Feds launch new online tool to help students manage loan debt

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new interactive loan counseling tool to provide students with financial management basics, like information about their current loan debt and estimates for student loan debt levels after graduation. Students can access the new resource, known as the Financial Awareness Counseling Tool, on StudentLoans.gov.

“Managing student loan debt can be a difficult and confusing process for many borrowers. That’s why the Obama administration has been working to unravel the mystery of college financing and arm students and parents with the information they need to make smart educational choices,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “Students need to know up front how much college will actually cost them, instead of waiting to find out when the first student loan bill arrives. This new tool will help bring new transparency to the process of debt management on the front end and empower students to keep their school loan payments on track and on time after graduation.”

The Financial Awareness Counseling Tool provides students with five interactive tutorials covering topics ranging from managing a budget to avoiding default. Students can access their individual loan history and receive personalized feedback that can help them better understand their financial obligations. In addition, college financial aid professionals can monitor a student’s progress in using the tool and provide assistance if necessary.…Read More

Readers: Financial literacy is a school’s responsibility

"Someday very soon, these high school students will be adults in your community," said one reader.

In a time where budget cuts are the norm, student loan debt has reached an all-time high, and the economy shows slow improvement, a recent report reveals that few K-12 schools nationwide teach economics or financial literacy.

According to the Council for Economic Education report, titled “Survey of the States: Economic and Personal Finance Education in Our Nation’s Schools 2011,” fewer than half of states require high school students to take an economics class, and fewer states now require high schools to offer financial literacy classes than in 2009, even though another report concluded that two-thirds of college students don’t understand the terms of their loans.

Many financial experts say that by not teaching financial literacy or even basic economics to high schoolers, schools are not preparing them for adulthood—and our readers seem to agree.…Read More