These are some of my favorite places to look for information about college admissions and financial aid.

Searching for colleges

  • College Match: A good workbook (by Steven Antonoff) designed to help students identify the criteria that matter most to them when looking for colleges.
  • Use Naviance if your high school is a subscriber.
  • Inside College: A site with many interesting college lists, based on the book The College Finder by Steven Antonoff.
  • College Board's College Search.
  • Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE): WUE is a program that allows students to pay one and a half times the amount of in-state tuition at participating colleges and universities in the western states. At some colleges, WUE tuition rates are available to all admitted students from the western states who requested the WUE rate at the time of their application; at others, the program is restricted by major; at some colleges, the program is used as a merit scholarship for the strongest applicants.
  • Don't forget college guidebooks! They offer good narrative summaries and interesting perspectives. Some of my favorites are Fiske Guide to Colleges, The Best 377 Colleges, Cool Colleges, and Creative Colleges.
  • Check the Colleges that Change Lives list.

Useful statistics on colleges

  • CollegeData: You can find acceptance, retention, and graduation rates; mid-range GPA's and test scores of admitted students; average financial aid and merit aid packages; and more.
  • College Navigator: This has some of the same information you'll find at College Data, presented in a graphical format. You can also look here to find out how many men and women are enrolled at a college and the different acceptance rates for men and women.

Learn about financial aid

  • FinAid: Excellent, comprehensive coverage of all things related to financial aid. If you remember only one site, this should be the one.

Estimators of the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and aid

  • College Board EFC Calculator: Easy to use; easy to change your data to try out different financial scenarios; you can estimate your EFC according to both the federal and institutional methodologies.
  • Fafsa4caster: For the federal methodology EFC only; very similar to the real FAFSA; published by the Dept. of Education. Saves your data to give you a head start on the FAFSA when it becomes available on January 1.
  • UC estimators: For each UC campus, there is an aid estimator that will give you a rough idea of what your financial aid package might look like.
  • Since October 2011, colleges have been required to offer net price calculators on their own financial aid sites, so you can get an early estimate of your eligibility for financial aid. Some net price calculators also provide families with an early estimate of merit aid, based on information you provide. The calculators ask fewer questions than you will find on the real financial aid applications, so it's important to understand that the results you get may not be accurate for your situation, especially if you have complicating factors such as self-employment or divorce.

Federal and state aid

  • Cal Grant: California's state grant programs, which are available to low- and middle-income California students who attend public or private colleges in California. You can check the Cal Grant income and asset ceilings (pdf) to find out if you will be eligible.
  • Federal Student Aid: See "Federal student aid programs" in the left margin of that page.
  • Educational Opportunity Program (EOP): Academic and financial support from the state government for students from historically socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. There is a CSU EOP program and a UC EOP program. For information on EOP at UC campuses, search individual campus web sites.

Education loans

  • FinAid on Loans: Overview of different loan programs for students and parents
  • FinAid's Loan Calculator: Put in a loan amount and find out how much your monthly payment would be after graduation
  • Project on Student Debt: A list of colleges that have pledged to limit the amount of loans they include in students' financial aid packages.