40+ College Resources for Parents and Students

Photo: iStockphoto

Updated November 2012

Preparing to send your child off to college is an exciting time, but can also be filled with stress and anxiety as you try to navigate through the admissions and financial aid process, not to mention all the other things that come once accepted. Here are 42 resources to the rescue!

How To Pay For College

Higher education is expensive, but here are resources to help you save money for college and learn about federal student loans, private loans, grants, scholarships, and when it's time to pay for school.

100 Money Saving Financial Calculators for College Students and Parents – With categories like Financial Aid and Tuition, Savings, Basic Budget, Travel and Study Abroad, Tax Deductions and even Retirement (plus several more), this list has all your bases covered.

Bankrate – Go to Bankrate's page on College Finance for news and tips about student loans and 529 plans. Get the current stats on student loan rates, updated daily and weekly.

College.gov - This site is an ongoing collaborative project between the U.S. Department of Education and students to help high school students and their parents plan their educational future, with section dedicated to the financial aspect of it. College.gov works great as a refresher course for current college students, too.

The College Board – Is it any surprise that an organization which produces tests taken by students for the sole purpose of getting into the college of their choice also provides helpful articles on how to pay for college? The College Board does. Other tools for students (and parents!) include a Financial Aid EasyPlanner, financial calculators, a scholarship search engine, and a worksheet that makes it super easy to compare aid awards.

College Scholarships – Find scholarships that interest you in just a few clicks. College Scholarships links you directly to organizations that offer scholarships for students with your interests, background, and need. Other resources include (but not limited to):  essay-writing tips, information request templates, college savings tips, and information on tuition reimbursement programs. You'll also want to check out their financial aid blog and 118 Ways to Save Money in College.

EducationGrant – A compilation of all the how-to-pay-for-college resources a college student needs. EducationGrant has extensive information on various kinds of aid and gives you tips on how to apply for them, too.

FastWeb – FastWeb is the Internet's leading scholarship search service, but that's not all. They also have tools, articles, and additional resources to help students choose a college, figure out how to pay for college, and find jobs and internships to supplement student aid. The best part: FastWeb is totally and completely free to use.

FinAid – A one-stop source for everything you need to know about scholarships. loans, savings plans, military aid, and other types of aid specific to your needs. You'll also find a helpful guide that walks you through the financial aid application process.

GreenNote – A unique peer-to-peer lending service that helps students use their social network of friends and family to secure student loans. Lenders can earn a return on their money while helping a student get an education. It's a win-win.

People Capital – A new, free calculator that determines a student's Human Capital Score (HCS), a projection of future income potential and the ability to pay back a student loan. The score measures variables such as GPA, standardized test scores, college and major. Since students usually have a short or no credit history, the HCS provides an alternative to traditional FICO scores. Also launching later this year is their peer-to-peer lending platform that will match students with college funding sources.

SayStudent – The site compares the different kinds of aid programs available for students (undergrad and grad), parents, and porfessionals in a neat chart for easy comparison. SayStudent also has a step-by-step budget plan and downloadable worksheets to help you manage your money before school starts and during the academic year.

Student Aid on the Web – The U.S. Department of Education's advanced course on funding post-high school education. Find information on federal student aid programs, how to apply for financial aid, and how to repay your loans.

Student Finance Domain – Learn how to pay for college and manage your money. Among many other topics, Student Finance Domain goes in depth on student banking, spending and protecting, financial aid and student loans, and they even explore options for international students.

Study.com – Check out Study.com's directory of articles on Student Finances for a wide range of handy tips and guidelines aimed at helping poor college students pay for college.

TuitionU – TuitionU is an education finance network that helps students and families find ways to pay for college, ranging from the traditional to alternative, and even peer and individual sources. The site also offers financial resources for those planning for college as well as recent graduates.

Upromise – Spend money and save for college at the same time. Upromise members just need to shop at one Upromise's thousands of partners. A portion of your purchase would accumulate in your Upromise account until you decide to invest in a 529 plan, pay down eligible student loans, or pay for other college expenses. Another thing: withdrawals from your Upromise account are tax-free!

Required Reading: Textbook Savings

Substantial chunks of a college student's expenses go into buying textbooks that will either end up collecting dust in a neglected corner once the class is over or be resold for a fraction of what you paid. So, what to do?

Book Burro – When you're browsing a book page on, say, Amazon, this nifty Firefox/Flock extension appears in the corner of your browser, ready to connect you with sellers – and libraries! – to check the price and availability of the book. Awesome? Indeed.

BookFinder – If you study best by highlighting, underlining, or writing notes (or doodling stick-figure flip books) in the margins, textbook rentals may not be for you – but never fear! BookFinder.com searches the inventories of150,000 booksellers and produce a price comparison list tailored to your specifications. So before you buy that book that seems affordable enough, remember to run it through BookFinder.com first to make sure you're getting the best deal.

