Education Department Launches New Online Debt Management Tool for Students

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) just released a new online interactive loan counseling tool to help students manage their debt and keep financial aid professionals in the loop.

The Financial Awareness Counseling Tool aims to provide students with basic financial management information, such as their current loan debt and estimates of debt levels when interest accrues after graduation.  College financial aid professionals can monitor a student’s progress in using the tool and provide assistance if necessary.

The tool provides students with five interactive tutorials on topics including managing a budget and avoiding default. Students can also access their individual loan history and receive personalized feedback. 

The new tool is part of the Obama Administration's initiative to promote financial literacy and consumer disclosure for students and families.  

In the coming weeks, the administration also plans to release its model financial aid shopping sheet, which it will encourage institutions to voluntarily adopt. NASFAA has advocated for a model financial aid award letter that gives institutions flexibility to meet the needs of their unique student bodies and does not impose additional requirements on schools.

ED reports that the model shopping sheet will include award aid, estimated student loan debt  and information about the difference between private loans and federal student loans as well as and the average student loan payment after graduation.

The Department has also published its annual college cost lists, which detail schools with the highest and lowest published sticker price, schools with the highest net price once grants and scholarships are factored in, and those schools where prices are rising the fastest.