Planning how to pay for college is often where families feel most vulnerable and confused. Unfortunately, misleading information seems to be everywhere you turn online. These resources have been carefully selected and we believe they are among the best available to assist you on the web. Protect your personal information and confirm you are using trusted resources throughout your college financing research.
U.S. Department of Education: Student Aid on the Web
The US Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid homepage is a great starting point to learn about college financing and the options provided via the federal government and other resources.
FinAid.org was one of the original online resources for information about the financial aid and scholarship process. It is now owned by Monster.com, and still serves as a strong point of entry for learning the basic language of the financial aid process.
Fast Web Scholarship Search Tool
FastWeb is the most robust national scholarship search and match tool for high school and college students. When an applicant creates a profile on FastWeb, the company provides daily or weekly emails with information on relevant scholarships to apply for. This resource can quickly become overwhelming, and many scholarships are actually sweepstakes contests, but it is reputable.
FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid
FAFSA is synonymous with financial aid because the FAFSA is required of any applicant looking to receive any form of need-based financial aid from US colleges and universities. Contrary to what you may hear, the FAFSA process is not terribly complicated. Most families can complete it independently or with minimal support. Many communities offer FAFSA counseling days during the winter months. The FAFSA application becomes available in October for the following academic year.
CSS PROFILE: The OTHER Financial Aid Application!
The CSS PROFILE is a secondary common financial aid application many colleges and universities require of applicants. This online application is more complex than FAFSA and requires a great deal more information about a family’s finances. Be sure to confirm if any of your colleges even require this application before starting it. Note that you will need to use a College Board account to submit the PROFILE, and there is a fee associated with submitting it to each college. The CSS PROFILE application becomes available in October for the following academic year.
Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority
MEFA is the state of Massachusetts’ official educational financing management organization. MEFA is a great resource to start the student loan process. They help oversee Massachusetts’ 529 Plan program and provide reputable resources for families in need of information about college financing options. MEFA offers Massachusetts student loans with competitive rates.
New England Resident Tuition Break Programs
The New England Board of Higher Education oversees the New England Resident Tuition Break Program. Through this program, New England residents can attend public schools outside their home state in New England at discounted rates if they select a major not offered at a public school in their home state. Over 800 programs in New England qualify.
How to Spot a Scholarship Scam: Critical!
The Federal Trade Commission monitors common consumer scams to alert the public to concerning activity. This article from the FTC outlines how to spot a scholarship scam. There are countless websites designed to trick vulnerable students and families. Beware!