BookRenter – Another textbook rental site with five rental periods to let you rent for any school term period. To maintain the condition of the books as like-new or better, no writing or highlighting is allowed, but that's a pretty good trade-off for the money you'll save by using BookRenter.

CampusBooks – Compare prices on millions of new and used college textbooks. You can also list your textbooks for sale here.

Chegg – In the words of the Cheggifesto: "Don't buy it."  With Chegg, you can rent the textbooks you need for a fraction of the listing price and return them at the end of the semester (or quarter) with prepaid shipping labels provided by Chegg. Just make sure you don't write in the books or highlight excessively -- it is a rental service, after all, but if you want to buy the book you rented, you have the option to do so. And another incentive to use Chegg: they plant a tree for every book you rent!

CollegeBooksDirect – Only sells what they have in stock, and they do same-day shipping if you order before 2 PM CST. College students on a budget are the base of their clientele, so you know that their books will be cheap and shipping will be fast.

Direct Textbook – Their multi-format price comparison searches online bookstores (new, used, ebook, rental) and combines them into one table.

Textbooks – Large selection of new, used and digital textbooks. Get their exclusive guaranteed cash back when you sell back the book at the end of the term.

Campus Life: Food and Lifestyle

credit: Garrett Gill 

So you have your classes and your books. What next?

College Lifetips – Get over a hundred articles guiding students through admissions to dating to student health.

College Tips – Get real college tips from real college students. College Tips is a great resource for future and current students looking to make the most of their college experience. From study to laundry to party, College Tips will guide you through the ins and outs of student life.

The Dorm Chef – Dorm-friendly recipes for students who want to eat well but don't have a traditional kitchen or a huge grocery budget. Most recipes only call for a microwave and/or a grill.

DormDelicious – Provides dorm decor advice, decorating ideas, and organization tips. Also get helpful tips from other students for decorating your college digs.

MyEdu – MyEdu makes managing your college career positively breezy. Plan your graduation roadmap, work out your semester schedules, and keep track of your progress – all at one place.

$5dollarPosters – When it comes to decorating a dorm room, nothing is easier than slapping a giant poster on a wall. $5dollarPosters.com sells high quality, 24"x36" posters for – yes, you guessed it! – $5. Even including shipping, their posters are cheaper than any other online retailer. Check out their eBay store for even better deals.

Off-Campus Life: Work and Travel

Higher education isn't all about school and study. Many students take advantage of this time to gain work experience or travel.

GrooveJob – The only kinds of jobs you'll find on GrooveJob are part-time jobs, hourly jobs, and seasonal jobs – exactly what most college students are looking for. Search by city to find jobs near you.

MonsterTRAK – Get interview prep, career advice, and information on entry-level jobs. You can also search their database for internships and entry-level jobs – perfect for students and recent graduates.

SnagAJob – Find part-time (or full-time) hourly jobs that work around your busy schedule. Create your profile, search for jobs, apply, and wait to be contacted by employers. SnagAJob makes it easy for you to connect with top employers across the country.

STA Travel – STA Travel provides students with competitive airfare, hotel/hostel, and tour rates for destinations all around the globe. Whether you're going for study, work, or fun, STA Travel makes traveling simple and easy for college students on a budget for money and time.

Studentjobs.gov - If you want to work for the U.S. government while you're in school, StudentJobs.gov is the place to go. Learn how to apply for jobs, build your resume, or search their database of over 15,000 employment opportunities.

Student Traveler – The largest travel magazine for college students in the U.S., Student Traveler provides news and guides for students interested in studying, working or teaching abroad.

StudentUniverse – A travel site for students with all things from destination guides to a booking engine, StudentUniverse provides students with the tools to get the best travel deals available online.

Other Ways to Save: Coupons, Classifieds, and Everything Else

Craigslist – Probably the most widely-used classifieds service, you can find apartment listings, cheap electronics, part-time job and internship opportunities, and much, much more. Just make sure you review the ads with a discerning eye.

StudentBistro – Find online deals and coupon codes for everything a student needs. The site is easy to navigate and completely free of charge AND registration.

Student Rate – Get coupon codes or print coupons for local and national deals for students. You'll have to register if you want to be entered in Student Rate's giveaway drawings or to get notifications when new deals get posted for your school, but non-members can get access to coupons without registration.

Student Savings Club – Find the local merchants that offer discounts and deals to students. All you need to do is show your school ID or print a coupon. (Faculty and staff can get most of the discounts, too!)

Uloop – A classifieds site that makes it easy for students to buy, sell, and trade with other students at their school. You can also look for jobs or internships, find roommates and apartments, or even join a carpool with others going your direction. All you need is your ".edu" e-mail address.

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Guest's picture

Great list of resources a few I never heard about but checked out and passed on to the group of youths am mentoring. Thanks for the resources!

Guest's picture
Kathleen Daniels

Thank you for sharing this details.