Improving Financial Aid Offers

In recent years, policymakers have taken a closer look at financial aid offers. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) also values the importance of clear, concise, accurate information for students and parents, and recognizes there are ways to improve aid offers.

Over the past few years, NASFAA has continued work to improve aid offers, including a member-led task force, consumer testing, and updates to NASFAA's Code of Conduct.

NASFAA Financial Aid Offers Resources

Findings from NASFAA's Research on the College Financing Plan
June 2019 - In January 2019, the Department of Education (ED) released the newly updated College Financing Plan (CFP) (formerly the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet). To inform our comments to ED, NASFAA conducted consumer testing by an outside consulting firm, ASA Research, LLC and conducted a membership survey, finding that what students and parents want is sometimes at odds with what policymakers require and what schools provide.

Glossary of Terms for Financial Aid Offers
May 2019 - The Glossary of Terms for Financial Aid Offers was created in 2012 by NASFAA's Award Notification Task Force, and updated in 2019. It contains universally accepted definitions of language typically contained on award notifications given to current and prospective students by colleges and universities.

Issue Brief: Award Notifications
September 2018 - Financial aid award notifications are the primary tool colleges & universities use to communicate eligibility for federal, state, & institutional financial aid programs to their prospective & current students.

Financial Aid Offer Examples
September 2018 - These financial aid offer examples are intended to serve as samples for institutions about how they could implement the elements included in NASFAA's Code of Conduct into their financial aid offers.

Video: Award Notifications
September 2018 - Award notifications have come under scrutiny for a lack of clarity and for causing students to misunderstand the financial aid packages they are being offered.

Award Letter Comparison Tool for Students and Parents
February 2018 - This tool helps students and parents compare financial aid award letters from different schools.

Market Research on Law School Student Aid Award Letters and Shopping Sheet Information
September 2016 - In their second report,  NASFAA's Consumer Information and Law Student Indebtedness (CILSI) Task Force set out to identify through consumer testing what information on the financial aid award letter and ED's Shopping Sheet could be modified to create a document that better assists students applying to, or currently attending, law school.

No Clear Winner: Consumer Testing of Financial Aid Award Letters - Summary & Report
February 2013 - This study tried to ascertain how consumers (students and parents) would understand the information on a model or standardized award letter notification. Three types of award letters were tested, and no clear winner was found among the three.

NASFAA Award Notification and Consumer Information Task Force Report
May 2012 - The Award Notification & Consumer Information Task Force was charged with examining best practices in award notification and consumer information and reporting back to the NASFAA Board of Directors with recommendations on how to improve or standardize elements of an award notification. 

Publication Date: 9/17/2019

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Glossary of Terms for Financial Aid Offers


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