Find a College That Meets Your Needs
Researching the schools you might attend after high school takes time. High school guidance counselors are a good resource for starting your search. Post high school education can include a local community college, state or private university, military college, art or culinary school, or trade or technical training school.
College or University
Some schools can be two year and are often called community colleges. Four year higher educational institutions can be public (state) or private universities.
Federal Student Aid - Use this chart listing items to consider when researching colleges, including your area of study, size of school, and tuition.
College Navigator -This tool helps you explore and compare features of different schools, including academic study programs, admissions guidelines, and campus crime statistics.
College Scorecard - Use this tool to determine if a school is the right fit for you based on cost, student body, the value of your degree, and more.
Some schools may sound good but might not be accredited by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). Check the Department of Education's database of accredited institutions.
Trade or Technical Schools
You may choose to earn a certificate, degree, or diploma from a career trade or technical school that will train you for a specific career, trade, or profession.
Military Colleges and Academies
There are practical and financial benefits to pursuing an education through a military academy or college. Learn more about military schools.
Estimating the Cost and Paying for College
Learn About the Costs of College
College costs include a variety of fees and items, even some you might not expect. Estimating your expenses and creating and following a budget may help you control your college costs. If you are interested in a number of schools, learning which are most and least expensive may help you narrow your list of choices.
Different Ways to Pay for College
There are a variety of methods to help pay for your college education:
In addition to costs, learn about other important factors to consider such as location, accreditation, and more as you research colleges and career schools.
If you want to learn English or need to join an English as a Second Language (ESL) program for school or work, these resources can help you find local and online courses:
- Schools or Nonprofit Organizations: If you live in the U.S., every state, county, and city has its own education programs and resources for learning English. If you have children, talk to their school staff, or contact a community college, university, or nonprofit organization to find local programs.
- Internet: Learn English from home with the website USALearns.org or download the application to your phone or tablet to practice on the go. Listen to ShareAmerica.gov for audio conversations to learn English.
- Libraries: In some communities, libraries offer English classes and materials to study. Find a library near you.
If you are concerned that you might have been scammed or overcharged by an ESL program, contact the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint.
Education Programs for People with Disabilities
Learn how to find local, state, and federal education programs and financial aid opportunities for people with disabilities.
Your state department of education or your local school board are your best resources for telling you about nearby programs and answering questions about state educational rights laws for people with disabilities.
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a plan developed by a child’s educators and parents to meet that child’s specific educational needs. It’s a foundational part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which guarantees a free, appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities.
College-bound students with intellectual disabilities may be eligible for financial aid programs including Pell Grants and Federal Work-Study programs. The Office for Federal Student Aid has specific information on loans, grants, and scholarships, and how to apply.
Contact the school you want to attend for additional information on special programs for people with disabilities.
Education Rights of People with Disabilities
Several federal laws protect the education rights of people with disabilities.
How Section 504 and Title II Protect Education Rights
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
IDEA applies to students in grades K-12.
Students with Disabilities at College or Technical School
Students with disabilities preparing to attend college or vocational school have rights and responsibilities.
Disability Discrimination in Education
If you feel a school has discriminated against you or your child, you can:
Filing Education-Related Complaints
Fraud, Waste or Abuse of Federal Educational Funds
The Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigates fraud, waste, and abuse of federal educational funds, including federal student aid.
You may contact the OIG by:
- Calling 1-800-MIS-USED (1-800-647-8733). Hours of Operation: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 9 AM to 11 AM ET, and Tuesday and Thursday 1 PM to 3 PM. ET, except federal holidays.
- Downloading the Hotline Complaint form. After completing it, mail or fax it to:
Inspector General's Hotline
Office of Inspector General
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-1500
Fax: (202) 245-7047
Financial Aid Complaints
If you have done everything you can to resolve a student loan issue, use the contact form from the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group to help you resolve student loan complaints. They will work with you and the lender after you have tried other avenues to resolve your issue.
Special Education or Civil Rights Complaints
The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights enforces several federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education. Contact their office directly at 1-800-421-3481 or locate one of their enforcement offices.
Education Benefits for Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families
Military members have options for getting help to further their civilian education. The most comprehensive program is the GI Bill, which is available to many military members and veterans.
GI Bill and Other Veterans Education Programs
If you were or are in the military, you may be eligible for veterans education benefits. If you’re a spouse or dependent, you may be eligible too.
Forever GI Bill
The Forever GI Bill of 2017 makes big changes to many veterans education benefits. Most changes expand or improve upon existing benefits. Highlights include:
Restoring education benefits to people who lost them because their school closed
Eliminating the 15-year time limit for those who left active duty on or after January 1, 2013
Many other changes are in effect or coming. See a detailed list of Forever GI Bill changes.
Military Tuition Assistance
If you're in the military now, your unit may pay for your tuition if you attend college in your off-duty time.
Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC)
Frequent military transfers can be a roadblock to getting your degree. But Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) can help. These civilian colleges and universities:
For more information, talk to your unit's education officer.
Military Spouse Tuition Assistance
If you’re a military spouse, you can find help paying for college or vocational training too. There are a variety of scholarships, grants, and interest-free loans. Find sources of military spouse tuition assistance.
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Last Updated: June 19, 2019