Cap and Gown - AffordabilitySay hello to a treasure trove of college affordability data.

The Urban Institute recently launched the Understanding College Affordability project. Its premise? Affordability means much more than tuition, room and board. The site dives deep.

It dissects a broad set of student expenses, including lost earnings from time spent on school. It looks at how students cover expenses. And, it breaks down the financial impacts after graduation. (ICYMI: we looked at this, too.)

It even helps you calculate the break-even point for a student’s degree investment.

Ultimately, the project provides fresh perspective on the value of college.

“By presenting the big picture, trends over time, and the option to look more closely at the details, this website should support a more coherent and nuanced conversation about students’ financial access to a college education worth its cost.”

This information comes at the perfect time. More than ever, students need help navigating the financial realities of higher education.

More than ever, the schools, governments and industries serving students need a clear picture of those financial realities.

This tool is a great step in the right direction.