Web Wealth: Lots of resources on how to pay for college

The U.S. News page has links to sites offering to help a student set upa program for accepting loans or grants from family, friends, and others.
The U.S. News page has links to sites offering to help a student set upa program for accepting loans or grants from family, friends, and others.
Posted: January 09, 2011

Students and families in the thick of college planning could look to these sites about how to pay for it all. Even if college is years away, it's time now to decide if a so-called 529 savings plan is for you.

Paying for college. U.S. News & World Report is famous for its annual college rankings, but the website also features plenty of information on the nitty-gritty of financing a higher education, including tips on how to manage college loans. Its listings include "best values," and a guide to the most affordable colleges.

Creating your own scholarship program in the age of social media is the focus of this additional U.S. News page. It has links to sites - such as greennote.com, scholarmatch.com, and sponsormydegree.com - that offer to help a student set up a formal program for accepting loans or grants from family, friends, and even former strangers.

Collegeboard.com, where prospective college students register to take the SAT, also has a lot of information on how to pay for college. Separate sections approach the problem from the perspectives of parents and students. This is the student page with calculators, scholarship search help, and tools for comparing aid awards from different colleges.

Of prime importance this time of year for most families seeking college financial aid of any kind is to fill out the so-called FAFSA form at the U.S. Department of Education site. Here's where to get started. Most colleges and universities require the form before they'll award aid.

Tax-free savings programs called 529 plans (they're cleverly named for a section in the Internal Revenue Service tax code) provide several ways to stash money away for college. Savingforcollege.com, a site owned by Bankrate Inc., describes the plans and how to enroll in them. Some are operated by states; others are set up for prepaying tuition at public or private institutions.


Contact staff writer Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114 or rkanaley@phillynews.com.

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