Researching Social Fit: See the college’s clubs and organizations part of the site. You could also look through the discussion threads on www.collegeconfidential.com about this aspect of the school.
If you have not done so already, you should have an open and honest talk about the cost of education and what your family can afford. While many schools do have financial aid, it is limited for International Students. If aid is necessary, it would be a good idea to have a realistic plan and to aim for schools that are traditionally more generous for your kind of profile.
Research for Financial Aid: You can look on college financial aid sites, or check with your counselor for past experience. You can also find Financial Aid Calculators on all college sites that will help determine the ‘gap’ between the cost and what you can afford.
FINAL WORD: It is not easy to do thorough research on all of your schools. You will get frustrated sometimes, feeling that they all look the same. I see this as an advantage, as anything that is tough is an ‘entry barrier’ for others as well, and hence a clear differentiator for you to excel at. This is also one of those really big steps in the process of taking ownership of your own process and decisions. So, give it your best, and as a detective, go out and find some awesome unique and exciting things about the schools that you will eventually target!!