For many college students, getting accepted to a good school is just the first of many obstacles to higher education. With the tumultuous economy, increasing numbers of families are wondering how they will pay for a child’s education. While financial aid is available for many, the award letters from schools can be so difficult to understand that many students and their families are left not knowing exactly what is available and how much money the family will have to provide to cover the cost of education. Luckily, it seems that some government officials are finally noticing this problem and taking action to make the financial aid process more family friendly. One such legislator, Congressman Joe Coutney, has introduced legislation to provide students and their families with an easier to understand picture of the true costs of college.
About the Understanding the True Cost of College Act
This act already has 11 cosponsors and will ensure that students and families receive a standard format financial aid award letter that uses simple terms and easy to understand language. This will make it easier for recipients and families to understand how much help is provided and how much will have to be paid by the family. The Congressman and other sponsors of the legislation hope that this simpler format will help families to make better, more informed decisions regarding college choice and financing options.
This legislation closely mirrors bill S. 3244, which was introduced into the Senate by Senator Al Franken earlier this year. This bipartisan bill will make it a requirement for all colleges and universities to use a uniform award letter for financial aid as well as to include information on standard disclosures and terms that are relevant to the families. As part of the standard format requirement, award letters would be required to include the amount of financial aid that will not have to be repaid, the actual cost of attendance, and the net cost of attendance after financial aid is subtracted. In addition, letters would be required to detail student loan information, including disclosures regarding private loans as well as cohort default rates of the particular school.
If these pieces of legislature pass, financial aid and college costs will be much easier for students and their families to understand and to prepare for. If you would like to see the financial aid process simplified, contact your representatives to voice your approval of these bills and to make sure your voice is heard.