This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched a beta version of the Financial Aid Comparison Shopper, an online service designed to help prospective and current college students make financial plans for their post-secondary schooling.
The new service allows users to access financial aid information as it pertains to more than 7,500 colleges and universities across the United States. Using data collected by official government statistical agencies, the Financial Aid Comparison Shopper evaluates a wide range of financial information, from estimated student loan payment totals to college-specific data such as graduation and retention rates, as well as federal student loan default percentages. Additionally, the new service includes a “Military Benefit Calculator” that allows service members and veterans to estimate military tuition assistance and GI Bill aid.
Last fall, the CFPB launched the “Know Before You Owe” student loan project, unveiling a Financial Aid Shopping Sheet draft that served as a precursor to the Financial Aid Comparison Shopper service. Earlier this year, the organization also launched a service for students with complaints pertaining to private school loans.
According to the CFPB, outstanding student loan debt has eclipsed credit card debt totals in the United States, becoming the second leading source of household debt in the country outside of mortgages.
"Student loan debt has crossed the $1 trillion mark and tuition continues to climb," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a recent press release.
"Now more than ever, students and their families need to know before they owe,” Cordray continued. “Our Financial Aid Comparison Shopper helps students make apples to apples comparisons of their offers and pick the one that works best for their financial future."