Posted on April 30, 2013 by Annie Do
It’s that time of year- are you ready for college? This season, tens of thousands of high school seniors have been or will be making crucial, life-changing decisions about where to attend college. The Department of Education has several resources to help with this process that I wish I had three years ago when I was in your shoes. The Department is dedicated to empowering students and families to make responsible and informed decisions about where to attend school. This administration is focused on aiding students and families in this complicated process- choosing the right school that will equip you for a career will strengthen your future and our economy.
The College Scorecard is a great resource within the College Affordability and Transparency Center to give students and parents information to assess the college’s affordability and value. The Scorecard has information about the university’s different degree and major programs, the occupations that this school will prepare you for, the location (zip code, region, state) the school is in, the size of the school, the awards offered, the campus setting, and distance education. The College Scorecard allows you to pick out the key aspects that are the most important to you, and use those to compare different schools and pinpoint the best fit and match for you.
The Financial Aid Shopping Sheet is a standardized award letter that students can use to compare different financial aid packages. More than 500 colleges have agreed to adopt the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. It was created to simplify the information given to help students make better financial decisions. The Shopping Sheet gives detailed information about aid and loans that every student should consider including how much one year of school will cost, the options the school has available, information about student results (including information about graduation, loan default, and debt level rates), to name a few. For more information about the different components of the Shopping Sheet, visit here, or for FAQs about the shopping sheet, visit here.
Once you have made your decision, be sure to check the Federal Student Aid website which has recently been redesigned to include more resources on applying for financial aid, including a checklist for high school students and prospective college students. The Office of Federal Student Aid has worked to simplify the financial aid process, with the simplification of the FAFSA and the new loan counseling tools to help students repay their loans.
Make sure to review all of these resources while making this crucial decision, as this will determine where you will spend the next several years of your life. Choosing the right school is a nerve racking decision that you should be fully prepared for- but it can also be exciting! You are about to embark on a challenging journey where you will learn, grow, cook for yourself (hopefully), meet your best friends, and make countless memories. Best of luck to the incoming Class of 2017!
Annie Do is an Undergraduate Student at the University of California, Irvine and served as a Spring 2013 Intern with the Office of the Under Secretary.