A comprehensive list of references that deal with college, financial aid and admissions would span dozens of pages. Most families accessing our website are looking for a place to start their journey or a few good tools they can trust, not a library. These references are an essential starting point on your college search journey. To streamline your search, the Reference Library is divided into three major sections and several subsections.
So you don’t know what to do for the rest of your life? Join the crowd. Nationwide, somewhere between 25 and 50% of freshman begin college with an “Undecided” major. Here are a few tools to help you along the way. As with all assessments, you can take the tests on your own, but the Guru strongly advises that you work with us to interpret the results and use them to refine your college search.
Online – Via Naviance.
Do What You Are is an integral part of the Naviance system. If your school district doesn’t have Naviance, you can take the assessment online (there is a charge) or buy the book by the same name.
YouScience is one of the leading and most scientifically rigorous aptitude and career assessments available. There is a cost for the test, but for students that don’t even know where to begin or what they’re good at, this is perhaps the broadest assessment available outside of a career counseling business.
What Color is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers ; Bolles, RA; 2019; Paperback
For more than 30 years, this book has been a standard career guide for young adults.
No one guide includes information on all 4,500 colleges and universities vying for your consideration, but even the information on the 400 or so schools in most guides can be overwhelming! The Guru strongly recommend using these guides as a starting point to find a few of the more well-known schools they discuss and then go to each school’s website to find more detailed information on the courses they offer in your areas of interest, admissions deadlines and requirements, and other more general information like student life, athletics and dining options. After you’ve identified a few schools, the Guru will work with you to fill out a complete list of schools that fit your specific interests and goals.
Fiske Guide to Colleges 2019; Fiske, EB; Paperback
Details on just under 400 schools. “Overlap schools” – schools in the same niche market – allow you to discover other schools of interest.
Draws extensively from students’ experiences. Summaries include the three most popular majors for each school and percent accepted Early Action or Early Decision.
Provides a great level of detail on more than 800 schools. More than 500 lists that help you find groups of schools by major, location, interests, religion, and just about anything else.
College Factual (website)
College Factual is all about sorting and ranking. This is my favorite tool to find schools that have well-regarded programs in just about any subject. You can sort information by major, by sport or by school.
College Niche (website)
College Niche gives student rankings on 19 categories from Academics, to Drug Safety and Weather. Individual comments give detailed discussion for each category. Click on each category and check out the detailed objective information after the comments. For instance, if you want to know how many students graduated last year in Mechanical Engineering, go to "Major" and scroll to the bottom.
College Data 411 (website)
If your create a free account on this website, you can search for schools that match detailed criteria, save your results, explore your chances of getting admitted... There's a lot of information. I like to use the 411 search engine to get explore options. This is my go-to web tool for students interested in pursuing their interests in multiple subjects.
These reference tools are unique to CMG and will help you quickly locate detailed financial data on more than 1700 colleges.
College Admissions Statistics 2013-14
Colleges accept more students than will actually enroll. Acceptance rates and SAT or ACT scores are measures of selectivity. Admissions yields and retention rates are measures of desirability. The table also includes student-faculty ratios.
Financial Aid Grants and Loans 2013-14
Which schools give the most grants? The least in loans? What’s the average debt at graduation? All figures are now on a per-capita basis. This means they are averages based on all full-time, first time undergraduate students and not just averages for students with financial aid.
Cost of Attendance and Net Price By Income 2013-14
How much will it really cost? The table lists Cost of Attendance and Net Price averages for 5 income levels.
Institutional Endowments & Financial Aid Policies 2013
Which schools have money? How do endowment dollars translate to a school’s ability to meet their students’ financial need?
Undergraduate Retention and Graduation Rates 2013-4
Do students tend to stay at a given college or do they move to another school? Do they graduate on time? What’s the student to faculty ration? This table lists statistics for both public and private institutions along with the number of undergrads and the total cost of admission.
The number of students admitted to a school as a percentage of total enrollment can indicate how easy it is to transfer to that school. More importantly, if a significant number of each class is made up of transfer students, there will be less social problems for transfer students entering the school.
Right after finding a college, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to afford going there. Here’s a good tutorial on financial aid forms and a few different EFC (Expected Family Contribution) calculators.
Reviews FAFSA and CSS Profile forms line by line. Helpful financial planning section. FAFSA and the Profile were updated in 2016, so this edition is an essential upgrade!
College Board’s Big Future EFC calculator
The most current FAFSA EFC calculator (for the 2015-16 year) can generate estimates for schools using FAFSA schools OR the CSS Profile.
College Confidential’s EFC calculator
Generates your EFC and a list of all of the FAFSA allowances that go into creating your EFC. Currently based on 2013 data.
Federal Student Aid’s Loan repayment estimator
Colleges may include student loans in you Financial Aid package, but loans are hardly aid – just deferred costs. Use this estimator to explore the full impact of the loans you are considering.
The net price is the actual cost you’ll pay to attend your school. Net Price is a University’s published “sticker price” for tuition, fees, room and board less grants and scholarships. Loans may be packaged by colleges as “Aid,” but they are a very real part of your net price since you have to pay them back after college.
Federal Student Aid’s FAFSA4caster
This tool gives you a detailed estimate of the federal grants and loans you’re likely to have in your aid package. This calculator is not as accurate as going to each school’s Net Price Calculator since it only estimates federal grants and loans.
College Board’s Net Price Participating Schools
Index of the more than 300 private schools that use the College Board’s CSS Profile and Net Price Calculator. Once you save your online Profile information, College Board will fill out most of the data elements for each school’s calculator for you.
Financial aid forms and registration for the SAT, ACT and AP tests are just a click away. The testing sites also include lists of when the tests are given.
Create a Federal Student ID (FSA) [Click Here]
Download a FAFSA worksheet [Click Here]
File your FAFSA online [Click Here]
File your CSS Profile online [Click Here]
The Common App website [Click Here]
The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success website [Click Here]
SAT dates and registration [Click Here]
ACT dates and registration [Click Here]
AP dates and registration [Click Here]
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