Last fall, the Obama administration launched an initiative to make it easier for students and families to compare financial aid offers from different colleges. The administration worked with the U.S. Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and solicited input from college presidents, consumer advocacy groups, and the public. The result is The Financial Aid Shopping Sheet, a standardized document that colleges can use for financial aid offers. The final version of the shopping sheet was released in July, and since then, over 300 colleges have become “early adopters”, volunteering to use the document in the 2013-2014 school year. Some will even start using it this year.
The shopping sheet is divided into several easy-to-read sections, including:
- estimated cost of attendance
- total grants and scholarships
- net price after grants/scholarships
- federal loans
- other contributions
- the college’s six-year graduation rate
- loan default rates
- median loan amount for students at the college
- loan repayment information
By providing the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet along with their own award letters (as is intended), colleges will enable students and families to more easily compare different financial aid offers, thus helping them make a more informed decision about where to attend. You can download a sample shopping sheet by visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website and clicking on the “finished product” link.