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Save for College with NJBEST

College may seem like a long way off, but before you know it, your child will be college-bound. Saving with NJBEST (New Jersey Better Educational Savings Trust), the state’s 529 college savings program, offers many benefits, including state and federal tax-free earnings. NJBEST also offers a scholarship of up to $3,000 for those students who qualify and who attend a school in New Jersey. To see how much you will need to save for your child’s education or to receive an informational investment package go to

College Cost Calculators

To plan better for college, your financial future, or loan repayment here are some calculators to assist you in making some sound decisions.

Prepare for College
Planning for college should start early. Saving for college can start at birth, but thereafter you and your parents should always keep an eye on certain key events, such as planning your high school course schedule, so that you are college ready. We've outlined some of the steps you’ll need to keep in mind to prepare you for college.
See our "Reach Higher" college preparation guide for high school students.

Before High School

  • Start saving for college if you haven't already.
  • Talk to key people, such as teachers, parents, friends or a mentor about what interests you and explore those interests.
  • No matter what you think you want to be when you finish school, work hard now so you’ll be prepared for the challenges that high school will present as you continue to prepare for college. If you are having difficulty, don't give up - get help from a teacher, tutor or mentor.
  • Become involved in school - or community-based extracurricular activities that enable you to explore your interests, meet new people and learn new things.

During High School

  • Continue to save for college.
  • Take challenging classes in core academic subjects: most colleges require four years of English, at least three years of history, three years of mathematics, and three years of science, and many require two years of a foreign language. Round out your course load with classes in computer science and the arts.
  • Stay involved in school or community-based extracurricular activities that interest you or enable you to explore career interests. Consider working or volunteering. Remember - it's quality, not quantity that counts.
  • Save copies of your report cards, awards, honors and best work for your academic portfolio.
  • Athletes, artists, scholars and others should start collecting items for their portfolios (such as game tapes, newspaper clippings, stats, awards, artwork, photographs, school papers, etc.).
  • During 10th grade, take the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Register early. See if you qualify for reduced or waived fees by talking to your guidance counselor. For more information on the PSAT/NMSQT, click here.
  • In the 11th and 12th grades begin taking the SAT/ACT exams. For more information on these exams, click here.
  • Meet with your counselor regularly to help select the colleges that will best suit your needs.
  • Visit colleges that interest you whenever possible.
  • Complete your college applications carefully and early. Pay close attention to deadlines and make sure to ask your counselors and teachers for any necessary documents (transcripts or letters of recommendation) early in the process to give them enough time to respond.
Apply to College

What is the best way to get the most out of your College experience?

The best way to get the most out of your college experience is to apply to the schools that best suit your interests and objectives. Most colleges prefer students to apply online through their website, but a few still offer a downloadable paper application.


Completing Your College Application

You will be required to complete an application for each school you want to attend. Most schools require online applications, and schools that permit paper applications often charge higher application fees for processing them. Be sure to find out which your school prefers ahead of time.


Here are some key things to remember about completing your college application:

  • Know your deadlines. Each school has their own deadline for admission, and certain programs have deadlines separate from general school admission. Make sure you know all of your deadlines far enough in advance to submit all of your information on time. A good way to ensure you have enough time is to gather this information 10-12 months before you plan on actually starting college.
  • Honesty is always the best policy. Never lie on an application. False information on applications can lead to rejection or expulsion.
  • Have your documents ready before you apply. Most schools require more than just an application and fee. Make sure you have copies of any test results, letters of recommendation, portfolios, and school transcripts ready to be sent to each school you apply to. Waiting until the last minute can crunch deadlines and affect admission if they are not received in time.
  • Practice makes perfect: Make several copies of the application so that you can practice filling it out in order to avoid potential mistakes.
  • If you choose to submit a paper application, be neat and use proper grammar. Do not scratch out or whiteout a mistake; start over on a new application instead. Keep food and drinks away from your application so that nothing spills on it.
  • If you know your essay question, answer it ahead of time. This way you can be sure to correct any grammar or spelling mistakes and to ensure you have a polished essay.
  • Prepare for possible interview or auditions. Depending on your desired major, an interview or audition may be required. The person conducting it can be an admissions officer, an alumnus, or even a student. This is often the college's first introduction to you; to make the best first impression, be sure to dress properly and let your personality shine. Answer questions honestly and politely, but do not be afraid to ask your own.


