Why You Should Check Out the College Navigator

All week I’ve been sharing great tools to research colleges. Today I want to feature the federal College Navigator. The College Navigator is a dull-looking website, but it contains incredible tools that tap into a vast college database that the U.S. Department of Education maintains.

To illustrate what College Navigator can do, I’m using as an example Ohio State University, which is the nation’s largest public university. After I typed Ohio State into the College Navigator search engine, the software instantly produced 11 categories of information.

I clicked on “Financial Aid” first and discovered that 95% of Ohio State’s 40,212 undergraduates receive some type of financial aid.  Eighty seven percent received grants — money that doesn’t have to be repaid — and the average grant is $6,898. I also discovered that 76% of Ohio State undergrads borrow money for college and the average yearly total is $4,805.

Also on the site, you can find costs of Ohio State, the academic profile of its admitted students, the numbers of students in each of the school’s academic majors and much more. The software also provided me with Ohio State’s graduation rates. Forty two percent of Ohio State students who started in 2002 graduated in four years and 73% earned a degree in six years.

Another cool feature of College Navigator is that you can type in your own variables when searching for schools. For instance, I directed the software to find four-year public and private schools within 250 miles of  Chicago. The software quickly produced a list of  304 schools with links to all of them.

Bottomline:  The College Navigator is an easy way to research schools without leaving your chair.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon.com bestseller, and a college blogger for CBSMoneyWatch.com.

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