10 Best College Websites for Parents

10 Best College Websites for Parents

As a parent with a college-bound kid, you have plenty of things to think about, from submitting college applications and applying for financial aid to exploring scholarships and shopping for dorm room essentials. You’ll need a ton of information to navigate these things and, in the process, contribute to your college-bound child’s success.

This is why we made the list of the best college websites for parents, a collection of online resources that provide reliable information for undergraduate and graduate students about college life and its complexities.

In the following section, we will take a brief look at the useful features that parents with college-bound children will appreciate.

Or read on and check out the best college websites for parents...

10 Best College Websites for Parents

  1. The College Navigator website may have an outdated interface but it’s among the best college websites for prospective students who want to start their college search. Even undergraduate students who want to start their search for the best graduate programs sing its praises!

    The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) sponsors the web-based tool that aids parents and their college-bound students with reliable, relevant, and up-to-date information about colleges and universities across the United States. The wide range of features include links to university and college websites, a useful feature if you want more information on the higher education institution you’re planning on sending your child for his college education.

    College Search and Comparisons

    You can search for colleges and universities based on your specific criteria, such as college campus size and location, student body size and diversity, academic programs, and affordability. You can also compare multiple colleges in a side-by-side manner and, thus, determine their suitability for you and your college-bound child’s specific needs.

    Other criteria that can be used for college search and comparisons are retention and graduation rates, college campus safety and security, and athletics information. Parents and their children can also access information about the specific admissions process and requirements and application deadlines.

    College Affordability

    College costs are a significant cause of concern, so parents want detailed information about the cost of attendance and financial student aid options at their preferred colleges and universities. The College Navigator also has a net prices calculator for every higher education institution featured in its website. This feature allows you to make an informed decision regarding the wide range of factors that affect affordability, from the application fee to the tuition and fees.

    The College Navigator also allows parents and their college-bound children to save their college search results for future reference.

  2. Parents and their prospective students must ensure that their federal student aid forms are filled out correctly to maximize their funding. Managed by the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Student Aid website is among the best college websites for parents and their college-bound children who want reliable information and relevant tools related to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and other financial aid options.

    Indeed, of all the college websites featured here, we suggest looking into the Federal Student Aid website first if the cost of a college education is a significant cause for concern.

    FAFSA Application

    Parents and their college-bound students can complete and submit the FAFSA form online through the website. You will find plenty of useful tips about filling in the FAFSA completely and accurately here, too.

    Other useful FAFSA-related information that you and your college-bound children will find here include:

    • Detailed information about the different types of federal student aid programs for undergraduate and graduate students, such as the Pell Grants, Direct Loans, and Work-Study programs. You should take note of the eligibility criteria, application process and deadlines for each type of federal student aid.
    • Tools including net price calculators for estimating the amount of aid that you and your family may be eligible for. You will also get a better understanding of your expected family contribution.
    • Detailed information about other financial aid opportunities offered by federal and state agencies.

    You will also find updates and current news about federal student aid programs, such as the December release of the FAFSA forms (i.e., not on October 1).

    Loan and Repayment Information

    The Federal Student Aid website also provides information about:

    • Federal student loans including their interest rate and repayment options as well as current loan forgiveness programs
    • Repayment options, such as income-driven repayment
    • Loan entrance and exit counseling

    Financial Literacy Resources

    You will appreciate the updated financial literacy resources on the Federal Student Aid website, too, which are useful in setting college-related budgets, managing debts, and making informed financial decisions in life. There are also help and support resources for parents who want more clarification and assistance related to federal financial aid.

  3. Developed by NBC News Education and sponsored by NBC’s The Today Show, the Parent Toolkit is among the best college websites for prospective students and their parents who want the tips on thriving academically, socially, and emotionally. The website provides useful information suitable for Pre-K levels to college, meaning parents can quickly identify the best tips based on their children’s academic levels. The grade-specific resources are particularly useful for parents struggling with the transition from grade school to high school and then to college.

    Guidance on Social and Emotional Development

    Parents, you must remember that college success isn’t solely about academic success! Indeed, proper social and emotional development is a must for your children to overcome the challenges that come with college life. Managing stress, building relationships with others, and strengthening resilience are just as crucial as getting high grades.

    College Planning Guides

    While there are still many similarities between the college admission and application process then and now, parents of college-bound children must be cognizant of the differences, too. Changes in technology in particular contribute to these differences. You will find plenty of up-to-date, practical, and reliable guides about the contemporary college admissions and application process on this website.

