6 Reasons to Use CollegeBoard.org

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Whether you remember or not, you’ve used — or will soon use — CollegeBoard.org. That’s because The College Board owns and administers the SAT.

But the self-ascribed mission-driven not-for-profit organization does a lot more than allow you to take college entrance exams. Its tools and resources just might help you decide where you go to college and how you pay for it.

Let’s look at CollegeBoard.org by answering four questions about what it is and how to use it:

What is CollegeBoard.org?
How do you create a CollegeBoard.org account?
What can you use CollegeBoard.org for?
How can CollegeBoard.org help you make a plan?

What is CollegeBoard.org?

CollegeBoard.org is home to some of the best data about how we educate teens and 20-somethings in America today. That’s because it’s led by members of 6,000-plus colleges, universities and other institutions.

It’s also a go-to resource for high school teachers, administrators and other professionals in the field of education. For example, there is an online community for teachers of Advanced Placement (AP) courses. The College Board created AP to give high school students the opportunity to receive credit for college-level classes at a lower cost.

But it’s no surprise that the primary users of the website are students. CollegeBoard.org has claimed that it helps more than 7 million students each year make the jump from high school to college.

Because it’s the only gateway to college entrance exams like the SAT, high school juniors and seniors are directed to use the website by their high school’s college counselors. Once logged in, you’ll find free library-like resources on college planning and career mapping.

How do you create a CollegeBoard.org account?

You can roam CollegeBoard.org without creating an account. However, signing up for an account is necessary to:

  • Register for the SAT and CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) exams and print your admission tickets
  • Access your SAT and AP scores and send them to schools
  • Build and manage your list of preferred colleges
  • Create and save your college scholarship searches

Signing up is an easy process — it took me less than five minutes to complete. You’ll be asked for your basic personal information, and you’ll also need to choose your high school from a drop-down menu.

You could also include your parent’s information so that they receive the same updates you do, plus a monthly newsletter containing information about SAT prep and college planning.

What can you use CollegeBoard.org for?

Once you’ve signed into CollegeBoard.org, you’ll be welcomed onto the site by your first name and grade level. If you’re an 11th-grader named Andrew, for example, here’s what you’ll see upon logging in for the first time (as of July 2020):

CollegeBoard.org

If you’re a junior, you’ll also receive a season-by-season checklist to prepare college. You’d be advised to:

No matter your year in school, there are many useful free tools and resources on the site. Here are six things the CollegeBoard.org website can help you accomplish with ease:

1. Register and prep for the SAT
2. Learn about and explore AP courses
3. Build your list of preferred colleges
4. Study up on majors and career pathways
5. Complete the CSS Profile and pick up financial aid advice
6. Search and apply for college scholarships

1. Register and prep for the SAT

The SAT is a standardized test used all over the country by colleges and universities to compare applicants. High school juniors and seniors take the grueling exam, each chasing that perfect 1600 score.

Via CollegeBoard.org, you can:

  • Register: It takes 30 to 40 minutes to complete.
  • Choose a test date: 67 percent of students do better on their second try.
  • Study up on the test’s content: It will test reading, writing, language and math.
  • Send scores to your preferred colleges: The first four submissions are free.

CollegeBoard.org has also partnered with the Khan Academy on SAT prep, meaning you won’t have to rely on thick paperback books or expensive prep courses. Using the Khan Academy platform, you can set up your own schedule, identify your weaknesses and take up to eight practice tests.

Aside from the SAT, you can also sign up for the following tests:

2. Learn about and explore AP courses

Although all AP placement and learning takes place at your high school, CollegeBoard.org is the one-stop-shop to:

  • Learn how to approach teachers about enrolling if they haven’t approached you
  • Consider the benefits, such as college credit and improving your college application
  • Explore specific courses, from art history to calculus and beyond

The site is particularly useful for finding the courses you might be interested in taking. If you think you might major in journalism down the road, for example, you could explore CollegeBoard.org’s guide to AP English Language and Composition.

Taking that course as a high school junior or senior might mean you can cross off a general education requirement once you arrive on your college campus. It could also be a test for whether you truly enjoy the written word.

