Comparison shopping for the cost of a college education is about to get a whole lot easier.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is rolling out a shopping sheet that will assist in figuring out what college will be most affordable for you. (Note: This link is to a .pdf file.)

The shopping sheet mixes and matches the cost of tuition; books; room and board; any scholarship money you may be getting; and other factors to figure out the true net cost of a college education -- both before and after borrowing.

Let's face it: The era of colleges raising tuition willy-nilly at three times the rate of inflation is just about over. As you look forward, colleges will have to claw and scratch to get students.

I just saw a new report saying that most American families are no longer saving for retirement or for their kids' education. We've all gotten the drill that unlimited borrowing for college won't work. That's why we have this new era where comparison shopping for education will be more and more important.

This shopping sheet form, which is supposed to go into use starting next fall, is not mandatory for schools to use. So a school you might be considering may not have it. But if a college doesn't want to use it, what are they hiding?

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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