Despite the obvious discomfort surrounding discussions about money, this summer provides a natural opportunity for students and their families to begin talking about the cost of college. Every student should understand the sacrifice that parents make to provide a college education for their children. In the US alone, student loan borrowers owe more than 1.5 trillion dollars in debt.

     It’s a good idea not to be one of the students who are strangled by debt after graduation. The responsibility of a gargantuan student loan is a terrible burden and many young adults move back home because they cannot afford the cost of living in their own apartment. This is not a happy prospect for either the student or her parents.

     In order to prevent poor decision-making, take a serious look at what college will cost; students and their parents can fill out the Net Price Calculator, which can be found at The Net Price Calculator determines the projected cost of various schools by combining information about the schools’ tuition cost with customizable information relating to grants, scholarships, and need-based aid.

     This tool can be a great way to turn the prospective cost of college into a family discussion, since it will be a key factor in the college selection process. Young adult life — no matter where or how one chooses to spend it — is all about learning to balance and manage one’s resources, so there’s no time like the present to begin examining the realities of college expenses.