Make us your home page
Instagram

When choosing colleges, calculate the money factor

This spring, millions of high school seniors are contemplating their college choices for next fall. Near the beach? Closer to big-city life at campuses in Seattle, San Francisco or NYC? Tucked into a smaller, more intimate college setting?

In addition to where, another equally critical calculation in deciding which college to attend is how much. With college costs at budget-breaking levels, there has been a push to make the college-cost comparisons easier for families.

For too many families, the how-to-pay-for-college equation has been "complex and confusing," said Rohit Chopra, student loan ombudsman for the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Under its Know Before You Owe project, the CFPB wants to arm students and parents "with clear information and a clear set of facts" before they take out costly student loans. To strip away the confusion, the CFPB's first effort in 2012 was the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet, which is a streamlined, easy-to-read template that colleges can use to send out financial aid information to their prospective students. It includes details on the school's graduation rates, loan defaults and other data.

On its website, the CFPB's Paying for College section lets students plug in numbers from schools, three at a time, to make comparisons of first-year college costs. It also shows your potential student loan debt at graduation.

"Even if they haven't received their financial aid offer from their school, they can use it to make estimates," said Chopra. For example, if a student decides to live in cheaper, off-campus housing, that choice can affect how much they might need to borrow.

The motivation behind such tools is trying to ensure that college students don't blithely rack up tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, which can drag down their post-college financial life and even have an impact on their future career choices.

.college costs

Where to compare

Know Before You Owe: Part of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the project helps consumers understand the benefits and potential pitfalls of student loans. On its Paying for College page, do side-by-side comparisons of your college costs among different schools. consumerfinance.gov/paying-for-college/

BigFuture: Sponsored by the nonprofit College Board, it offers easy-to-use explainers on paying for college, financial aid, scholarship searches and other tips. bigfuture.collegeboard.org

CollegeRealityCheck: Sponsored by the Chronicle of Higher Education with funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this is a simple, clear site that offers easy-to-use comparison tools to look at graduation rates, loan repayments and other realities of college costs. collegerealitycheck.com

Transparency and Affordabilty: Sponsored by the federal Department of Education, it has links to "net price" calculators, schools with highest/lowest tuition rates and other tools. collegecost.ed.gov

When choosing colleges, calculate the money factor 05/09/14 [Last modified: Sunday, May 11, 2014 7:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Carrollwood fitness center employs scientific protocol to help clients

    Business

    In 2005, Al Roach and Virginia Phillips, husband and wife, opened 20 Minutes to Fitness in Lakewood Ranch, and last month they opened the doors to their new location in Carrollwood.

    Preston Fisher, a personal fitness coach at 20 Minutes To Fitness, stands with an iPad while general manager/owner Angela Begin conducts an equipment demonstration. The iPad is used to track each client's information and progress. I also included one shot of just the equipment. The center recently opened in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  2. Olive Tree branches out to Wesley Chapel

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL — When it came time to open a second location of The Olive Tree, owners John and Donna Woelfel, decided that Wesley Chapel was the perfect place.

    The Olive Tree expands its offerings of "ultra premium?€ extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) to a second location in Wesley Chapel. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. New York town approves Legoland proposal

    News

    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  5. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate

    By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]