The CFPB is assisting the Department of Education with creating a “financial aid shopping sheet” that colleges could use to improve information for students and their families. The draft shopping sheet is posted on the CFPB website, where comments from students, families, and other stakeholders are sought. It includes estimated monthly payments after leaving school and helpful school-related information such as graduation rates. And, importantly, it allows students to compare an offer from one school to an offer from another school by standardizing the language and terms. This is one of the CFPB’s “Know Before You Owe” initiatives — a series of projects that the CFPB pioneered first in the all-too-confusing world of mortgages.
In these tough economic times, the stakes have never been higher for students and their families to clearly understand the costs and risks of student loans. Having a simple, one-page financial aid shopping sheet would help students compare offers and make the choice that’s right for them.
For those Americans who are already out of college and are struggling to pay back their student loans, the CFPB wants to make sure they too have useful information about their repayment options. So they recently released the Student Debt Repayment Assistant, an online tool for graduates and others struggling with student loan debt. It points borrowers in the right direction on how to tackle federal and private loan obligations and provides information on deferments, income-based repayment, and much more.
These are excellent first steps. Now we can only hope that the CFBP takes on the all-too-confusing world of Truth in Lending disclosures for private education loans.