From College Cost Calculators to Financial Aid Advice
There are tons of excellent college preparation resources to help you in your college search, but when it comes to helping you understand your family’s college costs, there are some standout sites to help with college cost calculators and financial aid advice.
Here are the helpful college websites I found the most useful when writing Your Teen‘s recent feature article, Making College Affordable With These Ten Expert Tips. Please let me know in the comments below if you have any favorites I should add. Thanks and good luck!
Yes, it’s run by the folks who administer the SATs, but Collegeboard.org is packed with helpful information and offers an easy way to get a quick read on the kinds (and average amounts) of financial aid a college offers. To find out what you’re eligible for search for your school . Click on Paying to get an overview of the sticker price (don’t panic); then click on Financial Aid by the Numbers. This is where the key data is. You’ll want to check percentage of “need” met if you’re seeking need-based financial aid, as well as the average need-based scholarship . If you need non need-based aid, you’ll find average amounts here too. These are not personalized numbers (you need to fill in the net price calculator for that), but they do give you a read on how generous an institution tends to be.
If you want an even quicker read on average costs, check out the new College Scorecard by the U.S. Department of Education. It eschews sticker prices altogether and shows average net price for all students.
College cost calculators
To find an NPC for any school you may be considering, simply google net price calculator and the school’s name (e.g. net price calculator Boston University).
Net price calculators only provide estimates for freshman year. Use Collegenavigator to get an idea of how your aid package may change for subsequent years (because it will at almost half of schools). Search the name of your school, click on Financial Aid, and compare the numbers for “full-time beginning undergraduate students” and “all undergraduate students.”
Remember, the goal is to keep student loan debt to no more (and ideally less) than your teenager’s starting salary. Visit www.payscale.com/college-salary-report/majors-that-pay-you-back/bachelors for a list of starting and mid-career salaries for 300-plus bachelor’s degrees. If your teenager plans to go to graduate school, use that list instead (you’ll want to limit debt for undergraduate and graduate combined to those starting salaries).
This website offers a plethora of advice and detailed information on everything from the college search to applying for financial aid and evaluating student loans. There’s even a scholarship search, and be sure to also check out Edvisor’s popular ScholarshipPoints.com.
This free, online database helps you explore more than a million scholarships.