That staggering figure has prompted the U.S. Education Department  and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  (CFPB) to team up to help students and their parents better understand the true cost of college.
On Monday, Secretary Arne Duncan unveiled a standardized ‘Shopping Sheet’ which breaks down the total estimated annual costs (tuition, fees, housing, books and supplies, transportation, and other expenses) as well as what options are available for repaying any loans a student takes out.
The Shopping Sheet comes as campuses in the UNC system will be raising tuition and fees an average of 8.8 percent for the 2012-13 school year.
“Students should know before they owe,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “But unfortunately, we have heard from so many student-loan borrowers who say that they simply did not understand what they signed up for. The Financial Aid Shopping Sheet gives students real numbers and a clear format that makes sense of a huge financial undertaking that too often is complex and confusing.”
The Education Department is hoping the easy to understand worksheet is adopted by colleges and universities nationwide as part of their financial aid award packages starting in the 2013-14 school year.
To download a pdf copy of the Shopping Sheet, click here .