Figuring out how to finance a college education is a notoriously confusing and frustrating process. It is not always clear to borrowers exactly how much a loan will cost once it is approved, how much of the debt should be repaid before graduation or how to effectively manage and repay the thousands of dollars owed after graduation.

Now it is the higher education finance industry's turn to be confused. Highly publicized initiatives to temper the preferred lender relationships between universities and loan providers resulted in passage of the House's Student Loan Sunshine Act in May. In late July, while the Senate proposed amendments to the Higher Education Act, U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) proposed creating a national clearinghouse of data on student loans, allowing potential borrowers to search for the best products in one place.

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