A new website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education hopes to make it easier for students and their families to navigate the college financial aid process. StudentAid.gov was launched in response to a recent DOE report that showed that consumers were in the market for information that would aid them in making smart decisions about college financing.
With the amount of student debt growing rapidly, the new website provides a clearer picture to current and prospective students of their financial situation once they leave school. This echoes the call made by President Barack Obama during a speech on June 7th that students and their parents needed tools to help them get a grip on the obligations they’re taking on and to make it easier to set out dept repayment plans.
StudentAid.gov is the first step in a multi-phase project to provide consumers with a one-stop website where they can access federal student aid information, apply for federal aid, repay student loans and navigate the college decision-making process. The site combines content from several Department websites and presents the information in a straight-forward manner – and it is designed to be fully accessible on tablets and smartphones. In addition, the Department has revamped its Federal Student Aid social media sites, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, to provide more options for students to learn about student aid.
The website also provides assistance to students or college graduates who have fallen behind on their loan repayments and are looking for ways to catch up. The tool, called the Student Loan Debt Collection Assistant, was designed with the help from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The information provided could help those who are delinquent, but aren’t yet in default to avoid burdensome financial penalties by working out a custom alternative repayment plans. For those in default, the tool also guides the student to the many alternative repayment options available to federal student loan borrowers. Those in default to private lenders get tips on how to negotiate with the loan lender or servicer for better repayment terms.
“We want to give students and parents the information they need to make smart and affordable education choices. A big part of that is educating people on the most affordable way to finance a college education: federal student aid,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This new, easy-to-understand website will help families better navigate the process of planning and paying for college. And it will help students manage their loan payments after they graduate so they avoid falling into default.”