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Finding Answers to Your College Questions

When it comes to preparing for college, there are many important questions that a family has to ask. Here are some of the big ones:

  1. How do I find the right college for my child?
  2. How much does each school cost?
  3. Where can I find the timeline for admissions?
  4. What are the admissions criteria for each school?
  5. How can I compare in-state and out-of-state schools?
  6. How do I fill out the FASFA?

The College Board website is one of the best sites available to serve as your information hub to answer all of these questions. It provides extremely helpful college statistics for prospective students, which in turn will help your child decide which school is right for him/her and whether you will be able to afford it. Most noteworthy are the financial aid statistics, which demonstrate how generous each college is when it comes to need-based aid.

Using the College Search Function

Here, we are going to focus specifically on how to use the College Board website to find key financial statistics:

  • In-state tuition
  • Out-of-state tuition
  • Percentage of financial need that is met by the school
  • The total cost of attendance—in other words, tuition plus all other expenses.

Quick definition: Total Cost of Attendance (COA) includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses.  Your COA is a key statistic in figuring out if you are eligible for financial aid and, if so, how much you are eligible for.

On the College Board website, here is how to find key financial statistics like the COA:

  • Go to
  • Scroll down to the ‘College Search’ bar towards the bottom of the page and type in the college of your choice (example: University of Florida)
  • Click “Search”
  • There will be a list of links on the left-hand pane in the webpage; click “Paying”
    • You will be brought to a page displaying many key statistics in the tab labeled “Cost of Attendance” for both in-state and out-of-state. You can cycle between in-state and out-of-state in the lower set of tabs.

Furthermore, we highly recommend clicking on the tab “Financial Aid By the Numbers.” Here you will see invaluable statistics regarding financial aid. Not only can you see what percentage of financial need a college meets on average, but you can also see what percentage of this financial aid will be free money (scholarships/grants) or money with strings attached (loans/work-study).

Good news: these steps can be repeated for any school in the US (and many outside the US as well).

Key Takeaways

  • The College Board website is a wealth of information and a major asset regarding all college planning and research.
  • The College Board website is a great place to pull key financial figures regarding any school in the US (and many outside of the US); these key financial figures are very easy to find for any school.
  • This visibility into key statistics that are readily available can be very valuable for your college financial planning, need-based aid planning, and tuition budgeting.


Please enjoy the rest of this article series on How to Utilize Online Resources for College Planning, and if you have questions, please ask!

This post is Part Two of a seven-part article series entitled How to Utilize Online Resources for College Planning. 

Part 1: How to Research Scholarships

Part 3: College Planning Alphabet Soup – FAFSA, CSS, EFC, COA

Part 4: Researching Student Loans

Part 5: How to Check Your Admissions Probability for College

Part 6: Endowments: Finding Where the Money is

Part 7: Educating Yourself When It Comes to Paying for College


Erik Fischer, CFP


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