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The Peter G. Peterson Foundation today launched Student Debt Smarter, an exciting new initiative to help ensure economic opportunity and equity for the next generation. StudentDebtSmarter.org provides a robust set of tools and resources to help prospective student borrowers make more informed decisions about their personal student debt, empowering them with practical information and personalized insights about the financial impacts of their higher education choices.
Student debt is one of the biggest challenges young people will face as they prepare to enter adulthood, and is often their first encounter with debt. Approximately 43 million Americans held a total of $1.6 trillion in outstanding loans at the end of 2020, with an average debt balance of $42,150. Approximately one-in-five undergraduate borrowers default on their college loans over a three-year period.
To help young people navigate the often confusing student loan process with greater clarity, Student Debt Smarter features an easy-to-use Affordability Calculator that lends transparency to the impact of student loans on a student’s financial future based on four simple inputs: the college they are considering; the year they plan to enroll; their desired field of study; and the location where they would like to live and work after graduation.
Users can compare options and results across a wide range of institutions and majors to gain greater perspective on the options that best meet their personal goals.
Student Debt Smarter is a collaborative partnership among the nonpartisan Peterson Foundation and a range of respected experts, including Sheila Bair, former chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, former college president, and leading national voice on student debt issues and college affordability, who serves as Senior Advisor to the initiative.
Additional initiative collaborators include the Institute for College Access & Success, Moody’s Analytics, the Bipartisan Policy Center, American Enterprise Institute, and Center for American Progress—all of whom provided independent, expert resources and data to help students navigate the complex process of applying for financial aid, scholarships, and grants; and nonpartisan resources for understanding America’s student debt crisis and economic landscape.
Ultimately, this initiative aims to help young people make more informed student debt decisions so that they can benefit from greater economic opportunity and enjoy both the short- and long-term benefits that can come from higher education.
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