College price transparency
- College Scorecard: This U.S. Department of Education tool allows you to compare colleges and fields of study across key statistics including median student loan debt and post-graduation median salary.
- TuitionFit: Compare actual college prices from real financial aid offers
- SwiftStudent: Get free help writing a financial aid appeal letter
Test out of college courses
- AP Courses: These are college-level courses offered in high school. Based on qualifying exam scores, you can earn college credit or advanced placement. Click here to search institution credit policies.
- CLEP: The College Board’s College-Level Examination Program allows students to earn college credit for information they already know. CLEP offers 34 exams that cover material generally covered in courses in the first two years of college for a reduced price. Search institution policies here.
Freshman Year for Free
Offered by the nonprofit Modern States Education Alliance, the Freshman Year for Free program allows students to earn free college credits. Here’s how it works:
- Students take free online classes created by Modern States. The courses are taught by professors from top colleges and universities and prepare students to test out of introductory courses via CLEP exams.
- After completing each course, students take the corresponding CLEP exam for free via a voucher provided by Modern States.
- Students send their CLEP scores to their college or university to receive credit. More than 2,900 institutions accept CLEP credits.
- NACAC College Openings Update – Options for Qualified Students: This is a voluntary listing of NACAC member institutions that are still accepting applications from prospective freshmen and/or transfer students for the upcoming fall term.
- Strive Virtual College Exploration: Watch recorded virtual college presentations.
- Transferology: If you are considering attending junior or community college before transferring to a 4-year institution, check this website to make sure all of your courses are transferable. You don’t want to waste time and money taking classes that won’t be given credit.
Choose the Right College Fit
- Target, Reach, and Safety Schools: Apply to 3-8 colleges. This list should be made up of 1-3 target schools, 1-3 reach schools and 1-3 safety schools.
- College Board Big Future Super Match: Students can use this tool to determine which colleges have the criteria they consider most important.
- Illinois College Fairs Calendar: Attend virtual college fairs to learn more about institutions you are interested in.
Virtual Campus Tours
- CampusTours: Video tours, photorealistic interactive campus maps, mobile walking tours and custom data-driven multimedia applications for education, non-profit and government clients worldwide.
- YouVisit: Use 360 Immersive Technology to visit college campuses across the United States, no matter where you are.
- CampusReel: View student-driven virtual college tours from the comfort of your own home.
- YOUniversity: Watch video tours from colleges all over the country.
Tools to Help Pay for College
There are many, many options when it comes to finding resources to help you figure out the best way to pay for college. There are blogs, websites, coaches, and more. Unfortunately, a lot of the advice out there can miss the mark and leave you paying more for college than you need to.
- StudentAid.gov: StudentAid.gov is the main site for students created by the Department of Education. This should be the first stop in the process for families that will be borrowing money to pay for school. This site provides information about loan types, what you may qualify for, and different repayment plans available after graduation. They also provide tools to help understand the repayment process.
- FinAid.org: FinAid.org is the premiere source for navigating the complex world of financial aid. FinAid.org covers everything from student loan debt to scholarships and grants. They also provide detailed information on how to lower your EFC and increase your financial aid. Financial Aid Directors also use it as a resource to make their final decisions on how rule on an appeal for additional financial aid.
- Fastweb: Fastweb focuses on scholarships, internships, and career advice. It’s considered to be one of the best sites on the web for finding college scholarships. They also have a great internship search tool. Internships are another great way to boost your skills (and income) while in school. They also recently launched a service to help students search for private student loan options.
- Edvisors: Edvisors focus on financial planning. They cover financial aid advice, student loans, scholarships, and more. They also maintain accurate resources on borrowing money for college and repaying your student loans.
- Consumer Finance Protection Bureau: The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) has put together an excellent resource on paying for college. They have created guides that help you understand your financial aid offer, compare financing offers, and understanding student debt. They also have tools to help students with things like banking.