There are thousands of top-quality colleges and universities across the country. Finding the right college can be difficult. High school students may hire consultants to match them up with schools. However, teens can do their research and not need to hire professionals.

Sallie Mae, the nation’s leading saving-and-paying-for-college company, offers these tips to students and families as they begin the college selection process:

– Make a Target List. It is important to find the schools that are most suitable for you before applying to the right schools. It involves identifying your criteria and determining the most important things to you in terms of curriculum, location, size and campus life. Visit schools that match your interests and narrow your search.

Decide where to apply. After you have made a list of schools that you are interested in, you can now decide where to apply. Filing information by school will help you manage your search.

Keep a list of deadlines and keep it handy. Visit here for more information.

Learn How to Pay. A new tool, available at allows students and their families to create a custom plan to pay college. Families and students can compare the total educational costs of over 5,500 colleges, graduate schools, and create paying-for-college plans.

Sallie Mae encourages families and friends to follow its 1-2-3 approach for paying college costs. Complete the FAFSA form to receive need-based grants. You can also research scholarships and apply for them. It is possible to supplement your current income by saving for college and paying monthly tuition payments that are interest-free.

Second, look into federal loans. They are available to parents and students, and offer flexible repayment options and low interest rates. The third option is to fill any gaps in your education loan portfolio with private loans. They are simple and help students pay the full cost of college.