The high cost of college may have you wondering if earning your degree is impossible. But with some savvy planning and financial aid know-how, you can make your higher education dreams a reality. It can be overwhelming knowing where to start—we have a ton of advice on the topic in our Financial Aid section, let alone all the other content you’ll find on the internet. That’s why we’ve collected our very best advice for you right here in one place!
Below, you’ll find articles from admission experts, financial planners, and real students on all the ways you and your family can pay for college—we’re talking scholarships and grants, the FAFSA and CSS/PROFILE, savings and loans, and everything in between. Scroll to the bottom for specific information just for parents as well as transfer, graduate, and international students. You can make college affordable—start learning and planning now!
Financial aid 101
- All the Important Financial Aid Terms You Need to Know: When it comes to financial aid, it can feel like you're reading a whole other language. Use this helpful guide to learn all the key financial aid terms!
- Financial Aid Terms You Need to Know After Graduation: Use this guide to learn all the key financial aid terms you need to know when you're ready to pay back your loans.
- Should I Apply for Financial Aid if I May Not Be Eligible?: Some students think they aren't eligible for financial aid because of their parents' high income, but many factors go into the FAFSA. Here's some expert advice.
- Important Financial Aid Opportunities and Sources for You: When planning for college, it's important for students to know about every financial aid option available. Student writer Pranathi breaks it down for you here.
Understanding college costs
- The Real Cost of College and How to Pay It: College costs are often not what they seem up front. Here's how families can understand how much it will actually cost, plus tips for the financial aid process.
- How to Figure Out Your College Costs: From admission to fees and beyond, there's a lot that goes into the cost of college. Here's how to research total costs when you're searching for schools.
- 6 Questions to Learn How Much College Will Really Cost: What can you do to make sure colleges are being transparent about costs? These questions can help you uncover a school's true price and avoid being blindsided.
- What Do Fees Cover in a College's Tuition and Fees?: In addition to paying for classes (aka tuition), you'll also need to cover any fees associated with a university. But what exactly do these "fees" mean? Find out here.
- 11 Unexpected College Costs You Should Know: College is already expensive, but just wait until you see some of these unexpected costs. Before you go finalizing your financial plans, factor these in first.
The application process
- How Do I Start the Financial Aid Application Process?: Going to college is expensive, no matter where you go. And the financial aid process can be overwhelming. Here's some expert advice to get you started.
- How to Get Financial Aid for College: The Ultimate Guide: Getting financial aid to pay for school can make or break your college plans. Here's a comprehensive guide to learn the types of financial aid you can access.
- How to Get the Most Financial Aid Possible: Financial aid helps ease the burden of college costs for many students. Make sure you're getting the most out of your aid opportunities with this advice.
- How to Fill Out the FAFSA, Step–by–Step: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid can lead you to a wealth of financial aid, and filling out the forms isn't nearly as hard as you may think.
- What You Need to Know About the CSS/PROFILE: You may know all about the FAFSA, but are you familiar with the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE? Learn about this form and why you should fill it out.
- Important Things to Know About Your EFC: Financial aid can be confusing, especially when you'll still have out-of-pocket costs in the end. Here are 15 things to know about Expected Family Contribution.
Scholarships and grants
- What's the Difference Between Scholarships and Grants?: Unlike loans, scholarships and grants are types of aid that you don't have to pay back. Learn more about these options for paying for college here.
- Scholarships 101: Getting Free Money for College: You know you need scholarships for college, but you may not know where to start. This introduction to the scholarship search will set you up for success!
- When Can I Start Applying for Scholarships?: Knowing the right time to apply for scholarships is important to future college success. (Hint: There's never a wrong time, and even younger students can win them!)
- Ultimate Scholarship Guide: How Scholarships Work, Searching for Scholarships, and How to Apply and Win: Check out our three-part series all about scholarships! You’ll learn what scholarships are and how they work; how, when, and where to search for awards; and how to apply, plus tricks to help you win even more.
- All About Institutional Aid and Scholarships: Institutional aid is money that comes from your college or university, not another source. Learn about different types of institutional aid and how to get it.
- The Ultimate List of Easy Scholarships: No long essays. No recommendation letters. Just lots of scholarships that are easy to apply to and practically anyone can win. (This list gets updated every year!)
- What You Need to Know About Taking on Student Loans: Student loans are a huge undertaking for most students. Make sure you're prepared by learning the important basics of taking on student loans for college.
- Types of Student Loans Explained: Federal vs. Private: Need to borrow money for college? Then it's time to learn about federal and private loans. See what loans are available and the differences between them here.
- 3 Factors to Consider in Choosing a Student Loan Amount: Deciding the amount to request on a college loan application can be hard. Here are three important things for parents and students to consider before applying.
- Don't Fret the Debt: 5 Ways to Conquer Student Loans: Finances are only good if you put in the effort. If the future of your wallet feels burdened by student loan debt, these five tips can help you stress less.
- 8 Ways to Pay Off Student Loans Faster and Save Money: The idea of being stuck in student loan debt forever is stress inducing. Utilize this advice to pay down your loans faster and ease your financial burden.
