Paying for College: Help us make it easier for you to choose

April is a time when students and their families anxiously await their college acceptance letters. But for families across the country, the good news of getting into college isn’t the end of the anxiety. Figuring out how to finance a college education can also be daunting.

We want to find a way to make it easier to compare different options when making decisions on student debt. There is a lot of data out there on schools and loans, and we thought we’d try to get the key information into one place to help students see how their choices today might impact their financial lives in the future.

Today, we’re asking for your input to develop a new interactive tool to help navigate financial aid offers and student loans.

We’ve already put together a prototype. In this beta version, you can enter the financial aid information you’ve received from colleges, adjust your family’s contributions, input scholarships and military benefits, and much more. Our beta version can give you a rough estimate of your monthly payment after graduation, as well as a sense of your overall debt burden in relationship to the average starting salary of a college graduate. You can also see school-specific indicators like graduation rates.

But we need your help. We need students and families to tell us what is helpful and what is confusing. For the experts out there, we need you to tell us how to think about some of the technical assumptions, like interest rates and salary data. The information you provide will help us determine where to make both big changes and little tweaks.

We’ll be sure to report on what we’ve heard back to you and to other agencies working to make the process easier and simpler. Use the Financial Aid Comparison Shopper and tell us what you think.

We also challenge the developer community to make their own apps and web tools to help students make more informed decisions. Our prototype relies on data that are available to all of us, and we welcome the competition!

The CFPB wants to make sure that the student loan market works well for all students and their families. That’s why we worked closely with the Department of Education on our Know Before You Owe student loans project, launched a student loan complaint system, and created the Student Debt Repayment Assistant for borrowers navigating their repayment options.

With your help, we can make financial aid season a little less stressful when it comes to student loans.

Due to technical issues, the commenting feature of our blog is temporarily unavailable. We’re working to bring this functionality back, and look forward to hearing your feedback and comments about the CFPB’s work soon.