Web Smarts

http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cool/

WHAT: Thinking about where you want to go to college? This US Department of Education database gives you the scoop on more than 9,000 US schools, from two-year community and trade colleges to four-year universities.

BEST POINTS: The "COOL" site (short for College Opportunities On-Line) was set up to help parents and students assess different schools and compare their tuition costs. Instead of sifting through guide books, you can customize your search by region or state, as well as type of institution, degrees offered, and class size.

The site comes up with a list of schools that fit your criteria. Then, click on the college you want, and it gives you a quick snapshot of things like tuition and fees, average room-and-board costs, and fall enrollment numbers. You can also find out how much financial aid is available and the admissions office address and phone number.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: COOL, which is free, is part of the National Center for Education Statistics, which also provides a wealth of data on education. You can peruse surveys, thoughtful Q&As, and link to dozens of related Web sites.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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