What's the new student-consumer financial aid tool coming out?

I’m here at the University of Minnesota to hear about a new tool coming out by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency created by last year’s Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

From what I’ve heard from speaking to several folks is that it’s a “financial aid shopping sheet.” In other words, it’s a standardized financial-aid reporting system that will allow families to compare financial aid (both grants/scholarships and loans) from various colleges on an apples-to-apples basis.

So how does that differ from the Net Price Calculator. the federally mandated tool — due on every college Web site by the end of this month — that also compares financial aid?

The calculator is supposed to give students a preliminary rough estimate of what they’d pay in tuition, with any free money (grants, scholarships) factored in.

This is supposed to give folks a much more precise estimate of price with both grants and loans factored in.

Also, student leaders are supposed to urge the bureau to “stop unfair and abusive financial products that target students,” which include private student loans, credit cards and debit cards.

We’ll see what they all have to say in a bit, and whether my initial understanding is correct. I’ll try to post what I find, and you’ll be able to hear some news cuts on the radio later today.