Early Admissions

You will find that some schools have early admission policies. Applying early is a good choice if you’re absolutely certain which school you’d like to attend. Be sure to fully research all aspects of any college or university before completing an early admission application! This is not something you want to do if you’re unsure about a school, or if you’re uninformed about the institution, since early admission can often restrict or prohibit you from applying to other schools. If you are uncertain, it is best to find out about the school in more detail before seeking early admission.


Getting Admitted

Admission requirements vary by schools, so be sure to review the school’s policy and talk with an admission's officer.

  • Four-year institutions will carefully review your application, and may require a personal interview.
  • County colleges, which are two-year schools, generally have open admissions policies. If you have a high school diploma or a general education development certificate (GED), you are typically guaranteed admission to the county college that serves your area. (You can also attend county colleges outside of your residential county but at a higher cost.)

Some programs have additional entrance requirements. Be sure to ask each school about its admissions policies.

Web Resources

Here are some additional resources that you can use to better prepare you for planning your career and financial future.

Money Management Career Planning

Banking Services and
Financial Investments
Debt Management Student Loans

Going to College in
New Jersey Magazine Click here for Going to College in New Jersey Magazine


Licensed New Jersey Credit Counseling Agencies


This type of agency provides a wide range of services, like free counseling, education and help in creating debt management plans. Please refer to the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance to locate a licensed credit counseling agency in New Jersey.

Veterans' Programs

Your military service has earned you education benefits that will help you pay for college. Education is essential for your career, both in uniform and out, and it is important to use your education benefits wisely and get the most bang for your benefits buck.


In addition to your GI Bill benefits, you may be eligible for state, federal, and private education programs, scholarships, and college funds that can help you reach your goals so make sure to also learn about those options under Resources.


For more information visit

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the foundational application for all federal and state aid. Most colleges and universities also use this form to allocate institutional scholarships and grants. The application is available in English and Spanish.


To apply for financial aid, you will need to complete the FAFSA. In order to do so, you will need to create your user ID and password. If you are a dependent student both you and your parent will need to create user IDs and passwords. You can also use the FAFSA4Caster to get an estimate of the amount of aid you may receive. Finally, even if you think you don’t qualify for federal student aid, complete the FAFSA. Many colleges award institutional aid based on information required on the FAFSA. Likewise, third party sources of financial aid may also require that you complete the FAFSA.

  • FAFSA on the Web (English)
    The easiest way to complete a FAFSA is electronically on the web. When filing an application electronically, as you answer key questions, other questions that you don’t need to answer are skipped over. This is called "skip logic". Completing the paper application does not provide that kind of assistance. Additionally, filing electronically allows your college to receive the results and provide your financial aid package to you much sooner.

    If you are ready to complete your FAFSA on the Web, click here.

  • FAFSA en el Web (Espanol)
    La forma más facil para completar el FAFSA es por  internet. Cuando se completa la aplicación electrónicamente usted solamente contesta preguntas claves para su aplicación. Las preguntas que usted no necesita completar son brincadas. Este proceso se llama “Skip Logic”. La aplicación en papel no tiene este tipo de asistencia. Adicionalmente, al completer la aplicación electrónicamente agiliza el tiempo para procesar sus resultados y le permite a su College o Universidad determinar su elegibilidad para ayuda mucho más rápido.

    Si estas listo para completar su FAFSA por el Web, click aquí.

  • FAFSA4Caster
    The FAFSA4caster assists students and families by providing an early estimate of your eligibility for federal student aid. You will also get a glimpse of what is necessary to complete the FAFSA on the Web and subsequently you can transfer the information you enter into the FAFSA 4caster to your FAFSA.

    To use the FAFSA4caster, visit

  • Check out the 8 Steps to Apply for Federal & State Aid to help you get started
Federal Direct Loans

Direct Stafford Loans offer subsidized and unsubsidized student loans and Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). Information on each one of these programs can be found under the Resources tab.


Although you can apply for a federal student loan on-line at, your college may require that you complete your application through another process.  You should contact your college’s financial aid office or visit the website for specific instructions.


Click to Read the Student Loan Guide


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