How do I use this website?

In addition to providing you with some starting resources on how to better understand the current landscape of education, we have compiled a directory of colleges in the United States. Through investigating the map, you can find how many schools are in a state and see some facts about their students. How much are they paying on average for student loans? How much financial aid do they receive? What are the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen? You can browse and compare across states, and can find contact information to learn more about a school’s programs and degree opportunities.

Where does the data come from?

The college data is taken from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. You can learn more about how this data is collected and presented at their website.

What’s the fastest way for me to access federal student loans or grants?

Regardless of whether or not your family has any money saved for a college education, you may be eligible for student aid from the government. You need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which will profile you and your family’s financial situation. Depending on your ability to pay, you may receive a combination of loans, grants, and work-study opportunities to help finance your education. Different states may have different deadlines, so stay abreast of any changes or differences in your area.

What should I do to prepare myself for college?

Everyone’s experience is a little bit different. If you work, you should try to save money to help pay for school—unless you expect to receive a scholarship or a grant that will cover 100% of the costs, you’ll need to have money ready to pay for things like books and miscellaneous expenses. If you are in high school, keep an eye out for subjects that interest you. If your school offers advanced courses, try a few out. Many local colleges have programs with high schools which offer college-level classes to students who want to get a head start or see what that experience is like. You can visit colleges and speak in person with representatives who will give you a tour of what makes them special, and these typically do not cost money.

Have a plan: know where your interests are, why you want to attend college, and try to align your financial situation with an aid package that makes sense. Do research into your field of interest—going to college doesn’t mean attending a four-year university, and there are lot of options to craft the exact kind of experience that you believe will work best for you

Where can I find out about educational policy in my state?

All states have a Department of Education that is designed to provide information and resources to people who want to learn about educational opportunities there. If your state’s agency does not have a robust online resource, you can visit its offices to learn about potential state-based scholarships and other collegiate funding options and grant initiatives.

I am a veteran. How do I get financial help with college?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers help with funding school for military veterans. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill provides money for in-state four your college programs, often with rewards covering all the cost of education. There are special situations in which the provisions provided by this bill can be applied to your entire family, so be sure to use the VA’s comparison tool to determine your eligibility.

Should I look for a two-year or a four-year degree program?

Depends on what you want out of your education. You should do active research into the careers that interest you. What do they require? If a two-year degree is sufficient for you to apply for job opportunities, then don’t worry about a four-year degree. An associate’s degree is especially effective for people who have the opportunity to work while they get their education. For example, there might be a local company where you live that works with a specific college to provide internships. If you are in an associate’s program and work with a company in your field of study during that study, you effectively graduate with a hybrid combination of work experience and education that can make you very employable.

Four-year degrees are more common. If you are interested in an engineering field, or a health-related field, or if you want to go on to graduate school, a bachelor’s degree is generally required. Because the degree takes longer, employers know that there is more time to develop and refine technical skills. In general, the type of degree you get should be guided by what careers in your field of interest require.

What’s a core curriculum? Can I complete it online?

A core curriculum is the basic center of classes that a student at a college or a university has to take. These curricula vary from school to school, but usually include things like a course in college mathematics, some type of science, college-level writing and composition, and a few general studies courses in things like history and language. These courses tend to form the foundation on which a specific major’s technical courses are layered.

Because a lot of the core curriculum is theoretical (and can be applied without special equipment), it lends itself well to online study. Although the cost per credit hour for these courses are similar whether or not they are taken online, being able to earn credits without being on campus brings huge savings in commuting and room and board costs. If there is any part of a degree that you want to defray the costs of, this will likely be the easiest and best place to start. Some degrees can be obtained entirely online, but any labs or hands-on work will have to be done in a classroom.