    The Parent Toolkit also offered information about financial aid opportunities and the ways to take maximum advantage of them, as well as calculators for estimating college costs. Parents can also refer tips about achieving college readiness and academic success to their college-bound children, as well as career preparation resources. The interactive tools are complemented by engaging videos and articles that cater to different styles (e.g., visual or audio).

  4. Prospective students and their parents looking for the for the most reliable resources on the financial aspects of college should take a look at the content on the College Parents of America site. Its mission is to promote greater student achievement and provide parents with advice on supporting their children in college.

    Parents can access useful information on a wide range of subjects, from enjoying student life to maximizing financial aid opportunities. The College Parents of America website itself enables fast and easy access to informative articles through a search feature, as well as user-friendly tabs that categorize information. These tabs include Content, under which Articles, CPA Handbook, Checklists, Humor, and Research are placed, as well as Insurance Center and Student Loans.

    We suggest starting with the Articles section because there are plenty of topics covered here that parents and students will find relevant in their shared journey. The College Admissions Acronyms & Terms is of particular usefulness, too, because these can be overwhelming for first-timers, not to mention that there are new acronyms and terms.

  5. Prospective students and their parents are well-advised to engage in virtual tours because of the numerous benefits that these bring to the college application process! Even current students who want to see their college campuses in a new light may want to enjoy them, too.

    The best virtual college tours offer prospective students and their parents the opportunity to explore several college campuses in a convenient, cost-efficient, and time-saving manner. You and your college-bound child can enjoy virtual tours from the comfort of your home, meaning there’s less need for travel and accommodation expenses, less time spent, and less worries about physical and geographical accessibility. Plus, you will appreciate the realistic and immersive 360-degree photos and videos of the best virtual college tours.

    And the best college website for virtual tours of college campuses in the United States is the Princeton Review. While the Princeton Review is best-known as an education services company with a wide range of services and resources for students looking for the right college, its list of college virtual tours is extensive, too. The virtual campus tours usually include 360-degree panoramic photos and videos, interactive maps, and detailed information about the campus amenities and facilities.

    Of course, the virtual campus tours aren’t produced by the Princeton Review. Instead, the website offers an extensive table of colleges and universities that offer visual tours to prospective students and their families. The list is arranged in alphabetical order according to state—from Alabama to Wisconsin in the United States—as well as selected universities in Canada. The links for each featured higher education institution is also provided and, thus, allows users to immediately immerse themselves in the virtual tours.

    But while virtual tours of college campuses have their merits, you should also remember that these aren’t a 100% substitute for on-campus visits. This is true even when your college-bound child has decided on an online program since an on-campus visit established a sense of belongingness, among other benefits. But a virtual tour is a recommended first step in your and your child’s college search.

  6. If your prospective student has been stressing over the college application process, you should start looking at Common Application. The Common App is the best college website for streamlining the college application process because it allows prospective students to submit their college applications to several colleges and universities with a single standardized application form. This means there’s no need for submitting separate applications to different college websites and, thus, less chances for submitting incomplete or inaccurate application forms.

    While the Common App is primarily intended for prospective college students, there are features that their parents will find useful, too.

    College Search

    Parents should ideally assist their children in searching for the best college or university using the college search feature on the Common App website.

    Financial Aid Information

    For parents, the cost of a college education is among their topmost concerns and the Common App has a feature that addresses it. There’s a section where prospective students enter their financial information that parents can assist with, particularly details about the family’s assets and income.

    Review and Editing of Application Form

    Did you know that the Common App allows for multiple revisions and drafts of application essays and other application documents before submission? You, the parent, can assist your college-bound child in these revisions as needed.

    There’s also a section on the Common App website that contains articles with tips on dealing with the complex college application process. There are tips on creating persuasive application essays, requesting for favorable letters of recommendation, and submitting documents on time.

    Application Tracking

    With multiple applications to different colleges and universities, it can be a challenge to manage them. The Common App has a feature that allows parents and their college-bound children to track their application status including the deadlines and required materials. You can also look at the history of applications submitted to colleges and their universities as well as their outcomes (i.e., application history).

    Parent Information Section

    Parents can also input useful information, such as their contact information, into the Common App for colleges and universities to use. For example, you can be contacted by a college or university to confirm your family background and other relevant details on your child’s college application form.

