In the summer of 2012, the Obama Administration introduced the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet so that families could have a clear, concise way to see the cost of a particular school. The Shopping Sheet provides a standardized award letter allowing students to easily compare financial aid packages and make informed decisions on where to attend college.
So far, nearly 2,000 institutions have committed to providing the Shopping Sheet to their prospective students. Those institutions represent over 43 percent of, or over 8.1 million, undergraduate students across the United States.
Since institutions started adopting the Shopping Sheet, we’ve received input from students, parents, guidance counselors, and financial aid administrators. The feedback suggests that institutions and students are becoming more familiar with the Shopping Sheet, so the newest edition of the Shopping Sheet includes only modest changes. To improve clarity, ED has identified minor language changes and has added a glossary to better explain financial aid terms. Additionally, data used to populate college outcomes used on the Shopping Sheet (graduation rate, loan default rate, and median borrowing) have also been updated to be one year more current.
Through the release of college search and transparency tools, such as the College Scorecard, Financial Aid Toolkit, and the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet, the Obama Administration continues to demonstrate its commitment to improving transparency in the college selection process. Institutions interested in adopting the Shopping Sheet may contact the U.S. Department of Education at ShoppingSheet@ed.gov. For more information on the Shopping Sheet, including a list of participating institutions, visit www.ed.gov/financial-aid-shopping-sheet.
Michael Itzkowitz is a special advisor in the Office of Postsecondary Education