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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.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

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Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

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Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."