Essential Websites and Tools for Students and College Attainment Professionals
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Essential Websites for Students and College Attainment Professionals

The following websites and tools have been vetted and recommended by NCAN’s Advisory Task Force, a group of practitioners engaged in college access and success work. Each website provides access to resources to support underrepresented students as they apply to, enter, and succeed in postsecondary education.

Note: This list is not comprehensive. In fact, there are a ton of resources out there to assist your students with making well-informed college decisions. Do you know of a great resource that should be considered for this page? Email your resource suggestion, along with a description of 60 words or less, to us at ncan@ncan.org with the subject line “Essential Website Resource.”

TOPICS:  College Search  |  Career Exploration & Workforce Development  |  Financial Aid & Scholarships  |  Financial Aid Offer Comparison Tools  |  Test Prep


College Search

BigFuture College Search: BigFuture is the free college planning tool from NCAN member The College Board. The BigFuture website is full of information designed to help students find good-fit colleges among 3,500 institutions and leverage resources like the college comparison tool and campus visit guide. Students’ BigFuture accounts are the same ones they’ll use to register for the SAT, get and send their SAT scores, add schools to a customized college list, and access scholarship opportunities.

College Greenlight: With free registration, NCAN member College Greenlight provides advisers access to customized college match resources for their students, including the ability to monitor their students’ progress through the college search process. Advisers gain access to a database that is searchable by college name and includes fulsome details on admissions information, tuition and costs, deadlines, academics and majors, and student reviews.

College Raptor: This NCAN member organization provides a free college search and planning site that helps students find prospective colleges based on academics, desired majors, location preferences, extracurricular interests, and financial circumstances. College Raptor offers detailed information on colleges and allows students to rank colleges based on their interests.

Get Schooled: Students with questions about college entrance exams, applications, financial aid, and succeeding at their first job can text “HELLO” to 33-55-77 to get answers via text message. The Get Schooled website and mobile platform also offer tips for succeeding in high school, a scholarship database, as well as tools to explore college options and find a job to help pay for school. Additionally, this NCAN member has produced a COVID-19 resource page which includes information and tips on distance learning, returning to school in the fall, finding a job, and staying healthy.

Career Exploration & Workforce Development

CareerVillage: CareerVillage’s free website crowdsources career guidance from over 50,000 experienced professionals dedicated to helping students jumpstart their careers. CareerVillage is designed to provide career information and advice to underrepresented students, and over 4 million learners have used the site to get personalized responses to career-related questions and search careers by geographic region. Educators can also access lesson plans for students to learn about careers.

College Raptor: College Raptor’s Careers Center provides a variety of career exploration options for students, including those who have confirmed their interests and those who are still exploring career fields. Students can search for careers based on their projected growth, expected salaries, and current demand in the market. Students can also easily access information about the types of degrees they’ll need to earn to enter and succeed in each field.

Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce: Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy provides this website allowing students and their families to explore national and state salary data, searchable by degree level and major. Additionally, students can explore up-to-date data on the majors needed to enter a variety of career fields, ranging from agriculture to the social sciences.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

BigFuture Scholarship Search: The Scholarship Search feature on the BigFuture website allows students to explore scholarships, financial aid, and internship opportunities from over 2,200 programs (totaling almost $6 billion). Students can personalize their search and filter results based on academic interests, award types, club and organization membership, and military status.

College Board Opportunity Scholarships: Launched in fall 2018, the College Board Opportunity Scholarships program outlines six important steps in the college planning process and offers students a chance to earn a scholarship for each action they complete. Students and advisers can leverage the scholarship opportunities through each phase of the college planning process. Additionally, educators can access implementation guides to seamlessly integrate College Board Opportunity Scholarships into their existing programming.

College Greenlight: Among the many resources on this site are tools to help students navigate and access over $11 billion in scholarship funds. Students can create a free College Greenlight profile and be matched to scholarship opportunities for which they qualify. Students can search through local scholarships based on their geographic region and merit-based scholarships.