    Communication with High School Counselors and Other Concerned Individuals

    Prospective students and their parents can invite their high school teachers and counselors to submit their letters of recommendation, among other required documents, via the Common App. You, the parent, can help your college-bound child to coordinate the requests for these application documents and ensure on-time submission.

    Application Fee Waivers

    Among the costs of a college education is the application fee, and it can add up when your college-bound child is applying to several colleges and universities. The Common App, fortunately, offers relevant information about application fee waivers that can decrease the financial burden.

    Note that the Common App is primarily designed for students, but their parents should provide assistance and guidance in their completion and submission. The decision-making process should be a shared responsibility for families.

  7. The College Board, a nonprofit organization, is best-known for providing educational services and administering standardized tests that are essential in the college admissions process. The college admissions process can be overwhelming for incoming college freshmen and this is where parents can be of valuable assistance.

    College Search and Planning Tools

    Parents alongside their college-bound children can use the college search tools in the College Board website to find the best one for their needs. There’s plenty of information about the campus life, admission requirements, retention and graduation rates, and financial aid options, among others.

    The College Board also has a useful timeline tool that allows parents and their college-bound children to plan for their successful entry into college. The timeline helps to track from your child’s freshman to senior years in high school to help ensure that they stay on track for college admissions success.

    CSS Profile and Financial Aid Information

    Be sure to use the CSS Profile, a tool used by colleges and universities in determining the eligibility of prospective students for non-federal financial assistance. These include scholarships, grants, and loans offered by the institutions and third parties.

    There’s also information about college application fee waivers and actual waivers for SAT exam and college application fees for eligible students. The Student Search Service is also a must-look feature since it connects colleges with prospective students interested in their scholarship opportunities.

    Test Preparation Resources

    The College Board administers the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT as well as the Advanced Placement program. Parents can assist their college-bound children by providing guidance on successfully getting acceptable scores in both standardized tests and, thus, increasing their chances of getting into their preferred schools.

    There are both free and paid test preparation resources for all three standardized exams, too. You can also use the My College QuickStart tool for personalized score reports.

  8. Parents can sometimes be embarrassed about asking questions, particularly when faced with college admissions officers. Fortunately, there’s College Parent Central, a blog that lives up to the name. The blog is distinguished by its parent-centric content, and includes blog articles with helpful tips and information on a wide variety of topics.

    The College Parent Central is a college website for parents who believe that parents and children are partners in education, albeit their roles and responsibilities change over time. The emphasis is on being a supportive presence during a child’s college journey.

    Parents will find the relevant, reliable, and practical information contained in the articles, videos, and podcasts of College Parent Central to be an empowering tool in your shared college journey.

  9. Published by the American Council on Education, the Higher Education Today blog shares information about educational policy, research, and leadership. The American Council on Education (ACE), a nonprofit organization, represents and advocates for the interests of higher education institutions in the United States. The members are higher education leaders from more than 1,700 colleges and universities as well as organizations, associations and corporations in the higher education industry. Their mission includes public policy advocacy and research that promote higher education in the country and the rest of the world.

    The topics discussed in the blog may seem dry, but the fascinating insights into behind-the-scenes goings-on in higher education are useful to parents and professionals alike. The publication offers a wide range of how-to articles, insightful interviews and valuable essays with experts in higher education, and topics range from diversity and inclusion in higher education to higher education policy and reforms.

  10. The College Affordability and Transparency Center, a federal government initiative, manages the College Cost website where parents and their prospective students will find data and information about the cost of college education. Here, parents can explore and compare the cost of attendance in different colleges and universities as well as other key financial metrics.

    The net price calculator is among the most useful tools in the website because it provides parents and their college-bound children with a general idea of the net price of their college education. You can enter your family’s financial information and get an estimate of the net cost (i.e., after financial aid has been accounted for).

    There’s also student loan debt information for the featured schools, lists of schools with the lowest and highest net prices, and college savings plan information. Be sure to check out the financial aid resources and comparison tools, too.

Do you want to stay relevant and informed on all things higher education? Take a look at our lists of the best higher education podcasts and YouTube channels.

And for a customized college search experience, check out the Custom College Ranking, where you can create your own college rankings based on the factors that matter most to you including affordability, study body size, location, and more.

Get college survival tips, interesting articles, and much more at our Student Life Blog.

Or get tips on studying, student life, and much more with a look at our Student Resources.

Do you have a question about this topic? Ask it here