Last week I wrote two college blog posts that included examples of confusing financial aid letters. If you missed them, here they are:
I received a couple of notes from independent college counselors saying that they were going to use the awards that I highlighted as templates to evaluate their clients’ financial aid offers. Over the weekend, my brother-in-law Mike used the examples to evaluate my nephew’s award at a college in Missouri and he correctly determined that the school was proposing to meet 81% of his son’s need.
Wouldn’t it be so much nicer, however, if all financial aid award letters were standardized so people wouldn’t have to use some random blogger’s posts to figure out awards? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the award letter dispatched by George Washington University relied on the same format as Fordham, University of Portland, Columbia and every other school in the country?
Help Is On the Way
For families and counselors who are tired of deciphering financial-aid-offer hieroglyphics, change is coming. The U.S. Department of Education and the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have been working to develop a model financial aid award letter. This isn’t necessarily the final version, but here is what the feds have come up with so far:
Financial Aid Shopping Sheet
I love the government’s model financial aid award, which is being calling a financial aid shopping sheet. I particularly appreciate the information on what the future costs of borrowing would be. If you like the award letter — and it is light years better than what’s out there now — or have ideas on how it can be improved — send your comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The Bureau would also like you to rank the features that you think are most important parts of a financial aid offer. You can share your comments and rank the features by clicking here: Consumer Financial Aid Protection Bureau.
A federal standardized financial aid form could be rolled out as soon as 2013. It can come quick enough.
Lynn is the author of the second edition of The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price. The second edition contains about 90% new content including chapters on evaluating schools financially and academically.