21 While there’s a great deal of college information available in print and online, making a college visit is still the best way to learn about a college! College applications should be completed in the fall of a student’s senior year. Virtually all colleges have applications for admissions and financial aid on their website. Most college applications have sections for the counselor to complete, and all applications require a high school transcript. Transcripts generally include a student’s courses, grades, credits, GPA, class rank, and test scores, beginning with the ninth grade. Students hoping to receive an athletic scholarship need to meet with their counselor to make sure they’re taking the right courses. Students who want to play a sport at a Division I or II college can find information on eligibility requirements at www.eligibilitycenter.org. Research four-year colleges carefully There are thousands of colleges and universities in the U.S. and they are all different. Students and parents should therefore learn as much as they can about the colleges they’re considering. College Board’s CollegeHandbook and Peterson’s Four Year Colleges are great resources. The following websites also provide excellent information: bigfuture.collegeboard.org www.educationplanner.org studentaid.ed.gov nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator College can be expensive Tuition and fees at an in-state public four-year college average about $9,700 a year. Students who attend a public college in a different state, however, must usually pay the more expensive out-of-state tuition. Tuition and fees at a private four-year college average around $33,500 a year. While tuition is the cost of instruction, room and board refer to the cost of housing and meals. The average yearly cost for room and board is $10,000 – $12,000. Books average about $1,300 a year.