Photo: Flickr / mhonpoo
In a fascinating report in the New York Times, Andrew Martin and Andrew Lehren argue that misleading marketing and admissions letters are at the heart of America’s college loan debt problem. Assuring bright-eyed students and parents their return on investment will outweigh the cost, “professional companies and talented alumni are being enlisted to devise catchy slogans, build enticing Web sites —and essentially outpitch the competition,” write the authors.
Meanwhile, admissions letters make it hard to discern what students are expected to pay. Several graduates interviewed by the authors said their alma maters made the debt sound “doable and normal” when it was anything but.
Colleges don’t make it easy to determine the cost of tuition and fees either. Calculators are notoriously hard to find on Web sites, while admissions offices don’t have enough resources to help all the students requesting aid.
There is a way to get around the problem, however. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new College Cost Comparison tool lets prospective students get a breakdown of tuition and fees for up to three in- and out-of-state schools. There are also ways to tailor the results with savings, scholarship awards and loans.