Make Smarter Decisions When Paying For School with New “Know Before You Owe” Tool

Last Wednesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched the next phase of its Know Before You Owe student loan project with the beta version of the Financial Aid Comparison Shopper, an interactive, online tool designed to help families plan for the costs of college.

With student loan debt crossing the $1 trillion barrier, the folks at the CFPB believe that students and families need to fully understand all the moving parts of borrowing money to pay for college before they wind up thousands of dollars in debt and without a plan for their financial future. The new online comparison tool helps students compare college costs so that they can find the one that works the best for their fiscal future.

The Financial Aid Comparison Shopper has been released to the world at the height of the college decision making process. As students sift through their acceptance letters, for a majority of them, it comes down to how they will actually pay for school; however, unfortunately, financial aid information is often filled with hard-to-understand industry terms and unique guidelines to the institution sending it. How can a family make an educated decision on college costs if it’s too complicated to understand the source material?

CFPB’s Know Before You Owe student loan project began in October by collaborating with the Department of Education on a draft Financial Aid Shopping Sheet that higher education institutions could use to present families with a uniform, easy-to-understand explanation of the total cost of post-secondary education and their options for financing it. The Financial Aid Comparison Shopper builds on that by helping students to compare the information across schools.

The beta version of the Financial Aid Comparison Shopper has more than 7,500 schools and institutions in its database, including vocational schools and community, state, and private colleges. It draws information from publicly available data provided by government statistical agencies. With the new tool, students and their families can compare the following across multiple financial aid offers:

  • Estimated monthly student loan payment after graduation;
  • Grant and scholarship offers;
  • School-specific metrics such as graduation, retention, and federal student loan default rates; and
  • Estimated debt level at graduation in relationship to the average starting salary

The Financial Aid Comparison Shopper also includes a “Military Benefit Calculator” that can estimate education benefits for servicemembers, veterans, and their families. The calculator includes military tuition assistance and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

And, of course, ease the cost of college with scholarships. Find your matches today at

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