A new federal tool released Wednesday aims to help student borrowers understand their loan burdens and keep them informed during school and once repayments hit.
The Financial Awareness Counseling Tool created by the Department of Education offers a set of tutorials to increase financial literacy, including a walk-through on the basics of student loans, tips for smart borrowing, and a rundown of repayment options. When signed in with a federal student loan pin, college and graduate student borrowers can access their outstanding loan balances and a breakdown of their individual burdens if they have taken multiple federal loans.
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"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," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement released by the Department of Education.
The tool is the newest in a variety of online resources offered by the Education Department. Borrowers can also toy with online loan repayment calculators, learn more about government programs including Income-Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and complete loan exit counseling before graduation.
[Consider other online tools to help repay student loans.]
Though most of the information in the Financial Awareness Counseling Tool is geared toward federal loan borrowing, there are also explanations of private loan characteristics and comparisons between federal and private options. To best use the tool, the website recommends having on hand your college financial aid award letter, up-to-date tuition and fees statistics, and your student account information.
Trying to fund your education? Get tips and more in the U.S. News Paying for College center.