The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently launched the latest phase of its Know Before You Owe student loan project, releasing a beta version of the Financial Aid Comparison Shopper. This new tool from the CFPB provides students an interactive, online tool designed to help them plan for the costs of higher education.

At the launch of this new student debt tool, CFPB Chief Richard Cordray said “Student loan debt has crossed the $1 trillion mark and tuition continues to climb. Now more than ever, students and their families need to know before they owe. Our Financial Aid Comparison Shopper helps students make apples to apples comparisons of their offers and pick the one that works best for their financial future.”

The goal of the new tool is to give students and their families an easy-to-understand analysis of how their decisions today will impact their debt burden after graduation. As nearly1.5 million students sift through letters of acceptance they can already start planning on how to pay for the college offer they choose.

The current beta version helps students make side-by-side cost comparisons, tailored to their unique financial circumstances. Students using the CFPB tool can easily adjust the loan amounts, savings, scholarship offers, and more, in order to reflect their individual financial situations.

The beta version of the Financial Aid Comparison Shopper has more than 7,500 schools and institutions in its database, including vocational schools and community, state, and private colleges. With the prototype, students and their families can compare the following across multiple financial aid offers:

  • Estimated monthly student loan payment after graduation;
  • Grant and scholarship offers;
  • School-specific metrics such as graduation, retention, and federal student loan default rates; and
  • Estimated debt level at graduation in relationship to the average starting salary.

While the CFPB prototype can’t determine actual debt burden when leaving school, the CFPB hopes it will point students in the right direction. So let’s start comparing apples and planning our financial and educational futures!