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Military Student Center

Know Before You Owe

The President's recent Executive Order to protect student veterans from predatory colleges and universities includes a requirement for schools to require "Know Before You Owe" documentation, even if the student veteran does not apply for federal student aid.

The program's Financial Aid Comparison Shopper has more than 7,500 schools and institutions in its database, including vocational schools and community, state, and private colleges. It draws information from publicly available data provided by government statistical agencies. With this site, students and their families can compare the following across multiple financial aid offers:

  • Estimated monthly student loan payment after graduation.
  • Grant and scholarship offers.
  • School-specific metrics such as graduation, retention, and federal student loan default rates.
  • Estimated debt level at graduation in relationship to the average starting salary

The Financial Aid Comparison Shopper also includes a "Military Benefit Calculator" that can estimate education benefits for Service members, veterans, and their families. The calculator includes military tuition assistance and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

The goal is to give students and their families an easy-to-understand view of how their decisions today impact their debt burden after graduation. Equally important, though, is that users can use the tool effectively to adjust the loan amounts, savings, scholarship offers, and more, in order to reflect their individual financial situations.

Other DOD Resources

  • The College Scorecard: a planning tool and resource to assist prospective students and their families as they evaluate options in selecting a school
  • The College Navigator: a consumer tool that provides school information to include tuition and fees, retention and graduation rates, use of financial aid, student loan default rates and features a cost calculator and school comparison tool. 
  • The Financial Aid Shopping Sheet: a model aid award letter designed to simplify the information that prospective students receive about costs and financial aid so they can easily compare institutions and make informed decisions about where to attend school. 
  • The 'Paying for College' webpage: can be used by prospective students to enter the names of up to three schools and receive detailed financial information on each one and to enter actual financial aid award information.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

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Phone: 540-857-6278
Fax: 540-857-6208

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