Free Information To Help You Plan for College, Straight From Uncle Sam

Government sources for the ultimate college search. 

While Academbot is, of course, a fantastic source of information about colleges and universities (and we let you create your own rankings, too!), the US government can also be a fantastic source of information about many aspects of going to college, especially if you’re looking for hard-to-find details such as cohort default rates (the number of people in a class who default on their student loans), details about retention and graduation, whether or not you can afford a particular school or even specifics about veterans’ benefits.

If you are seeking any of the above information, chances are the US government probably has a site dedicated to delivering that important information to you.

Here are a few of the best:

 

National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator

If there’s a nationally-recognized statistic collected from colleges and universities, you can bet it’s archived at the National Center for Education Statistics. And if you want to uncover those stats in a way that lets you compare schools, find specific, hard-to-find programs, or dig into hundreds of stats on thousands of colleges, their College Navigator is a great place to start. Because there’s so much information here on so many schools, it can be a bit hard to use for newbies, but if you’re looking for a tool that can help you narrow down your choices after you’ve had some experience in the college search game, College Navigator is a great site to visit.

 

College Affordability and Transparency Center

In most surveys of prospective college students, “affordability” is usually at the top of the list of things people like you are concerned about. And who wouldn’t be? After all, if you can’t afford to go to the school, it may as well not be on your list.

But while “affordability” is in the name of the site, the College Affordability and Transparency Center is way more than just a tool that helps you calculate whether or not you can afford a particular school. From here you can link to the government’s College Scoreboard, a site that provides vital statistics about every college and university in the country in order to help you make an informed decision. You can also get to a very useful Net Price Calculator that helps you figure out what a school will really cost, access a list of the most questionable for-profit institutions (the so-called “90/10” list), and see just how much every state is spending on aid to schools, student aid, tuition and fees. If you want to be an informed consumer of higher education, this is the place to start.

 

Explore Financial Aid

Finding the right school can be confusing, but navigating the intricacies of financial aid can be downright maddening. But if you’re confused about what your different financial aid options might be, how loans work, how going to college will impact your (and your parents’) taxes, or just want to take a shot at forecasting how much you’ll need for college, this page has it all.

 

Federal Student Aid Resources

Everybody who’s planning on going to college will probably find their way here at some point since it’s the place to download the supremely important FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. If you haven’t done so already, do yourself a favor and download it today. But don’t stop there: from this site you’ll have access to information on all of the government’s college prep and financial aid programs, information about student loans, tips on how to avoid college scams and identity theft and even download braille versions of the government’s official college-related publications.

 

grants.gov

Who doesn’t like free money? That’s what grants.gov is all about. While it can be pretty daunting at first, for students (or prospective students) seeking alternative sources of funding for their college education, grants.com is worth look. And once you get to college, make sure you check back: there are loads of opportunities here for funding just about every research interest imaginable.

 

GI Bill info for Veterans

If you’re a vet (or soon to be a veteran), you know exactly how difficult it can be to deal with the intricate rules and regulations that rule the government. The Veteran’s Administration has taken its share of licks recently over issues with healthcare, but this site might actually help change your opinion by providing a clear, concise and easy-to-use way to learn about all the ins-and-outs of the GI Bill benefits you have coming to you. It can even help you find schools particularly focused on veterans, as well as links to information on benefits to survivors, dependents and spouses. If you’re in the military now and planning on going to college or are a veteran thinking about going back to school, you owe it to yourself to start here in order to educate yourself about the benefits you’re entitled to receive for your service.

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