Beyond AP prep, CollegeBoard.org is also the place to find out how you performed on your AP tests. Colleges and universities look at your scores when deciding whether to grant you college credit.

To match your scores to your College Board profile, you’ll need to enter your AP number and student ID. You should have received both when you enrolled in an AP course.

3. Build your list of preferred colleges

Everything that CollegeBoard.org has to offer from this point forward is about looking forward. You’ll be moved to a section of the site — and a URL — called BigFuture.CollegeBoard.org.

The College Board doesn’t have the market cornered on comparing colleges. Other established companies, from The Princeton Review to Fastweb, offer the same filters to narrow down your list of preferred schools. After all, filters like school type, cost and admission statistics are among the factors to consider when choosing a college.

The difference at CollegeBoard.org or rather, BigFuture.CollegeBoard.org, is that it offers instruction about how to think about these categories before beginning your college search. For each category, you might benefit from asking questions like these:

Kinds of collegesAm I limiting my choices by focusing on whether a college is public or private?
LocationHow close to home do I want to be? Close enough for meals and laundry, to visit on weekends or to only come home on breaks?
Campus settingDo I see myself at a college with lots of students or in a smaller community?
CostWill I qualify for financial aid?
MajorsWhat are my favorite school subjects? What do I like doing when I’m not in class?
Learning environmentDo I prefer to be part of small group discussions or to listen to lectures? How much interaction do I want with my professors?

Answering these questions first will help you become more efficient in whittling down your college choices from 3,711 to, say, 15 or 20. You can be as specific as you see fit, from zeroing in on schools that accept a specified SAT score range, offer a certain amount of financial aid for college or have a unique sport or club activity on campus.

As you’re clicking on schools, you’ll see brochure-like campus photos backed up by hard data. If financial aid is your (or your parent’s) top concern, you can use that statistic to compare schools. Kansas State University, for example, awarded an average of $13,657 per student — however, its intrastate rival University of Kansas checked in at $17,896.

At this stage, you’re evaluating schools, not discarding them from consideration over one factor. College Board’s tool is meant for:

  • Adding potential preferred schools to your college list
  • Comparing up to three colleges side by side
  • Using the academic tracker to see if your grades and test scores are keeping you on pace for admission

4. Study up on majors and career pathways

More useful for high school seniors than juniors, this section of the site is working under the assumption that your future career is the sum of your current interests. That’s how it expects you to find your major area of study.

Whether you agree with this line of thinking or not, CollegeBoard.org offers an array of resources centered around its major and career search. Pretty much every imaginable job has a profile page detailing:

  • Characteristics that might make you a fit
  • Tasks you can take on during high school to get on track
  • Information on the outlook and return on investment of majors and professions

The upside of this section of the site is that if you’re not ready to get down to specifics, you can browse different content about career paths. Click on interesting keywords and go down the rabbit hole of one before coming up for another that might interest you.

No one expects you to decide on a major, let alone a career, after reviewing CollegeBoard.org’s free resources. Still, your research here just might inform your decision down the road.

5. Complete the CSS Profile and pick up financial aid advice

Like the SAT, the CSS Profile makes CollegeBoard.org a must visit for nearly all families preparing for college. Think of it as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but for non-federal financial aid.

For the 2020-21 school year, the CSS Profile was slated to be used by 240 colleges and universities to dispense institutional, state and private financial aid for college. The CSS Profile becomes available annually on Oct. 1 (just like the FAFSA).

Beyond providing CSS Profile tips and tricks, CollegeBoard.org is not pretending to be the definitive source on how to finance your years of college. It does, however, have content on everything from applying for the FAFSA and securing grants to considering private student loans and comparing financial aid packages.

If you’d rather learn by doing, use your time toying with three interactive tools to estimate and plan for the costs of going to school.

ToolQuestion it answersWhat you needBest for…
College savings calculatorAre you saving enough to afford school?Estimated college costs and current college savingsMiddle and high school students and their parents
Student loan calculatorWill you be able to afford your postgraduate student loan payments?Anticipated graduation year, projected first salary and your student loan amountsHigh school seniors and college underclassmen who are wary of choosing a major that leads to a low-paying career
Compare your aid awardsWhich of your top schools offers the best aid package?Cost of attendance and financial aid awards of as many as four different schoolsHigh school seniors who have already received college award letters

This might seem like getting too far ahead of the game if you’re in the 11th or 12th grade, or the parent of someone who is. But the faster you can answer these questions, the more prepared you’ll be to pay for school — that’s CollegeBoard.org’s intent, anyway.

