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Wonder how much debt a college puts its students in? This tool makes the investigation a breeze.

ProPublica made it easier for students to dig deep into their school's student loan problem.

Wonder how much debt a college puts its students in? This tool makes the investigation a breeze.

If you're like me, you're drowning in student loan debt.

GIF via "Bridesmaids."


One of the worst things about debt is that it can make us feel like we're all alone.

When that repayment bill comes every month. GIF via Televisa.

Well, all alone with a mound of envelopes from Sallie Mae.

But we're not alone. Student debt is a problem for so many of us. A $1.2 trillion problem to be exact.

It's tripled over the past decade to hit that number, and more than 1 in 4 former students in the United States are struggling to make their payments.

Now, thanks to an awesome new tool from ProPublica, you can see how your debt stacks up.

C'mon. You know you wanna. GIF from "Mr. Bean."

In September, the U.S. government released a huge amount of data on federal debt at American colleges and universities. To make it a little easier to navigate, ProPublica made an interactive database that you can search through to satisfy your morbid curiosity:

See how far into debt other folks are who went to the same school as you! Check out what the average debt for students is at other colleges! (Hey, it might make that rejection letter from your dream school not seem that bad after all.)

OK, but beyond morbid curiosity, this tool can be incredibly helpful:

If you're a prospective student looking at colleges, you can now research which schools are more likely to leave you in debt.

The tool also comes with an easy-to-follow guide to help you live your dreams of being a student-debt Sherlock. It helps you read between the lines to figure out how many low-income students attend schools and how much debt they leave with. You can also check if graduates are making more money than the average high school graduate in the area.

All from your computer! Photo by Christian Reimer/Flickr.

Yeah, this tool won't solve the crisis.

But investigating student debt at institutions is helping us get a clearer picture of how they are (or aren't) setting students up for a successful future.

Already, the data has been used to find that some schools with huge endowments and that Catholic universities are leaving their poorest students with the most debt.

The data from the government doesn't paint the whole picture because private debt is a huge problem, too. But this tool is making it possible to see some important trends that weren't easily recognizable before. And that's awesome.

Because knowledge is power. Whether it's earning that degree or, you know, figuring out how much money you'd spend getting that degree.

True

Davina Agudelo was born in Miami, Florida, but she grew up in Medellín, Colombia.

"I am so grateful for my upbringing in Colombia, surrounded by mountains and mango trees, and for my Colombian family," Agudelo says. "Colombia is the place where I learned what's truly essential in life." It's also where she found her passion for the arts.

While she was growing up, Colombia was going through a violent drug war, and Agudelo turned to literature, theater, singing, and creative writing as a refuge. "Journaling became a sacred practice, where I could leave on the page my dreams & longings as well as my joy and sadness," she says. "During those years, poetry came to me naturally. My grandfather was a poet and though I never met him, maybe there is a little bit of his love for poetry within me."

In 1998, when she left her home and everyone she loved and moved to California, the arts continued to be her solace and comfort. She got her bachelor's degree in theater arts before getting certified in journalism at UCLA. It was there she realized the need to create a media platform that highlighted the positive contributions of LatinX in the US.

"I know the power that storytelling and writing our own stories have and how creative writing can aid us in our own transformation."

In 2012, she started Alegría Magazine and it was a great success. Later, she refurbished a van into a mobile bookstore to celebrate Latin American and LatinX indie authors and poets, while also encouraging children's reading and writing in low-income communities across Southern California.

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This article originally appeared on 09.22.17


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