Here are a few websites to help you in your search:
1. "See Your Kids in College"
The purpose of this site is to give parents, teachers, and coaches an easy, convenient, and effective method to turn their kids on to the whole concept of a college education.
We parents, teachers, and coaches frequently make the mistake of encouraging kids to seek a college education the same way we encourage them to eat their broccoli. Essentially, we say, "Get a college education because it's good for you." But in saying that, we ignore the twin facts that college may sound like work, but it looks like fun.
In my "See Your Kids in College" website, I encourage us adults to take our kids on tours of college campuses - starting as early as middle school - to let real college students model the success we want our students to first desire and to then achieve. And pardon me when I say that this method works like you can't believe.
The site is still under development, but you are welcome to take a look at the almost-finished product:
Certain college majors offer significant employment opportunities with excellent earnings, while some college majors can be lumped together into what I call "pre-barista" majors. Here is a short earnings comparison:
Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors
Just because a college has overall accreditation doesn't mean that all the programs it offers are accredited. Many specialized college programs require special accreditation. A good video on the topic can be seen here:
If you click on the subject area, you will be given more complete description of the organization with a link to its website. Then click on whatever that organization calls its list of accredited college programs.
4. Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
A very important site for information on engineering, computer science, and applied technology programs is:
Click on "Accredited Program Search" in the upper right corner, and follow the instructions. You will probably need to learn some new terms. For instance, there is a big difference between "Electrical Engineering" programs and "Electrical Engineering Technology" programs.
5. Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)
We live in a western state that is a member of this organization. Essentially, if another state has a member program at a one of its state colleges, a limited number of out-of-state students can enroll in that program and pay just 150% of in-state tuition, usually a significant savings over out-of-state tuition. Here's their homepage:
To learn more about WUE and to do a search of WUE schools and programs, click the "Students and Parents" button.
6. Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Remember that Net Price Calculator programs provide preliminary estimates of the actual financial aid award that students and families should expect at each college. If the student decides to apply to that college, it will almost certainly require the family to complete the U.S. government's Free Application for Federal Student Aid, called the FAFSA. The procedure is complete and somewhat formal with results logged to the individual student by identifying data. The result of the FAFSA is the so-called Expected Family Contribution or EFC. Here's the link:
Some college Net Price Calculator programs are simplified if you know your EFC. An easy, informal method for getting a quick estimate of your EFC can be found on the College Board's Big Future site. Here's the link:
EFC Estimators are provided within many college NPC programs which are even easier than the College Board's estimator, but their accuracy varies a lot. I have found that the one provided by the University of Washington is very accurate, and there's a hyperlink to it on this page:
As I gaze into my crystal ball, here's what I see happening in financial aid for the coming year:
This is a new page on ACG, and more text and analysis will be coming soon...
For a market to develop and for natural market forces to work requires knowledge of alternative sources and pricing, and Congress obviously intended to introduce natural market forces into the college search process with the Net Price Calculator requirement in 2008. The spread of knowledge about NPC's since then has been glacial; but, as Net Price Calculators become part of the knowledge base for American education consumers, I expect college cost/student loan market knowledge to increase dramatically. Students and parents will do their own NPC research based on their own finances, and they will naturally choose more affordable alternatives. This will result in lower costs-after-aid and a lower necessity for college indebtedness across that market each year until net costs reach a new stability at a lower level. There is some present evidence of this for, although college costs continue to go up, annual student loan volumes are falling.