This month, Americans across the country will receive college acceptance letters. For many students, the excitement of being one step closer to realizing their dream or reaching a major life milestone is coupled with anxiety about how to pay for it all and the prospect of taking on student loan debt.
Last year, we created a tool that helps students and families compare financial aid offers and better understand their options when it comes to paying for college. We asked you to give us feedback to help us make it better. Since then, we’ve conducted focus groups with students and parents and reviewed input from school administrators, parents, and experts. We used what we heard, both in these sessions and online, to upgrade the tools in time for college decision season. Today, we’re launching the newest version of the tool, which allows you to compare financial aid packages and college costs.
This update allows more students to compare financial aid offers. Now you can compare offers from community college, bachelor’s, certificate, and graduate programs. We’ve incorporated a more user-friendly design and reintroduced the GI Bill Calculator, which gives servicemembers the ability to calculate the benefits available to them through the GI Bill and tuition assistance programs.
We also heard from you that you wished our tool would provide information that complemented what schools are providing to students in their financial aid packages. We’re currently piloting a way to do just that. More than 700 schools have adopted the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet (developed in partnership with the Department of Education) which they’ll send to prospective students this year.
Part of the shopping sheet is a simple data file that you can paste into our comparison tool. Just copy and paste one time, and you can compare information like average debt after graduation side by side.
We’re excited for your new adventure, and we know that choosing a college is a big deal.
Oh, and — congratulations!