December 3, 2023

Sens. Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have reintroduced three bills to help students and families make informed decisions about college loans.Senator Tina SmithSenator Tina Smith

The laws aim to ensure that students are informed and educated about finding and choosing a college, loans and financial aid.

The goal of the Net Price Calculator Improvement Act is to improve the efficiency and accessibility of net price calculators. The Understanding the True Cost of College Act would create a universal financial aid offer form and standardize the terms used in financial aid.

And the Know Before You Owe Federal Student Loan Act would strengthen current credit counseling requirements for institutions of higher education, require credit counseling annually and allow students to decide exactly how much they want to borrow.

“We need to equip students and their families with better information about the cost of college from the initial college search to receiving financial aid offers. My bipartisan bills with Senators Grassley and Ernst would help address these issues,” Smith said. “This includes improved net price calculators so students and families have estimates of the cost of college after scholarships and grants are taken into account. We have a plan to create a universal financial aid offer so that students can easily compare financial aid packages between schools, which is important because students continue to encounter inconsistent and incomplete information. And we introduced a bill to improve credit counseling. These reforms will help students make one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives – how to pay for college.”

Last year, the Government Accountability Office released a report that colleges mislead students, understate costs and omit key details about federal student aid.

“I often hear from Iowa families who are frustrated and confused by the complicated student loan borrowing process. So much of the student debt conversation focuses on debt repayment. We should fix the front-end process before students get in over their heads. The federal government should be offering common sense tools to better prepare borrowers,” Grassley said. “These bills would provide additional guidance, resources and clarity to the student loan process so America’s next generation of leaders can take advantage of higher education opportunities without going broke.”

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