Financial Aid Administrators to Examine Award Letter and Consumer Information Best Practices
New Task Force and Resource Center Will Help Students & Families Obtain the Information They Need to Make Good College Financing Decisions
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Haley Chitty
Director of Communications
Washington, DC, Dec. 5, 2011 - The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) today announced the creation of a special Task Force to examine best practices in award notification and consumer information. This group will solicit feedback from the nation’s financial aid administrators—the professionals most qualified to assess needs and desired outcomes when it comes to student aid information for families—as well as consumer groups, students, and federal regulators. The task force will compile pertinent information, assess ways to improve or standardize elements of an award notification, and ultimately make recommendations for improvement.
Consumer groups, student advocates, regulators, and lawmakers have expressed concern about the transparency, accuracy, and clarity of student financial aid award notifications. In response to these concerns that award letters are confusing and difficult for students and families to understand and compare, several national initiatives have arisen:
- In 2008, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to develop a model format for aid officers to use when informing students about their financial aid packages, and deliver recommendations back to Congress for possible legislation.
- In September 2011, ED held a public hearing to conduct a panel discussion and generate discussion among attendees regarding improvements to student financial aid offer forms.
- In October 2011, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that it too had launched an initiative to improve financial aid award information that is provided by schools to students.
“We embrace these national initiatives to improve information on how to pay for college. In this environment, it is critical that the nation’s financial aid administrators come together to develop, adopt and implement best practices that will lead the movement toward greater transparency and accountability,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “Students and families rely on us to guide them through this often-confusing process, and we take seriously our ethical responsibility to give them the very best information so they can make informed decisions about the institution they will attend and the amount of debt they will ultimately have to repay.”
In addition to the Task Force, NASFAA has launched a Web Resource Center on this topic. This one-stop shop will be regularly updated with information about the higher education community’s efforts to improve award letters and empower students with useful information about paying for college. Other useful resources on the web center include:
- A guide for financial aid offices to create award letters that meet the needs of students and families
- An award letter comparison tool for students and parents
- NASFAA’s detailed award letter recommendations submitted to the Department of Education
“As the professionals charged with counseling students about paying for college, financial aid administrators have a critical policy development role to play here,” said Douglas Levy, Task Force Chair and Director of Financial Aid at Michigan's Macomb Community College. “We are pleased to serve as thought-leaders in developing award letter best practices that give families the information they need to make good decisions and avoid unnecessary debt.”
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents nearly 20,000 financial aid professionals at 2,800 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. Each year, financial aid professionals help more than 16 million students receive funding for post secondary education. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit www.nasfaa.org.