New Online Tool Helps Students Manage Loan Debt

The Financial Awareness Counseling Tool pledges a ‘new transparency’

How much will your degree cost? Here’s one way to get a good idea. 

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new interactive loan counseling tool to provide students with financial management basics, like information about their current loan debt and estimates for student loan debt levels after graduation. 

Students can access the new resource, known as the Financial Awareness Counseling Tool here

“Managing student loan debt can be a difficult and confusing process for many borrowers. That's why the Obama Administration has been working to unravel the mystery of college financing and arm students and parents with the information they need to make smart educational choices," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

"Students need to know up front how much college will actually cost them instead of waiting to find out when the first student loan bill arrives. This new tool will help bring new transparency to the process of debt management on the front end and empower students to keep their school loan payments on track and on time after graduation.” 

Interactive tutorials 

The Financial Awareness Counseling Tool provides students with five interactive tutorials covering topics ranging from managing a budget to avoiding default. Students are able to access their individual loan history and receive personalized feedback that can help them better understand their financial obligations. 

In addition, college financial aid professionals can monitor a student’s progress in using the tool and provide assistance if necessary to help ensure they can utilize the information the site provides. 

The announcement is part of what the Obama administration says is an effort “to make college costs more transparent for education consumers.” Recently, the Education Department published its annual college cost lists, which detail schools with the highest and lowest published sticker price, schools with the highest net price once grants and scholarships are factored in, and those schools where prices are rising the fastest. 

In the coming weeks, the administration is set to release its model financial aid shopping sheet. The shopping sheet, which all institutions of higher education will be encouraged to adopt, will tell prospective students how much aid they will receive in grants and scholarships; how much they’ll need to borrow in student loans; the difference between private loans and federal student loans; and the average student loan payment after graduation.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.
Consumer Affairs

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