6. Search and apply for college scholarships

The calculators and tools in the “Pay for College” section of CollegeBoard.org might add some urgency to your search for gift aid. Fortunately, the site also hosts one of the web’s most useful scholarship search tools.

In fact, CollegeBoard.org claims it has access to 2,200 aid programs offering about $6 billion in awards.

To narrow it down, you can enter personal information to see which scholarships might fit you best. There are scholarships geared toward many different groups, such as underrepresented students, students with disabilities and students meeting other special conditions.

How can CollegeBoard.org help you make a plan?

If those six areas of focus seemed like an overload, worry not. CollegeBoard.org dedicates a part of its site to making a plan, whether you’re a seventh-grader just learning about college or a senior in high school who’s already chosen one.

CollegeBoard.org

If your brain needs a break, you might also appreciate being presented with a Mad Libs-style quiz that can build out a personalized plan for you.

The five-question quiz will ask you about your:

  1. Grade level
  2. Experience searching for colleges
  3. Knowledge about financing college
  4. Preferences for two- or four-year schools
  5. Reason for looking forward to college

Taking your answers into account, your dashboard will list interactive activities. You might watch a video about talking to college counselors or go through an exercise to help narrow down your choice of major.

It’s a good spot to visit on CollegeBoard.org when you feel bombarded with all of the pre-college information you have to digest. The planning function makes a checklist of everything else on the site, allowing you to focus on one thing at a time and move through the content at your own pace.

CollegeBoard.org is not a perfect platform, but it does cater to users who aren’t sure about next steps just as it helps users who know exactly what they’re looking for.

It’s free to use, it’s there when you need it — and if you (or your child) is in high school, you’ll need it soon.

Need a student loan?

Here are our top student loan lenders of 2020!
LenderVariable APREligibility 
1.24% – 11.44%1Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit Earnest

1.25% – 11.15%*,2Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit SallieMae

1.24% – 11.98%3Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit College Ave

1.24% – 12.49%4Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Discover

1.80% – 11.89%5Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit SoFi

2.71% – 12.99%6Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Ascent

3.52% – 9.50%7Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit CommonBond

* 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 Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Rates include 0.25% Auto Pay Discount
     
  2. Explanation of Rates “With Autopay” (APD)
    Rates shown include 0.25% APR discount when client agrees to make monthly principal and interest payments by automatic electronic payment. Use of autopay is not required to receive an Earnest loan.

    Available Terms
    For Cosigned loans – 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 years. 
    Primary Only – 10, 12, 15 years

    In school deferred payment is not available in AL, AZ, CA, FL, MA, MD, MI, ND, NY, PA, and WA).


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

3 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. Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay 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. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a first year graduate student 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 7.10% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $141.66 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $16,699.21. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

Information advertised valid as of 9/24/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Lowest advertised rates require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.


4 Important Disclosures for Discover.

Discover Disclosures

  1. Aggregate loan limits apply.
  2. 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.
  3. Lowest APRs shown are available for the most creditworthy applicants and include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including undergraduate and graduate 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. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 0.375% as of July 1, 2020. Discover Student Loans may 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. Our lowest APR is only available to customers with the best credit and other factors. Your APR will be determined after you apply. It will be based on your credit history, which repayment option you choose and other factors, including your cosigner’s credit history (if applicable). Learn more about Discover Student Loans interest rates.
  4. Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for the Discover Private Consolidation Loan and include an Auto Debit Reward. 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. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 0.375% as of July 1, 2020. Discover Student Loans may 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. Our lowest APR is only available to customers with the best credit and other factors. Your APR will be determined after you apply. It will be based on your credit history, which repayment option you choose and other factors, including your cosigner’s credit history (if applicable). Learn more about Discover Student Loans interest rates.
Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans, and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.

5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

sofiDisclosures

UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.23% to 11.76% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.90% to 11.66% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 11.83% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.80% to 11.73% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.30% to 11.98% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.97% to 11.89% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.60% to 11.26% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.90% to 11.16% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 07/10/2020. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).


