Higher Ed Groups Have a Plan to Improve Financial Aid Offers

"Nearly a year after the Government Accountability Office criticized colleges and universities’ financial aid offers, a group of higher education associations in Washington, D.C., is rolling out an initiative to make those offers easier for students to understand," Inside Higher Ed reports.

... "'We hope this is just the beginning of an effort that will really get higher education focused on transparently communicating the cost of attending their colleges and their financial aid offers,' said Justin Draeger, a task force member and president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, which will manage the initiative moving forward."

... "Draeger said the standards should mean that students will see a net price—what they’re expected to pay after grants and scholarships have been factored in—on every aid offer, and that participating institutions will now be calculating that figure in the same way. Ninety-one percent of the colleges studied in the GAO report understated or failed to include the amount a student would have to pay in their aid offers."

"The initiative could help ensure more institutions are following those best practices, Draeger said, in part because of the peer pressure involved with the public commitments. The initiative got the attention of the campus leaders needed to make system-level changes, he said."

"NASFAA convened its own task force in 2012 to examine aid offers and added minimum requirements for these forms to its code of conduct in 2014. And yet, the issue has persisted."

"'The GAO report identified several reasons why aid administrators indicated that their aid offers weren’t always in compliance,' Draeger said. 'One of those, for example, was that they didn’t have the resources to implement system changes to be in compliance. Well, resource allocations ultimately are made at the leadership level, and so this was one of the reasons why we really needed campus leaders to buy in to this.'"

... "Draeger said the task force’s work was not aimed at forestalling legislation. NASFAA has supported bills to require the use of standardized terms and elements but has resisted efforts to create one standard form."

"'Whether legislation comes on aid offers wasn’t really at the forefront of my mind,' he said, 'because legislation is not a fast process, and I also don’t see it as a panacea on college cost transparency. I would hope that legislators can maybe be informed by this effort. But I think we have to be realistic about how slowly legislation moves and how slowly legislation is implemented. In the meantime, I think it comes down to ‘Why wait? Let’s do something now.’'"

NASFAA's "Notable Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Articles included under the notable headlines section are not written by NASFAA, but rather by external sources. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 9/26/2023

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