Public Servants
Find awards aimed at save-the-world types just like yourself.
Financial Aid for Undocumented Students
Here's how to pay for college if you are not a permanent US resident.
Shmoop's Scholarship Guide
We have our very own listing of some of the scholarships you just should not miss.
Applying For Aid
The mother of financial aid forms, this site will hook you up with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and walk you through how to fill it out. To get your hands on the most aid, apply as close to January 1 of the year you will be attending school as possible.
Some private colleges require students to fill out this form in addition to the FAFSA. The CSS Profile costs a fee, but the investment is well worth it.
If you need a refresher course in government financial aid programs, head here. This site will contain the most up-to-date information on government financial aid awards and eligibility requirements.
Finding Student Loans
Compare Student Loans
Find and compare private student loans with this online tool. While you are at it, compare these rates with those at your local banks and credit unions.
Student Loan Calculator
How much can you save by paying off your loan early?
Peer to Peer Loans
Instead of opting for pricey private loans, try borrowing from a private individual. Peer to peer lending sites like Lending Club and Prosper allow you to borrow money to pay for school, but won't provide the same borrower protections like deferment, forebearance, and income-based repayment options as the federal government.
A must-see for students paying back federal loans, this site outlines how to cap your monthly student loan payments AND coax the government into dismissing some of your debt.
Other Ways to Eliminate College Costs
Education Tax Credits
The IRS outlines how to get a tax break by going to college here.
Academic Reciprocation Agreements
The Academic Common Market and the Western Undergraduate Exchange are two of the largest reciprocation agreements in the country. Head here if you would like to attend a public out-of-state college for in-state prices.
These schools require students to work but reward them with hefty financial aid.
30 Ways to Reduce College Costs
From hitting up a community college for a few years to cooperative education programs, the government explains how not to go broke while you are in school.