6 Important Disclosures for Ascent.

Ascent Disclosures

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). 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. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.

  1. Competitive variable rates calculated monthly at the time of loan approval based on a margin plus the 1-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) rounded to the nearest 1/100th of a percent. The current LIBOR is 0.176%, which may adjust monthly. Your interest rate may increase or decrease, based on LIBOR monthly changes. Rates are effective as of 09/01/2020 and reflect an Automatic Payment Discount. Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. (See Automatic Payment Discount Terms & Conditions.)
    1. Undergraduate Loans: Your variable interest rate may increase or decrease, based on LIBOR monthly changes, resulting in an APR range between 2.71% and 12.99%.  Fixed rate loans will not increase or decrease over the life of the loan and have an APR range between 3.53% and 14.50%. Rates reflect an Automatic Payment Discount of 0.25% on the lowest offered rate and a 2.00% discount on the highest offered rate. The following table shows a 48 month in-school period plus 9 months of grace prior to a full repayment term of either: 60-months (lowest fixed/variable rate), 144-months (highest fixed rate) or 180-months (highest variable rate) with examples of (i) Interest Only payments, (ii) $25 Minimum payments, and (iii) Deferred repayment options. (See Undergraduate Loan repayment examples.)
  2. Payments may be deferred. Subject to lender discretion, forbearance and/or deferment options may be available for borrowers who are encountering financial distress.
  3. Making interest only or partial interest payments while in school will not reduce the principal balance of the loan. There are three (3) flexible in-school repayment options that include fully deferred, interest only and $25 minimum repayment. (See Undergraduate Loan repayment examples.)
  4. Flexible repayment plans may be offered up to a fifteen (15) year repayment term for a variable rate loan and ten (10) year repayment term for a fixed rate loan. Students must be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school. Minimum loan amount is $2,000.
  5. Interest rate reduction of either 0.25% (for Credit-Based Loans) or 2.00% (for Undergraduate Future Income-Based Loans) applies only when the borrower and/or cosigner sign up for automatic payments and the payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account each month. The amount of the discount is dependent upon the loan product and credit history of the borrower at the time of application. Interest rate reduction(s) will not apply during periods when no payment is due, including periods of in-school, deferment, grace or forbearance, unless a regular payment amount has been arranged with the servicer. If you have two (2) consecutive returned payments for Nonsufficient Funds, we may cancel your automatic debit enrollment and you will lose the interest rate reduction. You will then need to re-qualify and re-enroll in automatic debit payments to receive the interest rate reduction.(See Automatic Payment Discount Terms & Conditions.)
  6. All applicants (individual and cosigner) are required to complete a brief online financial literacy course as part of the application process to be eligible for funding.
  7. Eligibility, loan amount and other loan terms are dependent on several factors, which may include: loan product, other financial aid, creditworthiness, school, program, graduation date, major, cost of attendance and other factors. Aggregate loan limits may apply. The cost of attendance is determined and certified by the educational institution.
  8. The legal age for entering into contracts is eighteen (18) years of age in every state except Alabama where it is nineteen (19) years old, Nebraska where it is nineteen (19) years old (only for wards of the state), and Mississippi and Puerto Rico where it is twenty-one (21) years old.
  9. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details. In order to be eligible for the 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward, borrower must meet the following criteria after graduation:
    • The student borrower has graduated from the degree program that the loan was used to fund.
    • The student borrower may change majors and/or transfer to a different school, but must obtain the same level of degree (e.g. – undergraduate or graduate)
    • The graduation date is more than 90 days and less than five (5) years after the date of the loan’s first disbursement.
    • Any loan that the student has borrowed under the Ascent loan is not more than 30-days delinquent or in a default status as of the graduation date and until any Graduation Reward is paid.
  10. Students can apply to release their cosigner and continue with the loan in only their name after making the first 24 consecutive regularly scheduled full principal and interest payments on-time and meeting the other eligibility criteria to qualify for the loan without a cosigner.

* Application times vary depending on the applicant’s ability to supply the necessary information for submission.


7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.17% effective Sep 1, 2020 and may increase after consummation.


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.