Saving and Paying for College

where to start

Saving for your child’s college education can be stressful, confusing, and intimidating. This page is geared towards helping both parents and students navigate the waters of college costs.

How much you plan on saving depends on many factors, including your ability to save, the type of college or vocational school your student wants to attend, and how much financial assistance you wish to provide. Use the College Savings Calculator below to get a ballpark figure that can be adjusted based on your preferences, then take a look at College Savings 101 to decide where you want those savings to grow.

If your student is already applying to colleges, it’s time to start checking out financial aid! There are thousands of grant and scholarship options available to students from the college they choose, sites such as fastweb.com, or guides like the College Board Scholarship Handbook (available at the library).

If you have determined that you or your student will need to take out a loan for college, be sure to research the options thoroughly, and be aware of the repayment options and obligations.

Federal Student Aid & FAFSA

Federal Student Aid (fafsa.ed.gov), a part of the U.S. Department of Education, helps make college possible by providing grants, loans, and work-study funds. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application that students will fill out every year to help colleges determine their aid eligibility.

At this site, you can find FAFSA deadlines, school codes, instructions for filing, and the FAFSA application itself. The FAFSA4caster is a useful tool for estimating your eligibility for federal student aid.

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress that works to protect investors and enforce ethical standards. Their Tools & Calculators include a 529 College Savings Plan Expense Analyzer, College Savings Calculator, and Kids Calculator.

College Board

College Board is a not-for-profit that was founded to expand access to higher education. Helpful sections of their website include Pay for College, where you can find advice on get an estimate of college costs, view webinars, and read on a variety of topics from Starting Your College Search to Financial Aid 101.

Registration for the SAT, as well as information on taking the PSAT and  AP (Advanced Placement) tests, are also available through College Board. If you would like to research colleges, you can do so Big Future, a section that provides an interactive guide to choosing your next step.

The Bryan + College Station libraries have a variety of College Board titles, including College Handbook 2017 and Scholarship Handbook 2017.

Grants & Scholarships

The thousands of grants and scholarships available to prospective students can be overwhelming. There are sites and books to help you narrow down your choices. A few helpful websites include:

Titles by the College Board, Peterson’s, the Princeton Review come out every year with updated advice and information on financial aid, including grants & scholarships. Most are available at the Bryan + College Station Libraries. Ask a librarian to help you find the most recent publication!

College Rankings

College rankings inform a great many families’ decisions. Vocational schools, community colleges, and universities are ranked by many different organizations and on many different aspects. Essentially, no matter what ranking is important to you (Engineering program? Diversity? Quality of food?), you can find a list to help you.

This is only a small sampling of websites that rank colleges & universities. Be sure to thoroughly research a website’s background (Are they biased? Is it for- or non-profit?) before you take their rankings to heart.

Titles by the College Board, Peterson’s, the Princeton Review come out every year with updated rankings on colleges and universities. Most are available at the Bryan + College Station Libraries. Ask a librarian to help you find the most recent publication!

Rev. 7/17

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