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. Figuring out your expenses and creating and following a budget may help you control your college costs. If you are interested in more than one school, learning how their costs compare may help you narrow your list of choices.
Different Ways to Pay for College
There are many ways to help pay for your college education:
Visit collegesavings.org to learn about the plans available in each state.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 at 1-800-421-3481.
Education Benefits for Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families
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 make it hard to get your degree. But Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) can help. These civilian colleges and universities:
- Make transferring credits easy
- Reduce the number of credits you must earn at their school to get a degree
- Give classes on or near military installations in the U.S., overseas, and on military ships
- Offer distance learning programs
- Offer degrees that match your military job
- Are open to service members and their families
Military Spouse Tuition Assistance
If you’re a military spouse, you can find help paying for college or vocational training too. There are many scholarships, grants, and interest-free loans. Find sources of military spouse tuition assistance.
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December 8, 2020