We've simplified the planning process by offering you the most-helpful tips for college preparation.
Save for college. Start saving for college as early as possible. Parents can use the Monthly Savings Calculator to estimate the amount they'll need to save each month to support a child's future college education. Review College Savings Plans for a list of college saving options.
Estimate college savings. A nagging question for many parents is "How much will college cost?" Use the College Cost Calculator to estimate the future cost of a college education.
Meet key deadlines. Meeting important deadlines is vital to successful college planning. Here are some critical college-preparation timelines:
Complete the FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is one of the most-important pieces of paperwork that you must complete to qualify for college financial aid. Parents can check out all of the details in the FAFSA section, to find out what's involved with this application.
Know your EFC. Learn more about how much your family will be expected to contribute toward the cost of a student's education. The Expected Family Contribution is an important factor in calculating eligibility for some forms of financial aid. Use the EFC Calculator.
Apply for scholarships and grants. The best kind of financial aid is the kind you don't have to repay: grants and scholarships. Explore scholarships for which your child might qualify using the Scholarship Search.
Understand your loan options. If loans are part of your child's financial-aid award package, you'll need to understand all of the options available.
Consider PLUS loans. If you intend to help your child with financing for college, parent loans may be in your plan. Visit our guide to Parent PLUS loans.
Review your credit history. Parents considering PLUS loans may need to review their credit history, or even repair their credit history. PLUS loans require a credit check, so parents must be prepared.
Learn about tax deductions. Don't forget about the great savings you may be able to gain by deducting education-loan interest on your tax returns. Learn about helpful Tax Deductions.