Student loan debt in the U.S. has surpassed $1 trillion and is increasing at an alarming rate of $2,853.88 per second. And with education costs on the rise, that number will continue to grow in the years to come. While we can’t change the price of a college degree, we can arm ourselves with knowledge to minimize cost. Before you and your family make a college decision, be sure to check out these five valuable tools from various government organizations.
Get familiar with the types of student loans
What are different types of aid available? What’s the difference between federal and private student loans? How can you apply for federal student loans? This YouTube channel from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) gives a quick and painless overview of the process, and answers many other questions that you might have.
Figure out your college’s net price
Net price is the amount that you’ll pay to attend in a single academic year after subtracting any scholarships or grants that you receive. Since you could receive different award amounts from institution to institution, it’s important to know the net prices for each of your educational contenders before making a final decision. Individual college websites usually provide net price calculators, but the Department of Education’s tool makes it easy to conduct research on multiple schools from one place.
Score your potential schools
The College Scorecard was designed by the U.S. Department of Education to help students and their families make decisions about college affordability and value. Simply enter the name of the school you’re considering and the tool will give you a comprehensive look at cost, graduation rate, loan default rate, median borrowing and post-graduation employment rate.
Learn about education-related tax benefits
There are a number of tax credits and deductions out there for students and families that are paying for college; the key is knowing ahead of time which ones you qualify for. Spend some time looking through the available options on this IRS fact sheet.
Stay tuned over the next several weeks as we share additional information and action plans for minimizing student debt.