There are over 3,700 two- and four-year colleges in the United States. With so many to choose from, how can you find the best fit for you?
A college search engine is the best place to start. With these tools, you can filter your results by location, school size, tuition costs, selectivity, or other factors. Some even feature reviews from students.
To help you get started, we’ve collected the best college search engines from around the web. If you’re putting together your college list, check out these 10 online tools.
1. College Board’s BigFuture
College Board offers one of the best search tools around with BigFuture. Among other options, you can search by test scores, location, majors, support services, and diversity. If you create an account, you can save your favorite colleges and revisit them later. In addition to its college search engine, College Board offers tips on how to apply for financial aid or explore careers.
Cappex is another top resource for learning about colleges. You can search through thousands of schools, plus you can estimate your chances of admission based on your GPA and admission test scores.
You can also use the “Cappex fit meter” to gauge whether a college could be a good match for you. The fit meter assigns a percentage to each school-based on your preferences, like school size and tuition cost. If you get 90 percent or higher, the school could be a great fit.
Finally, the site has over 1.4 million student reviews so that you can read about students’ firsthand experiences. Cappex is one of the best college search sites for personalizing your results and finding the right college for you.
3. College Insight
Some college search sites let you save a list of your favorites, but College Insight takes things a step further. With College Insight, you build your tables with any combination of variables to compare colleges. You can pick out the most relevant data and compare schools in the way that makes sense for you.
4. College Confidential
You might know College Confidential as a discussion forum, but the site also offers a comprehensive college search engine. The filters don’t get as specific as some other sites, but they’re enough to help you start building a college list. Once you narrow your results, you can learn about each school’s acceptance rate, tuition costs, and test scores, among other essential facts.
Niche is another great resource for learning about colleges across the country. After narrowing down your list, you’ll see that each college comes with a “report card” and overall grade. Niche gives grades for professors, athletics, dorms, and safety, among other concerns. Plus, it creates its rankings based on data from the U.S. Department of Education so that you can browse the best colleges by state or major.
Unigo mixes up the traditional college search format. Instead of selecting filters, you’ll answer questions through a Buzzfeed-style quiz. Then, Unigo will match you with colleges based on your responses. You can learn about each school, as well as read unbiased student reviews. Besides its college search engine, Unigo also helps you find scholarships.
7. College Navigator
College Navigator is a free search tool offered by the National Center for Education Statistics. Although the design of the website isn’t exactly slick, it’s a thorough directory with up-to-date info.
You can filter schools by location, selectivity, sports teams, and other criteria. Plus, you can indicate tuition costs and your state of residency; the tool will take into account in-state versus out-of-state tuition. Use College Navigator for a no-frills look at facts and figures.
8. College Simply
College Simply doesn’t have a ton of search filters, but it does collect a huge number of student reviews. You can look for schools by test scores, state, ranking, or acceptance rate. Then, learn some basic facts about each college and read through reviews. Although College Simply isn’t as thorough as some other sites, it’s a useful place to start your college list.
9. College View
If you have specific preferences, head to College View’s college search engine. This directory has over 20 filters. You can search for colleges by gender mix, political inclination, Greek life, and party scene, along with the traditional filters like tuition cost and test scores. Once you’ve created a list, you can use College View’s map view to compare schools by location.
10. College XPress
Over 4.2 million students use College Xpress to learn about colleges and browse rankings. In addition to getting matched with schools, you can find over $7 billion in scholarship opportunities. Plus, College XPress gives away a $10,000 scholarship to one random winner every May. After you create an account, you’ll be able to sign back in later to revisit your college list or track your scholarship applications.
Reflect on what you want in a college
All these tools contain a wealth of information about colleges across the country. But to make the most of them, you first need to reflect on what you want out of a college. To get started, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want to stay close to home or go across the country?
- Would I prefer a rural, suburban, or urban setting?
- Am I looking for a small, medium, or big school?
- Do I care about a small professor-to-student ratio?
- What am I looking for regarding majors, student organizations, or sports teams?
Once you’ve figured out what you want in a college, use a college search engine to find schools that match your preferences. As you finalize your list, use these 10 tips to compare colleges and select the one that’s best for you.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
|1 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or Nationwide Bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
2 Important Disclosures for Discover.
3 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB) or Turnstile Capital Management, LLC (TCM), which are not affiliated entities. Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. All loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Other terms and conditions apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of TCM and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for PNC.
PNC Bank is one of the nation’s largest education loan providers. For over 40 years, PNC has been committed to helping students and their families make possible the adventure of college.
6 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
9 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|3.69% – 10.94%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CollegeAve|
|3.99% – 12.99%2||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Discover|
|3.82% – 12.82%3||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Ascent|
|4.12% – 10.98%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit SallieMae|
|5.03% – 11.23%5||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit PNC|
|3.88% – 12.88%6||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit SunTrust|
|4.68% – 9.77%7||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit LendKey|
|3.72% – 9.68%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CommonBond|
|4.04% – 12.01%9||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit Citizens|