Students are turning to the web to cut down on the time spent choosing colleges, as well as the costs of applying and attending.

Students are finding clever ways to take a bite out of the cost of going to college, with many getting help from the latest web-based technologies. Some are doing so before they even settle on a school.

After choosing the path to higher education, the biggest decisions for college-bound students and their parents are what campus to select—and how to pay for it.

Some students earn As for using the web to cut down on the time spent selecting colleges, as well as the costs of applying and attending—from travel expenses to book fees.

High school senior Karina Newman of Boca Raton, Fla., has turned to YourCampus360.com, which provides virtual tours and insider information, to research colleges she’s considering.

“There are so many options, and it’s pretty hard to choose,” Newman said. The website is a convenient and cheap way for the 17-year-old and her parents to learn more about different colleges. “You get an overall feeling of what it is like to be there,” she said. “You even see what the weather is like.”

Newman most recently traveled via the internet to Ohio University, Mississippi State, and Oregon Tech. They are among her top considerations in addition to Miami University, where an older sister graduated and another still attends. “I will be using the site to check out other colleges, too,” she said, without having to ask her parents for airplane tickets.

YourCampus360, with offices in Aventura, Fla., and New York City, is free to use and offers an interactive and comprehensive experience via iPhone or Android smart phones, a computer, or Facebook. Via all three platforms, prospective college students can take virtual walking tours, which include stops at dormitories, dining halls, and football stadiums. They also can check out videos and photos with 360-degree panoramas while learning about everything from class descriptions to campus clubs, on-campus housing to nighttime campus escort services. Site visitors even can apply to college online.

Jaclyn Sarnese, a junior at the University of Miami, plans to trim book costs with the help of a new location-based app called Yapik, which works like a Craigslist for college students, allowing them to trade or barter for goods and services. “It’s really convenient, and I can sell my current textbooks after the semester and even buy new ones for next semester,” Sarnese said.