New financial aid website, social media tools help students, families


by Félix Pérez

In today’s increasingly competitive global economy, everyone agrees the surest ticket to advancement remains a higher education. But students and families looking to make informed decisions about financial aid to pay for college often find themselves at the mercy of a process that can be intimidating and, in some cases, costly.

To help students and families navigate the process and avoid common mistakes, the U.S. Department of Education, in response to a directive from President Barack Obama, last month unveiled a new website,, and social media tools.

Said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:

We want to give students and parents the information they need to make smart and affordable education choices. 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.

Some of the questions the website helps students answer are:

  • What types of financial aid can I get?
  • Do I qualify for aid?
  • How do I apply for aid?
  • And how do I manage my loans?

Included on the site is the Student Loan Debt Collection Assistant, an interactive tool designed to help borrowers who have fallen behind on their federal or private student loan payments. For borrowers who have missed payments but are not yet in default, this tool can help them avoid thousands of dollars in penalties and fees by helping them access an alternative payment plan. For borrowers already in default on their federal student loans, this tool offers an added benefit of offering clear information on how to access special repayment options available to federal student loan borrowers.

In addition, the Department revamped its federal student aid social media sites (Facebook,YouTube and Twitter) to provide more options for students to learn about student aid.

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