Flickr user Penn State

Flickr user Penn State

Visiting a college you’re interested in is an integral part of the college selection process. During a visit students get an in-depth look at a potential school, get a feel for the campus and atmosphere, and can ask questions to current students and faculty. They can even sit-in on classes!

But if you can’t afford the travel or visit fees? Should you just cross your fingers and hope for the best? Nope. There are a number of ways to circumvent the obstacle of money, and we’re here to show them to you!

Check with the School’s Financial Aid Office

Many schools offer aid to families in financial need, including some programs for college visits. These programs can pay for—or at least, partially pay for—travel fees, accommodations, and food. Get into contact with them to see what kind of help they can provide. By showing your interest in visiting the school, despite any financial hardships, will also earn you brownie points in their eyes for demonstrated interest.

Hunt for Student Discounts

Some airlines and hotels will offer special deals when it comes to traveling students. (This is true for many things other than the purposes of student visits—make sure you hunt down deals on computers or other gadgets). By searching online or making a few phone calls, you might be able to significantly reduce travel expenses and make the trip possible!


Are there a number of schools you’re interested in that happen to be clustered in one area? Save some money by visiting them all on one trip. Are there any friends of yours that are interested in similar schools? Buddy up and book a trip together. Are you really sure you’re seriously interested in that school? Do some research before you go to narrow down your college list and knock off a few trips. Plan out your trips in advance and put plenty of thought into it before committing to anything.

Look into Virtual Tours

Rising in popularity thanks to advancing technology, this feature offers an alternative to physically visiting the campus. Virtual tours can include picture slideshows or even videos of the campus and academic buildings. This free method can still give students a feel for the atmosphere of the school, all without costing them a dime. More and more schools are adopting virtual tours on their websites.

Attend a College Fair

While definitely not a college visit, attending a college fair will allow students to interact with faculty or representatives from the schools they are interested in. This will allow them to ask questions, learn more information, get some handouts or brochures, and “visit” a number of colleges in just one night.

So don’t despair if you can’t afford to go out and visit a college—there are a number of ways to reduce cost or eliminate it entirely. Hunt down these deals and make a more informed decision about which college you’d like to attend!

Of course, another tool that can help you learn about colleges is College Raptor! By using our free match tool, you can receive individualized college matches, personalized price estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid from schools around the country!