Improving Award Letters and Consumer Information

Quick Resources:

 

The financial aid award notification process is a topic of great importance to the Obama Administration, Congress, and the U.S. Department of Education. 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 award letters.

NASFAA's Award Notification & Consumer Information is 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.
 

Consumer Testing of Financial Aid Award Letters

 Award Letter Report Cover
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's Award Letter Recommendations

Award Notification Report Cover
NASFAA's Award Notification and Consumer Information Task Force published a report to ensure greater transparency with award letters for students and parents.

The report accepted by NASFAA's Board of Directors provides specific elements award letters should incorporate; a glossary of standard award letter terminology; and additional consumer information that should accompany all award letters. 
 

Task Force Update

Douglas A. Levy, director of Financial Aid at Macomb Community College in Warren, MI and chair of NASFAA’s Award Notification & Consumer Information Task Force, provides updates on the work of the Task Force at NASFAA's 2013 National Conference.
 

 

 

 

Additional Information and Resources

Glossary of Terms for Award Notifications
The Glossary of Terms for Award Notifications was recommended in 2012 by NASFAA's Award Notification Taskforce. It contains universally accepted definitions of language typically contained on award notifications given to current and prospective students by colleges and universities.
No Clear Winner: Consumer Testing of Financial Aid Award Letters - Report PDF
This study tried to ascertain how consumers (students and parents) would understand the information on a model or standardized award letter notification. We tested three types of award letters: Letter A (ED’s Shopping Sheet), Letter B (Recommendations based on NASFAA Task Force), and Letter C (NASFAA Hybrid), which co...
No Clear Winner: Consumer Testing of Financial Aid Award Letters - Summary & Report
Recognizing that a plethora of untested consumer information is now available for prospective and current students and parents, NASFAA in 2012 contracted independent research firm JBL Associates, Inc. (JBLA) to consumer test the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Shopping Sheet and two NASFAA-designed alternative fin...
Q&A: CFPB, ED Issue Final Version of Financial Aid Shopping Sheet
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued the revised and final version of the financial aid Shopping Sheet as part of their efforts to make information about the cost of college and financial aid packages more transparent and comparable for students and parents. ...
Chart Comparing Award Letter Proposals
Recent scrutiny of award letters and consumer information sparked a host of proposals to improve this information for students and parents. This chart tracks recent proposals from the White House, Congress, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the U.S. Department of Education. Check out the Award Letter...
CFPB, ED Final Financial Aid Shopping Sheet
The final version of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and U.S. Department of Education's financial aid Shopping Sheet
Sen. Franken Introduces Bill to Standardize Award Letters
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the "Understanding the True Cost of College Act" to mandate higher education institutions use a standardized award letter, uniform financial aid terms, and provide information about student loan repayment and a host of other student aid-related disclosures. The bill directs the Secret...
CFPB Launches Beta Tool to Help Students Compare School Costs
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced the next phase of its "Know Before You Owe" student loan project by releasing a beta version of the "Financial Aid Comparison Shopper," an interactive, online tool designed to help students and families compare the costs of post-secondary education at various i...
Financial Aid Administrators Advocate Lawmakers to Resist Standardization of Award Letters
Financial aid administrators took to Capitol Hill to advocate against the standardization of award letters and for support of Federal Student Aid funding.
NASFAA Response to CFPB 'Shopping Sheet'
While NASFAA believes that improvements to award notifications are necessary and desirable, regulation of award letters could interfere with an institution’s ability to meet the specific needs of its unique student body, and could restrict innovation. However, a model for financial aid award notifications can be both ...
Debating Award Letters at the 2011 FSA Conference
Award letters have been a source of debate for over 20 years and this was the case at the 2011 Federal Student Aid (FSA) conference in December.  U.S. Department of Education officials held an award letter session to solicit feedback from the financial aid community as part of their effort to develop a model award let...
Charter: Task Force on Award Notification & Consumer Information
The Task Force on Award Notification Consumer Information is 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.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and ED to Develop Model Financial Aid Disclosure Form
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced on Oct. 26 that it is partnering with the U.S. Department of Education to launch a “Know Before You Owe” project to create a model financial aid disclosure form for students and parents.
NASFAA President Makes Recommendations to ED on Award Letters
NASFAA President Justin Draeger recommended to the Department of Education (ED) key elements and model formats to improve award letters for students and their families.
Creating an Effective Financial Aid Award Letter
Use this tool to evaluate your institution's financial aid award letter to create clear, concise, and complete award letters that adhere to best practices.
Award Letter Comparison Tool for Students and Parents
This tool helps students and parents compare financial aid award letters from different schools