“Know Before You Owe”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has developed a one page guide called a “shopping sheet” to help parents and students make informed decisions about the cost of a year in college.  This guide takes data from multiple sources and offers an easy to read overview of the schools on the list for consideration.  The guide goes beyond the typical cost of attendance budget for each school.  It also looks at the loan and work study options being offered, how much you will owe after graduation and gives an estimate of the monthly payment for all loans upon graduation. As important as it is to know the cost of attendance, this guide also lets you look at how your prospective school’s cost compare with other education sectors.  It looks at the default rate on student loans for students attending the school, which is often seen as an indicator of the quality of the school programs.  Other additions to the guide are the graduation rates and the retention rates of the school under consideration. While this guide is the first version to be circulated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it is a positive step forward in understanding both the cost and outcomes that students and parents must consider when selecting a college. I do regret that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chose to call this guide a “Shopping Sheet.” I think that title sells it short.   I view selecting a college as making an investment.  While there is a cost associated with making all investments, we do it because we are expecting a future benefit and a rate of return.  I hope future versions of this guide will take that into consideration, as well.  Check it out for yourself. Finalized “Shopping Sheet” Additional info from the CFPB