As college admission decisions and financial aid award letters arrive, students and families may need a little assistance in comparing their financial options.
The federal government has been working on addressing this and introduced the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. This format was designed to standardize and simplify financial aid award letters. It includes key components important to students and families. It starts with total cost of attendance and then subtracts any/all scholarships and grants to give students/families their net costs/net price… what they will actually pay. It then shows options to pay net costs/net price, including self-help aid like loans and Work-Study.
To date, more than 2,000 colleges and universities have agreed to use this format. You can now download an adapted version of this Shopping Sheet as an Excel file and easily compare all your financial aid award offers.
It also provides an opportunity to rate each college based on your net price and the institution’s graduation rate. It does this using the independent CollegeValue® rating scale. In essence, it helps determine if you’re getting a good bang for your buck.