Helpful College and Financial Aid Planning Web Resources
The internet is a great source of information to help you identify likely-fit colleges and conduct a successful college search. Remember, sites often reflect the bias or agenda of the agents who provide them. Consider everything you find on the internet (or through any other search medium) subject to bias and evaluate critically everything you learn. There’s good information available – just draw your own conclusions; don’t let someone else draw them for you!
The sites presented here are good places to start. Most are free, a few have a nominal charge. Some require that you register and create an account. Explore them and see where they take you – have fun!
Net Price Calculators
Net Price Calculators, or NPCs, are required by law to be available on every college’s website. They are intended to give you a personalized estimate of your first-year cost as a full-time first year student. Because they’re important, and because ScholarFITS has a special expertise with NPCs, we’ve created a special page devoted specifically to all things NPC – check it out!
Financial Aid Resources
https://www.fafsa.gov/ – The official federal site for filling in the FAFSA, which is required for most financial aid. This is the official financial aid form required at all colleges. Completing it at this government website is free.
https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org/ – The CSS Profile is required in addition to the FAFSA at about 200 selective US colleges. This is a secondary aid application form required for about 200 colleges, including most highly selective colleges. The College Board charges a fee to complete this form.
https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/ – College Navigator is a great source of statistical information on college cost, financial aid, admissions information, and more. This site is free, and requires no contact information.
https://www.finaid.org/ – This site is a free source of general financial aid information with lots of detail.
https://www.cappex.com/scholarships – Information about outside scholarships from sources other than colleges. May require contact information.
https://www.fastweb.com/ – Information about outside scholarships from sources other than colleges. May require contact information.
https://collegecost.ed.gov/ – Department of Education’s cost transparency center. The site is free, and requires no contact information.
https://www.consumerfinance.gov/paying-for-college/ – Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s college section. The site is free, and requires no contact information.
https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/calculate-your-cost/expected-family-contribution – EFC calculator, Calculates both FAFSA EFC (called FM) and Profile EFC (called IM). Knowing the EFC by itself won’t give you an estimate of how much you’ll pay at a given college – for that you need to use a Net Price Calculator. But knowing the EFC can tell you if you’ll qualify for a federal Pell grant or many state need-based grants. It can also tell you if you don’t qualify for need-based aid – if your EFC is higher than the college’s published cost of attendance (the sticker price).
With over 2,000 four-year colleges, narrowing down a list is a challenge. These sites have tools to identify colleges based on factors like where they’re located, majors, size, and so on.
Some students want a liberal arts degree that’s not focused on a particular job. Others know they want to go into health care, engineering, a trade, architecture, etc. In any event, it’s helpful to start thinking about your personality type and what kind of job you’ll want when you graduate.
https://www.humanmetrics.com/personality – Free Myers-Briggs personality test.
https://www.mynextmove.org/ – Career info sponsored by US Dept of Labor.
Along with GPA, test scores are commonly used in making admissions decisions. Even if optional for admissions, they’re often required for college scholarships. At colleges with merit aid, they can be a critical factor in how much aid you’ll be offered.
https://www.act.org/ – Official ACT site.
https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/sat – Official SAT site.
https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/what-is-ap – AP information.
https://fairtest.org/ – Information about test-optional colleges.
There’s disagreement about how much test prep can improve your scores, but just about everyone thinks it helps to practice so you’ll know the test format and process. The College Board and ACT have links from their sites to info. Here are some additional resources.
https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/sat – Page links to SAT test prep, including the ability to link to your results from your previous PSAT or SAT tests. Khan Academy also has pre-college learning resources.
https://www.number2.com/ – Fee-based prep for SAT, ACT, GRE, CPA tests.
Diversity and Learning Differences
Everyone is unique, but some people face special challenges because they come from groups who have faced discrimination in the past, are the first in their family to go to college, or because they learn differently than most. Here are sites that focus on these populations.
http://www.firstinthefamily.org/highschool/index.html – For first generation college students.
http://collegeacademicsupport.com/ – For students with disabilities or medical conditions.
https://www.campuspride.org/ – Deals with LGBT issues.
https://www.collegexpress.com/interests/multicultural/ – Various articles and links on diversity issues.
Resources for Athletes
Full-ride athletic scholarships are rare, but some scholarship aid is available at Division I and Division II colleges based on athletic achievement and talent. Aid at Division III colleges is awarded without regard to athletics.
https://web3.ncaa.org/ecwr3/ – Eligibility information from the NCAA.
https://www.ncaa.org/sports/d3 – The NCAA’s site for Division III information. Athletic scholarships aren’t awarded at D-III schools, but athletic achievement can still play a role in admissions.
https://www.naia.org/landing/index – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics is a competitor to the NCAA. There are about 250 NAIA colleges compared with about 1,100 in the 3 divisions of the NCAA.
https://www.njcaa.org/landing/index – The National Junior College Athletic Association.
Other Helpful and Interesting Resources
Here’s an assortment of sites that offer additional perspectives on the college search process.
https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/best-colleges/ – College search and reviews.
https://www.collegeconfidential.com/ – More reviews and comments.
https://www.usnews.com/education?top_nav_Education – The granddaddy of college rankings. Don’t take them too seriously, but the site can be helpful as a search and data resource.
https://apply.jhu.edu/college-planning-guide/essays-that-worked/ – Essays that admissions officers at Johns Hopkins found compelling.