As the rising debt of recent college graduates becomes a focus of families across the country, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is trying to clarify the cost of higher education.
Gillibrand announced today that she is supporting new uniformed financial aid forms released by the Department of Education. She says a greater understanding of costs will help families plan better for college.
"Getting a college education has always been part of the American Dream and when you have the benefit of a college ed, it allows you to earn more for your family," Gillibrand said.
The average student debt for New Yorkers is $26,000, according to College Insight, while student debt nationwide has topped $1 trillion dollars.
Gillibrand believes that the uniform paperwork will allow students to better compare the costs of each college side-by-side. This added uniformity, Gillibrand says, will give students the ability to enter the work force stronger after graduation.
"It really is important for long-term economic growth [and] unleash the potential of all Americans by giving them the education they need to be stronger, better, more effective entrepreneurs," Gillibrand said.
The senator also said trying to institute a cap on rising college costs would be difficult to implement.
The Understanding the True Cost of College Act would provide a unified form, allow easy cost comparison, and specify the nature of this long-term financial obligation.
The act would also provide a set of standardized definitions for financial aid terms, expected federal loan monthly repayment amounts, and disclosures related to private loans.
Currently, higher education institutions can use the form voluntarily and 10 universities have made the switch.
Gillibrand is urging that Senators move quickly on the act to make the form mandatory for all schools.