Fastweb: This website provides students with scholarship opportunities that are targeted to their skills and interests. Students also have access to resources that can help them make informed financial decisions and explore part-time job opportunities in the industries that interest them most.

Get Schooled: Students with questions about scholarships or financial aid can text HELLO to 33-55-77 to get answers via text message. The website and mobile platform also offer a scholarship database and job-search tools.

RaiseMe: Students can sign up for free to create a RaiseMe account and earn micro-scholarships for their accomplishments as early as 9th grade. High school students and college students attending community colleges or four-year colleges can add their achievements to their RaiseMe portfolio and earn a micro-scholarship for each of their achievements from specific colleges. If the student attends the college, they will be awarded the micro-scholarship.

Scholarships A-Z: Students, regardless of their immigration status, can access a free list of scholarships organized by month and deadline. Students can access deadlines, scholarship contact information, award amounts, and application requirements in one place. The site provides resources and information targeted to DREAMers and DACA recipients, who are not eligible for federal financial aid.

Scholarships.com: Allows high school, college, nontraditional, and adult learners to complete a free profile and then get matched to eligible scholarships and grants from colleges, universities, organizations, foundations, corporations, government, and more. In addition to its scholarship directory, the website compares searchable information on more than 4,000 colleges and universities, including admission statistics, athletics, enrollment data, academic majors, tuition, and financial aid.

SwiftStudent: Students can learn about the financial aid appeal process, review eligibility requirements, and customize free template appeal letters to submit to their college financial aid office. This virtual resource guides students through the appeal process relating to numerous special circumstances that may make them eligible for an adjustment to their financial aid, such as recent job loss of a parent, a medical crisis, and loss of childcare or housing.

Financial Aid Offer Comparison Tools

BigFuture Financial Aid Awards: The Financial Aid Awards section of the BigFuture website provides a wealth of information helping students and their families understand and compare their financial aid offer(s) to make informed college decisions. Students can access videos featuring financial aid experts to help them understand their best financial options.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: The CFPB’s Financial Aid Comparison tool allows students to compare financial aid offers for up to three schools at a time. If a student doesn’t yet have a financial aid offer from a school, this tool can also show where to find and compare relevant costs and provide a clearer sense of college costs and financial aid for advanced planning.

Test Prep

ACT Academy: NCAN member ACT, Inc. provides students access to ACT Academy, a free online learning tool and test practice program designed to help students earn the best score possible on the ACT test. Students can access a personalized study plan based on their ACT test scores; PreACT scores; official practice tests; and diagnostics administered through the platform. The tool offers video lessons, interactive practice questions, full-length practice tests, educational games, and other materials targeted to students’ academic needs.

Official SAT Practice - Khan Academy: Khan Academy offers free, personalized SAT practice available anytime, anywhere to students seeking to improve their SAT scores. The College Board and Khan Academy have found 20 hours of practice using the site’s resources “is associated with an average 115-point increase from the PSAT/NMSQT to the SAT, nearly double the average gain without Khan.” Features include eight full-length official practice tests, study and test-taking tips, a tailored practice plan, instant feedback, and thousands of interactive practice questions, video lessons, and hints.


NCAN is grateful to these college attainment professionals for their contributions to this resource list:

  • Janelle Addis, Fulfillment Fund Las Vegas
  • Jonathan April, College Greenlight
  • Heather Bacchiocchi, Massasoit Community College
  • Kayla Boss, KIPP Through College
  • Heather Constantine, Communities in School, Houston
  • Jamie Covell, Iowa College Aid
  • Angel Garcia, Georgetown University, Institute for College Preparation
  • Sonia Gonzalez, Squash and Education Alliance
  • Amy Kirschenbaum, Options Center, Goddard Riverside
  • Meghan Lynch, CollegeTracks
  • Peter Marsden, CollegeTracks
  • Anne Michie, GRASP

(Photo: Kevin Kopanski Photo/College Now Greater Cleveland)