Tips On How To Afford College

Higher education in the United States is a diverse field, and finding the will and the money for college can be daunting for families. College costs have increased at about twice the inflation rate, with current increases averaging 5 percent to 8 percent.

What Are The Government's Plans To Make The College Process Easier?

The Education Secretary says the creation of a massive information system is high on her list of priorities. This would provide a way to judge how colleges and universities are doing in helping students succeed. It would require a vast collection of data on students, with a promise that their privacy will be protected. The department would then use the data to overhaul its college Web site. The idea is for people to compare one school to another, right down to the typical salaries of graduates.

How Can I Find Out About Grants, Scholarships?

College is a major life expense, so it may require being creative when it comes to financing it. Plus, in the past five years, the price of public colleges has increased 57 percent, but the maximum amount students can borrow from the federal loan program hasn't risen a dime.

Grants and scholarships are attractive ways to pay for college because you do not need to repay the money. SallieMae, which provides student loans and administrator of college savings plans, has helpful links to help you find these sources.

What Are Some Alternative To Grants?

If you feel you have all the grants and scholarships you can get, here are other tips from SallieMae:
Start saving now: Individual retirement accounts (IRAs), state-sponsored savings plans, and prepaid tuition plans are savings options that often offer tax advantages. Click here to find out more.

Save tuition: When scholarships, grants, loans, and alternative funding still aren't making the cost of tuition manageable, there are ways you can lower the tuition bill. Click here for more information.

Private loans: Private loans are the fastest-growing form of student aid today. Last year, lenders provided about $14 billion to students, an increase of more than 700 percent from a decade earlier.

What Are Pell Grants?

The Commission on Higher Education recommended increasing Pell Grants to cover at least 70 percent of in-state tuition costs. Pell Grants, the main form of federal aid for low-income students, now cover less than half the costs. Read more about their proposals here.

To Learn More About College Aid:

• Click here for a interactive, with data on schools in your state.

• Want to find out more about federal student aid? Click here.

• Click here to read more about college costs and planning for college.

• The Project On Student Debt has a state-level look at student loan debt.

• Tips for how to make college affordable to from the Education Finance Council.

Click here for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.