(The Hill) – Hundreds of colleges are joining together to commit to standardizing their financial aid offers in an effort to boost transparency and allow students and parents to better understand the cost of college.
The effort, led by the College Cost Transparency Initiative (CCT), brought together more than 360 higher education institutions to follow “principles and standards” about how financial aid offers are communicated.
The way financial aid offers are currently communicated has long been scrutinized as confusing and unclear to students and parents, making it difficult for families to compare offers between schools.
While not all financial aid letters will look exactly the same, the schools have agreed to use standardized, plain language in their letters and clearly break down the costs of attending the university and what type of financial aid is available to a student.
CCT, a task force comprised of ten higher education associations, received praise from both sides of the aisle for their Tuesday announcement.
“Students and families need transparency, consistency, and clarity when colleges and universities communicate their student financial aid offers so that they are able to make informed decisions about enrolling in and affording higher education,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said.
“Unfortunately, financial aid offers are often confusing and, in some cases, misleading,” he continued. “I welcome efforts like the College Cost Transparency Initiative’s Principles and Standards that provide clarity when communicating these offers.”
There has been talk about legislation to force higher education institutions to make their financial aid offerings more transparent for students.
“The College Cost Transparency Initiative is a big step in the right direction towards making sure that students and families have the best information during the college application process,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) — who chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee — said. “In Congress, the Education and the Workforce Committee is working to lower college costs and improve the information available to students and families with legislation like the Cost Transparency and Student Protection Act.”
“Getting the federal student loan program in check requires action from both lawmakers and postsecondary education institutions, and I’m glad to see we’re working together towards the same goal of greater transparency,” she added.