10 Free Search Tools to Find Your Dream School

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

college search engine
Logo

We’ve got your back! Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

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.

2. Cappex

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.

5. Niche

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.

6. Unigo

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 2019!
LenderVariable APREligibility 
* 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.

1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

(1)All rates shown include the auto-pay discount.  The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.

Information advertised valid as of 9/3/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.


2 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restrictions. Loans are offered through CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS #1175900).

  1.  Rates are as of July 1, 2019 and include auto-pay discount. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

4 Important Disclosures for Discover.

Discover Disclosures

  1. Students who get at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) qualify for a one-time cash reward on each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
  2. View Auto Reward Debit Reward Terms and Conditions at DiscoverStudentLoans.com/AutoDebitReward.
  3. Aggregate loan limits apply.
  4. Lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest interest rate offered on the Discover Undergraduate Loan and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate, Graduate, Health Professions, Law and MBA Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.50% as of July 1, 2019. Discover Student Loans will adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Please visit discover.com/student-loans/interest-rates for more information about interest rates.
Discover's lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.

5 Important Disclosures for Citizens.

Citizens Disclosures

  1. Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of September 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.14%. Variable interest rates range from 3.24% – 11.50% (3.24% – 11.35% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 4.72% – 12.19% (4.72% – 12.04% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown requires application with a co-signer, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.
  2. Citizens Bank Student Loan Eligibility: Borrowers must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible institution. Borrowers must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or an international borrower/eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For borrowers who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank- participating school. 

    Please Note: International Students are not eligible for the multi-year approval feature.

  3. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply. Borrowers whose loans were funded prior to reaching the age of majority may not be eligible for co-signer release. Note: co-signer release is not available on the Student Loan for Parents or Education Refinance Loan for Parents.
3.70%
11.98%
1
Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit College Ave

3.25% – 10.65%*,2Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit SallieMae

3.52% – 9.50%3Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit CommonBond

3.37%
11.87%
4
Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Discover

3.24% – 11.50%5Undergraduate and Graduate

VISIT CITIZENS

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

You're on your way...

We'll take you to Lendingtree.com where you'll be able to fill out one form to get multiple personal loan offers, based on your creditworthiness.