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How to choose the school that’s financially right for you

May 1st was National College Decision Day. This can be an exciting day for many students because it’s the day that most students must accept admission into the college or university of their choice.

If you will be accepting an admissions offer this spring, you may already have a good idea, at this point, of the school you want to attend, its cost, whether you’ll need financial aid, and how you plan to cover any other financial gaps. But if you’re still struggling with any of these decisions or need to prepare for college in the next few years, there are several resources available to help guide you through making the best financial choices for you and your family.

Choosing the right school

The Department of Education has created a tool called the College Scorecard to help you compare colleges based on a number of important factors, including programs and degrees, location, size of the student body, private vs. public, as well as other specialized focuses.

Comparing costs 

Once you’ve narrowed down where you want to go, you’ll need to determine which school will be the best financial fit. Our Paying for College Comparison tool helps you compare the costs of college and financial aid offers for up to three schools. It’ll help you see the big picture of annual costs as well as the projected monthly payment for repaying your student loans after graduation. Tip: If you need help using the tool, click the “About this tool” link in the top-right corner for more details and instructions.

Financing your education

There are many different ways to pay for college, and in some cases, your financial aid may not cover all of your expenses so it is important to know how much you will need to spend out of pocket.  

Most schools have a financial aid office, and from the moment you receive your acceptance and financial aid award letters, they’re available to help you consider the various financial plans that may be available to you. Don’t hesitate to communicate with them throughout this process.

Whether or not you’ll be making a big decision on May 1st, weighing the financial costs of education now can help you effectively plan for repaying student loans – and for a bright future after graduation. 

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