College and Higher Education

Find out where to get answers to common questions about colleges and universities.

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 education programs.


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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.

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Learn English

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 or download the application to your phone or tablet to practice on the go. Listen to 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.

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Educational Programs for People with Disabilities

There are many educational resources and aid available to people with disabilities:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) provides information on what federal educational aid is available and which federal laws provide educational rights.
  • You can also get in touch with  your school of choice for additional information on special programs for people with disabilities.

Disability Discrimination

  • 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 Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education.

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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



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Locating School Records

Elementary through Postsecondary Schools

  • To locate your school records, contact your former school. Administrators at the school should be able to tell you how to get your records.
  • This locator can help you find a school or college. You can search for a public school, private school, or college by city, state, ZIP code, or by school name.
  • If the school you went to closed, use this state contacts page for help locating the appropriate school district or state higher education agency. They should be able to help you get your records.

Locating Financial Aid Records and Repayment of School Loans

If you have questions about repaying your loan, use these resources:

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Last Updated: January 18, 2018