US Department of Education web site with the FAFSA
US Department of Education
Student financial assistance site with link to The Student Guide for Financial Aid
Financial aid information page that provides a free, comprehensive, independent and objective guide to student financial aid
College Link (FastWeb)
College search and comparisons; financial aid information
In every major bookstore there are many college guidebooks that you can purchase to help you navigate the college admission process. Almost all of these books are available in the college conference room for your perusal, and almost all of the information in them is available from various college web sites.
Guidebooks can be divided into three major categories: comprehensive guidebooks, subjective guidebooks and books about the college admission process.
Barron's Profiles of American Colleges: Gives the average class size in introductory courses, labs, upper level classes, etc. instead of merely average class size overall which can hide numbers.
The College Handbook: Breaks down admission by male and female. Also includes an index for sports at each school, telling which schools play division I or division III in each sport.
Peterson's Guide to American Colleges: Though this may be one of the most popular comprehensive guidebooks, you should be aware that colleges pay to be represented in it. Thus, the information may not be objectively presented.
ARCO's The Right College, College Admissions Data Handbook, Kaplan's The College Catalogue, and PrincetonReview's Big Book of Colleges
These guidebooks try to give you a "feel" for a college. They offer opinions about what is good and bad about the colleges and rate their quality. These opinions can be very helpful, but you have to remember that they are subjective and that the conclusions reached by the writers of these books may or may not be the same ones you reach.
The Fiske Guide to Colleges: Ted Fiske rates each school on its academics, social life and quality of life. One of the best features of the Fiske Guide is that he gives a list of "overlap" institutions for each school—schools that you also might consider if you are considering that school.
Insider's Guide to the Colleges: This was compiled by Yale students and is very easy to use. It has a college "finder" that helps you find schools you might be interested in based on categories.
Princeton Review's The Best 331 Colleges: This book reaches its conclusions based on the reflections of independent counselors. It is a bit more entertaining than some of the others—it ranks schools by quality of food, intensity of study, levels of drinking, and degree of "granola"—but you may not find it truly helpful.
Colleges That Change Lives, Loren Pope: This is an excellent source for students who know that they want to attend a small liberal arts college. It gives examples of schools that may be lesser known but still have excellent programs.
Books about the College Admission Process
These books are all about "how to get into college," rather than about which college you should attend, and each offers some insight into the world of college admission. Many of them are quite helpful and are interesting reading, but they may be a bit sensationalistic at times.
A is for Admission, Michelle Hernandez: Hernandez worked for four years in the admission office of Dartmouth and left when her husband was denied tenure there. What follows is a blasting of the Ivy League admission process and the people who run it. It is quite interesting and insightful but probably not too helpful for those about to enter the process.
The Gatekeepers, Jacques Steinberg: Steinberg is an educational reporter for the New York Times and spent a year in the admission office of Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT. His work follows both the admission officers and six students who are applying to the school.
Looking Beyond the Ivy League, Loren Pope: This is a defense of small liberal arts colleges by the author ofColleges That Change Lives. For students who don't have the numbers to get into Ivys but who would like a similar experience, this is an excellent source.
Playing the Selective College Admissions Game, Richard Moll: This opens with a 75-page re-creation of a college admission office meeting and gives you an interesting picture of what colleges are genuinely looking for. It is a valuable resource for parents.
Questions and Admissions: Reflections on 100,000 Admissions Decisions at Stanford, Jean Fetter: This is very good for admission officers and for people interested in the process, but it is probably not too helpful for someone about to apply to college.
Scaling the Ivy Walls, Howard Greene: This is an excellent source for students who are interested in applying to Ivy League colleges. It's not about tricks; it's about how excellent students can insure that they represent themselves in the best fashion.
Financial Aid Books and Guides
The College Board Scholarship Handbook: Undergraduate scholarships, internships and loan programs, The College Board.
College Cost and Financial Aid Handbook, The College Board: Compares costs and aid available at over 2,700 colleges.
College Scholarships and Financial Aid, John Schwartz: A general reference.
Peterson's Scholarships, Grants, and Prizes 2001: Guide to more sources for private aid than any other reference, Peterson's Guides, 2000.
The Scholarship Book 2001: The Complete Guide to Private-sector Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Loans for the Undergraduate, Daniel J. Cassidy, 2000.