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After a months-long collaboration with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Department of Education has released a new, standardized format for financial aid award letters. ED encourages-but does not require-colleges and universities to implement the format for the 2013-14 year.

The Financial Aid Shopping Sheet is intended to provide students and their families with a simplified, easy-to-understand summary of the cost of attendance and aid available, along with several measures of institutional performance. The standardized format aims to make it easier for students to compare costs and aid offers from different institutions and understand the difference between grants and loans.

Developed as part of the administration's Know Before You Go effort to improve student awareness of the cost of college and student debt, the shopping sheet also fulfills a mandate in the Higher Education Opportunity Act to study model student aid offer letters. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a letter to college presidents asking them to commit to using the shopping sheet format beginning next year (2013-14). Use of the shopping sheet is also tied to providing the financial information called for in the Principles of Excellence for military and veterans' education established in a recent Executive Order.


Liz Clark

Vice President, Policy and Research



Bryan Dickson

Director, Student Financial Services and Educational Programs


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