The challenge of financing a college education today is not getting any easier.

The number of college applicants is escalating even as tuition costs outpace inflation, student-aid sources continue to shrink and heightened degree requirements extend the time it takes to get a bachelor’s degree to beyond four years.

Paying for a college education may be getting more difficult, but money should never keep a student from higher education. There’s plenty available, so don’t let navigating through the maze of college financing overwhelm you.

In this Bankrate.com College Financing Guide, you’ll find a wealth of information on long-term savings plans and opportunities, student loans, scholarships and grants, working your way through school and how to best spend the college fund you’ve accumulated.