ED Announces Minor Updates To The 2014-15 Financial Aid Shopping Sheet

By Erin Timmons, Communications Staff 

The Department of Education (ED) last Friday announced, in Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) GEN-13-26, that the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet has been revised in order to improve clarity for students and families. According to the Department, nearly 2,000 institutions have committed to providing the Shopping Sheet to their prospective students; however the use of the Shopping Sheet is voluntary, and colleges and universities are not required to substitute this for their own financial aid award letters.

Based on the feedback received over the last year, both from stakeholders and from emails received at the ShoppingSheet@ed.gov email address, ED has slightly altered some of the language on the Shopping Sheet and has added a glossary of the financial aid terms used. The data used to populate college outcomes, such as graduation rate, loan default rate, and median borrowing, have also been changed to reflect the most recent data collected over the past year.

The language changes include a revision to help clarify that grants and scholarships from a given school are both factored into the Shopping Sheet’s calculation to determine the out-of-pocket costs a family would likely pay. The changes also aim to make the Shopping Sheet more applicable to graduate students by changing “Parent PLUS Loan” to read “Parent or Graduate PLUS Loan” under the “Other options” box and to clarify that the Median Borrowing metric only includes students who borrow while attending the institution. 

All the components needed to complete institutional Shopping Sheets were released on Friday as an attachment to the DCL, as were the datasets and information needed to populate the institutional metrics section of the Shopping Sheet.

If your institution is interested in utilizing the Shopping Sheet for the 2014-15 academic year or you wish to provide you feedback, you can do so by emailing ED at ShoppingSheet@ed.gov. NASFAA urges all institutions to carefully review the Shopping Sheet and its requirements before agreeing to adopt it, in order to ensure it is the most effective format to deliver this critical consumer information to students. 


  • The institutional metric provided for the Total National Average FY2010 3-year CDR reads 13.6%. Should this not be 14.7%?

  • Hi Judith, the link has been updated. Thanks!

  • It's a great idea to give careful review to this before making a participation decision. The link to the DCL provided about brings you to the text version without access to the attachments/addenda. Can you update that link to provide full access to the DCL?

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