- The Best Advice and Resources for Filling Out the FAFSA: Looking for FAFSA help? We collected our best CollegeXpress advice and links to some of our favorite resources. Find everything you should know right here!
- 5 FAFSA Tips to Get the Most Financial Aid: Filling out the FAFSA is a great way to get financial aid for college. Here are five ways to maximize the aid you can get when you fill out the application.
- 7 Things You Need to Do Before Filing the FAFSA: Get informed before filling out the FAFSA by checking out this seven-step guide to help families work through it as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Financial aid packages
- Understanding (and Maximizing) Your College Financial Aid Package: Here's how to decipher exactly what's in your financial aid package and how to maximize it to the fullest.
- How to Compare Your College Financial Aid Awards: Colleges vary wildly in what they offer for financial aid packages. Learn how to compare the details to ensure you're getting the best deal.
- 3 Important Questions to Ask About Aid Award Letters: Financial aid award letters are a relief to receive and confusing to understand. Here are three important questions you should ask before accepting your aid.
- Get More Money by Appealing Your Financial Aid Award: The financial aid package you're initially offered doesn't have to be set in stone. Here's what to do to appeal yours and receive more money for college.
Smart strategies to pay and save
- 6 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College: Those alarmingly high tuition bills don't necessarily mean your college costs need to be that high. Read on for ways to help pare down what you pay.
- How to Save Money for College as a High School Student: College is expensive, period. So how can you start saving up in high school to pay for college and everything that goes with it? Read on to find out.
- 5 Ways a Public University Can Help You Save Money: Looking for ways to cut your college costs? A public university education often comes with the same name-brand recognition of a private school, but without the price tag.
- 6 Ways for Students to Independently Pay for College: Students don't have to rely on their parents to be able to pay for college. Here are six avenues to consider that can help you pay for your higher education.
Advice just for parents
- Parents, It’s Time to Communicate About College Costs: Some parents put off the money talk with their students far longer than they should. Here’s why you should talk about college costs early in the search process.
- 4 Important Numbers to Know Before Applying to College: One of your biggest roles in the college search as a parent is figuring out numbers. Here are the most important figures to know before your student applies.
- 4 Tips for Families to Maximize College Affordability: For families looking for ways to cut college costs, it’s important to think outside the box. Here, an expert on college affordability shares some of his strategies.
- How to Pay for College When Your 529 Plan Takes a Hit: Before panicking about your assets as the stock market fluctuates, read this advice to assess your other options for covering your student’s college costs.
- Top 5 Mistakes Families Make When Saving for College: We all know college is expensive, but it’s a lot less so when families are prepared ahead of time. Avoid these mistakes for better college financial planning.
- How to Help Your Teen Save Money for College: Saving money and budgeting are hard skills to learn that take time and organization. Help your student get a jump start on money management skills with these tips.
Advice just for transfer students
- 8 Keys to Unlocking Financial Aid as a Transfer Student: Whatever your reason for transferring, there are steps you can take to ensure your transition is smooth—and that you get the most financial aid possible.
- Important Questions About Transfer Aid, Answered: Transfer financial aid may not be that different from the first time you filed the FAFSA, but you may have questions about the process. Here are the answers.
- Important Things to Understand About Transfer Aid: If you're transferring and worried about costs, don't be. Transferring can be more affordable than you think! Here's what to know about transfer financial aid.
- How to Save Money by Transferring Colleges: Starting at a more affordable college then transferring is a growing trend with students. See how this strategy could save you money at the end of four years.
Advice just for graduate students
- Financial Aid for Grad School: What's Different This Time?: Financial aid isn't just for undergrads, but it's a little different for grad students. Here's what you should know about applying for aid in graduate school.
- Paying Your Own Way: Financial Aid for Graduate School: Graduate programs can be expensive, but there are numerous ways in which you can reduce or even eliminate the cost of attendance. Learn all about them here.
- How to Pay for Grad School: Plan Ahead to Get Ahead: It takes careful planning to make fiscally responsible grad school plans. Check out this advice whether you're in high school, college, or the working world.
- Expert Grad School Financial Aid Tips You Need to Know: Worried about paying for grad school? It may seem a hefty price, but there are ways to make it work. Here are some tips for making smart financial decisions.
- Tips You Should Know for Dealing With Grad School Debt: Grad school debt is all but inevitable. These expert tips will help you deal with the student loans left in the wake of that hard-earned graduate degree.
- Scholarship Strategies That Help Cut Grad School Costs: It's no secret that grad school is expensive, but scholarship strategies to help reduce the cost shouldn't be. Start finding opportunities with this advice!
Advice just for international students
- The International Student's Helpful Guide to Financial Aid: US financial aid can be confusing for any student but especially international students. Here's a guide to help you figure it out before you choose a school.
- Navigating the US Financial Aid Process as an International Student: Universities in the United States offer several types of aid, and it’s important to understand your options to make an informed decision.
- Financial Tips for Disadvantaged International Students: University can be expensive for international students in the US. Here's how economically disadvantaged students can pay for their education.
- Great Scholarship Opportunities for International Students: Looking for money to pay for university? Here's a list of scholarships and fellowships for undergrad and graduate international students studying in the US.