Editorial: CFPB cost comparison for colleges is both beneficial and smart
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 22:04
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has introduced a new online tool allowing comparisons of college costs and various other similar important statistics. With mounting college loans and student debt, this feature could not arrive at a better time for college students, high school applicants and the American public.
Users can access the website for free, where many useful features await. Plugging in up to three colleges at once, one can see “the estimated price of each college, the average amount of grants and scholarships students receive, the estimated debt burden and the estimated monthly student loan payments students can expect after graduation,” as described in a recent New York Times column.
Perhaps most useful of all, students can see personalized recalculated data following input of their own financial aid packages. Currently, over 7,500 institutions are entered into the system, including vocational schools and community colleges.
The agency was launched by President Obama and officially began operations in July 2011. The agency’s inception was initially questioned as a vehicle for potential government overreach. This new tool, however, is hardly an “overreach of government.” The online website does not track any personal data from users or require input of private financial information. Rather, its sole purpose is that of making sure the appropriate facts are available for anybody looking into the college application process.
Recently, total student loan debt in this country has exceeded $1 trillion for the first time, by some estimates a total exceeding even that of cumulative credit card debt. With financial aid, scholarships, Pell grants and loan interest rates at the forefront of almost every student’s (and parent’s) minds, this tool from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a welcome step forward in making sure every student is equipped with the best information before selecting the college at which they will spend the next four or more years.