Now that it’s time for school again, it’s also time to figure out how much college will cost. Too bad there isn’t a high school course on how to calculate and pay for higher education. Two of my friends are sending their kids off this year and looking at both their empty nests and their empty checking accounts, trying to figure out where to go from here. Good thing that there are several websites designed to help you navigate the financial and academic roads.

Collegeboard has tools, calculators, and resources for students, parents, and educators. They even have links to registering for the SATs on their home page. If you want to research colleges, they have information on more than 3800 and you can search by major, by location, or cost. I like how the site has everything from planning to go to college, to the logistics of applying, to the options for financial aid, all in one place.

For those who want to put away money for college (meaning you child is not enrolled this year), check out collegesavings, which has information on the 529 plans for every state.

For those who want some help with financial options Finaid is the place to go; they have everything from how to apply for scholarships, grants, how to get loans, how much to save, and even military aid options. There is a handy calculator to help you figure out actual costs with interest right on the homepage.

With the government handing out money to so many, why not get in line for a student loan? Studentloans has all the information on federal student aid and it has the application (free) on the website. These loans are usually based on income with lower interest than other loans, so apply for a federal loan first to avoid paying more later.

An education is always a wise investment; investing in yourself or your children can yield some amazing returns.

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