We all know the price of a college education isn't getting any cheaper.
That's why shopping around for the best deal could be more important than ever. The U.S. Department of Education just released a new tool to help students compare the price of a college education.
The Obama administration is asking all colleges and universities to use a standardized form, dubbed a "shopping sheet".
It will spell out the price of tuition, housing, and books. The form will also show any scholarships and loans. Perhaps most importantly, the "shopping sheet" will include what the college will cost over four years and what kind of monthly loan payment is typical.
Students admit seeing the figures will be a big dose of reality.
"Looking at the final number does affect me, yes for the four years I'm here, but also 10 to 20 years after," said Concordia University student James Weiler.
Concordia University in St. Paul is already offering a similar financial aid award letter, spelling out the true cost of a college education. Award letters from different schools are not uniform, however and don't include the same information.
The Obama administration is pushing the standardized form to make it easier for students to compare prices. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wants colleges and universities to start using it by the 2013-2014 school year.
Jeanie Peck, Financial Aid Director at Concordia, said she believes it's a positive step.
"Because then there's no unfair advantage of a student going to a school because of being mislead verses going to a school by choice and being completely educated," she said.
For more information and to see the "shopping sheet" go to http://collegecost.ed.gov/shopping_sheet.pdf