As outstanding student loan debt has now reached $1 trillion, surpassing the debt consumers hold in credit cards and car loans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has just completed a Financial Aid Shopping Sheet to help students and parents better compare the costs of different colleges and understand their payment options.
Schools that accept tuition assistance and GI Bill money will be required to provide the shopping sheet to military students, and colleges representing more than 1 million students have pledged to use the form, the CFPB said in a statement.
In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday, Rohit Chopra, student loan ombudsman for the CFPB, said that while college is “still a good investment,” it doesn’t come without risk.
Student loans, Chopra said, are now “the largest form of unsecured household debt, and the CFPB will play an active role in contributing to a properly functioning student loan marketplace.”
Higher education, he said, “remains the surest path to a good career and job security,” as the unemployment rate for workers with college degrees is 4.1%, compared with 8.4% for those with just a high school diploma. For younger workers, he continued, the unemployment rate for those with college degrees is 8.9% compared with more than 13% for those with just a high school diploma.
But, he stressed, there is “another side to this story. Much attention has been paid to the growing ‘college wage premium’—the difference between wages for those with a college degree versus those without.”