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"A provision on standardizing award letters was included in the most recent renewal of the Higher Education Act, and the issue was debated widely in the months before that renewal, in 2008. The legislation called for the Education Department to create a model award letter but stopped short of requiring colleges to adhere to the model," Inside Higher Ed reports. "Two more recent proposals -- one from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and another from U.S. Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota -- exemplify the two approaches to standardizing financial aid award letters. The association’s proposal, put forward last week, calls for all award letters to provide certain information, including the estimated cost of attendance (including room and board, tuition, fees and living expenses), total loans available, and the net cost a student would pay after grants and scholarships are taken into account. It also calls for colleges to separate 'direct costs' -- tuition and fees and, in some cases, room and board -- from 'indirect costs,' like textbooks and travel and living expenses. The goal is to make sure all colleges are using the same terminology, while providing enough leeway to adjust the letters themselves for specific circumstances, said Justin Draeger, the association’s president. On May 23, Franken introduced a bill to require a universal financial aid award letter to be used by all colleges."
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