After getting into college, students receive financial aid packages--known as award letters--to help make their decisions about where to attend and what they can afford. But these letters often confuse rather than clarify costs and available aid. Why is this the case?
No federal policy exists that requires standardized terminology, formatting, or even the inclusion of critical information like total cost and loan amounts on award letters. Without uniform guidelines, like the federally mandated nutrition labels and car sales window stickers, families are left to make a major financial decision without an apples-to-apples comparison. The lack of requirements leaves thousands of institutions communicating billions of dollars of federally-funded aid in hundreds of different ways.
In 2018 the New America Education Policy Program partnered with uAspire, a nonprofit leader on college affordability, on a report that analyzes data from thousands of financial aid award letters, presents seven policy recommendations, and calls on federal, state, and institutional parties to create a systems-level change.
Join New America NYC, New America's Education Policy Program, and uAspire for a presentation of the report’s findings followed by a conversation with regional experts about why communicating college cost falls short and what steps should be taken to provide more transparency to students and their families.
Rachel Fishman @higheredrachel
Deputy Director for Higher Education Research, New America
Laura Keane @lmkeane
Chief Policy Officer, uAspire
Flosha “Flow” Tejada
Director of College Completion, Uncommon Collegiate Charter High School
Director of Knowledge, uAspire
Kim Clark @kclarkcollege
Assistant Director, Education Writers Association
Zayne Abdessalam @ZAbdessalam
Director of Policy and Research, Office of Financial Empowerment at NYC Department of Consumer Affairs
Associate Director of Financial Aid, Dartmouth College