Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

CFPB StudentsThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers students unique services. Rather than handing you money, they’re handing out valuable information, and it’s all free of charge. Whether you’re in the market for a student loan or not, they’re abreast on current issues surrounding the financials of college and can help you stay in line on your path toward an affordable degree.

Degrees and Dollars

The average price tag for the 2011-2012 academic year at an American four-year college or university was around $23,066, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The numbers add up quickly when you’re busy studying and planning for your future career. Likewise, as you focus on the here and now, it is all too easy to loose track of what you owe when you’re not required to pay on any of the money you borrowed until you’ve completed your degree or dropped below half-time enrollment.

Among students enrolled at four-year institutions during the 2011-2012 academic year, student loans were used by 83 percent attending private for-profit schools, 63 percent at private non-profit schools, and 53 percent at public schools, per the NCES. That’s a big chunk of the 10.3 million who were enrolled in a four-year school in 2012, NBC News reports.

Funding Options

All things financial aid-related, including covering expenses outside of tuition charges and specific types of aid like student loans, are a specialty for CFPB. They can help you in choosing which loan offer is best suited for both your current and long-term needs. After all, it is quite wise to consider what your financial situation may be down the road prior to promising to make payments on your loan that you may not be able to afford. With the tools they’ve developed on their website, you can pick between federal and private loans, the former generally being the smartest first choice.

Federal loans offer lower interest rates and do not require a credit check. Whereas, private loans do require good credit and base your interest rate off such. During the 2012-2013 school year, $8.8 billion of the $110.3 billion borrowed in education loans were in the form of private loans, according to College Board. Private lenders may also require a cosigner for younger applicants — which most college students are — who don’t have a credit history to begin with. Some federal loans are subsidized, too, meaning the government will pay the interest on them for you while you’re enrolled in school — a huge plus factor. That being said, private loans suit those who need to borrow more than federal loans will lend, but it’s still wise to use both in conjunction in most cases.

Helpful Tools

One of the most popular features CFPB offers is a comparison tool that allows you to input college selections of your choice and compare them. You can enter the amount it will cost you to attend each school, broken down between:

You’ll also input how much money you have to contribute to such personally, along with federal and private loans, and money from grants and scholarships. CFPB’s calculator then computes all the details for you, from what your freshman year will cost you to your debt profile upon graduation, including estimated monthly payments. CNN Money notes the average amount of debt among graduating students in 2012 was $29,400.

CFPB also offers guidance in choosing an institution with which student can set up bank accounts, detailing everything from direct deposit of financial aid to hidden fees you might not otherwise catch on to.


Types of Student Loans

The Scholarship Center