Today, the Federal government unveiled the final version of the "Financial Aid Shopping Sheet” — an individualized standard financial aid letter that will help students understand their costs before making the final decision on where to enroll.
Too often, students and families face the daunting task of deciding where to enroll, whether to write a check, or whether to sign for a student loan, without a clear explanation of what the costs mean, or how these costs compare to other colleges they are considering. The shopping sheet will allow students to easily compare aid packages offered by different institutions.
While many financial aid award letters already provide this information some can be confusing, lacking clear distinctions between grants and loans, as well as information about post-graduate outcomes associated with the institution. These obscurities make the task of comparison-shopping for the most affordable and appropriate college even more difficult.
The Shopping Sheet makes clear the costs and responsibilities of student loans upfront –before students have enrolled– outlining their total estimated annual costs, institutional rates of completion and default, and information about a student’s potential monthly loan payments after graduation. Ultimately, this tool provides students and their families with useful information that can help them make a more informed decision about where to attend college and to help them better understand the debt burdens that they may face after graduation.
The U.S. Department of Education will publish an open letter to college and university presidents, asking them to adopt the Shopping Sheet as part of their financial aid awards starting in the 2013-14 school year.\