If you are interested in pursuing a degree at a college or university, here are some things you should consider when researching colleges.
College Navigator is an interactive website that allows you to explore and compare features of different institutions, including programs and majors, admissions considerations, campus crime statistics and more.
This College Scorecard allows you to compare schools costs, the average amount its students borrow, graduation rates, post college earning potentials and a host of other important statistics for colleges across the country. To use it, specify the type of degree, program area, and state or region of the U.S. you are interested in. The Scorecard will give you a snapshot of schools that meet the criteria you specify. By clicking on each school listed, you can get more details.
You should verify that the college or education program you are interested in is certified as accredited. An accredited institution has met acceptable standards of quality. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) has a database of accredited institutions.
Career or Technical Schools
You may choose to earn a certificate, degree, or diploma from a career or technical school that will train you for a specific career, trade, or profession. The Department of Education's Career Colleges and Technical School's site can help you:
Ask the right questions.
Find and choose a program.
Locate information about paying for a career or technical education.
Military Colleges and Academies
There are practical and financial benefits to pursuing an education with the military. Learn more about education programs available.
When calculating the cost for college, use this student budget calculator. Enter tuition costs, room and board, other expenses, and how much money you have in student loans or grants to estimate where you stand financially.
If you are a parent, make sure your college bound child gets involved in the process. Federal Student Aid helps students learn to manage their money in college and avoid common scams that target students.
Paying for College
There are a variety of methods to pay for your college education:
Many state governments have created 529 plans that make it easier for families to save for their child’s education. These plans encourage saving for future college costs, and the earnings grow tax-free. Visit collegesavings.org to learn about the plans available in each state.
Many students take out personal student loans. Student loans require repayment and loan terms will vary.
Grants or Scholarships
You may qualify for merit-based or financial-need based grants or scholarships. They can come from federal or state government or private organizations. Find scholarship information and use the Scholarship Search to locate scholarship opportunities.
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.
There are many educational resources and aid available to people with disabilities:
Disability.gov maintains information and educational resources for people with disabilities.
Your state education department or your local community school board can tell you what programs are available in your state and answer questions on state laws regarding educational rights for people with disabilities.
Non-governmental organizations, such as nonprofits and charities. Visit your local public library, talk to friends and family, or search the Internet.
College bound students with intellectual disabilities may be able to take advantage of special financial aid programs. The Federal Student Aid office can provide specific information on loans, grants, and scholarships, and application procedures. You may want to visit the financial aid office at your school of choice for additional information on special programs for people with disabilities.
Find answers to frequently asked questions about how disability laws apply to public schools districts, colleges and universities. If you feel you have been discriminated against in an educational institution, file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education.
Many college campuses offer health services on site and have a security staff. You may wish to consult with your college for information on these services. Call 911 or local law enforcement to report emergencies.
Fraud, Waste or Abuse of Federal Educational Funds
The Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigates fraud, waste or 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 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. ET, and Tuesday and Thursday from 1 PM. until 3 PM. ET, except for federal holidays.
Downloading a hardcopy of the Hotline Complaint Form, and completing, mailing or faxing 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
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.
School or College
Use this guide if you have a complaint against a specific school or college.