Ten private U.S. colleges and state university systems announced plans to be more upfront about the costs of higher education, including detailing the monthly loan payments students would face after graduation.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden unveiled the initiative with leaders from Syracuse University, Vassar College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and other institutions serving 1.4 million students, or about 5 percent of college enrollees.
Biden said that because 60 percent of jobs in the United States over the next decade will require a degree beyond high school, students and their families need a clear plan for how to pay for post-secondary education.
He told a White House event that the schools' voluntary plan to detail financing information was "a very important step."
"It's going to empower students and their families to be back in the driver's seat when they're choosing their college and help pay for that education," he said.
The White House has focused on college affordability as part of its outreach to young voters ahead of the November 6 election, and as Congress struggles to end a standoff over the interest rates on federal education loans, which are set to double to 6.8 percent on July 1.
Republicans in Congress say they want to keep the rates low so long as the costs are offset elsewhere in the federal budget. They have accused Democrats of playing up differences on the issue for political effect instead of working toward a solution.
But Biden said Republicans were the ones playing games with student loan rates instead of taking seriously the prospect of young peoples' budgets coming under pressure. "This should not be that hard," he said in his remarks to the White House forum.