Empowering Students to Make Smarter College Investments

Good news for students!

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently challenged colleges and universities across the country to provide more transparency about costs and student loan debt— asking that the following information be included in student Financial Aid packages, beginning with students who are applying for the 2013-14 school year:

  • How much one year of college will cost
  • Financial Aid options on how to pay this cost, including a clear differentiation between what is a grant and what is a loan that has to be paid back
  • Bottom-line, or net costs, after grants and scholarships are taken into account
  • Estimated monthly payments for federal student loan payments the student would likely owe after graduation
  • Student success data such as the percentage of students who stay in school, graduate and pay their student loans without defaulting

This is in addition to recent updates to the College Affordability and Transparency Center. (The Center allows students to generate lists of colleges with the highest and lowest net prices and tuition increases by type of institution during their college search.)

Equipping students and their families with more information about the real out-of-pocket costs of college and how to navigate the Financial Aid process will certainly help them make better financial choices about this major life decision.

However, providing more transparency by including the estimated total net cost upon graduation, total loan obligation including any private loans and a comparison of estimated loan payments to expected starting salary would be even better.

Already in college and wondering what your student loan payments are likely to be?  Try this calculator. Not sure how much you will owe?  Contact your institution’s Financial Aid office; for federal loans, you also can visit NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System for Students).

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