TRENTON – State Sen. Barbara Buono announced today the introduction of legislation that would require four-year colleges to provide a “financial aid shopping sheet” to prospective students as part of their financial aid package.
“Now, more than ever, cost is a major factor in deciding where and whether to go to college,” said Buono (D-Middlesex.) “But it can be incredibly difficult to accurately compare the financial aid packages offered by different schools. The ‘financial aid shopping sheet’ would allow families to more easily compare the actual costs of attending specific colleges.”
The financial aid shopping sheet would be individualized to each prospective students and provide essential information on the cost of attendance such as total cost, total grants and scholarships and the total net amount the student would owe for one year of attendance. Additionally the shopping sheet would provide information on how the student could finance the net cost through work-study funds, federal loans and private loans, as well as the expected monthly loan payments the student would have upon graduation.
“The financial aid shopping sheet is about providing the most essential information in an easy to understand format,” explained Buono. “It’s about empowering students and families, as consumers in the higher education marketplace, to take control of financial aid and make smarter decisions.”
The financial aid shopping sheet would also compare the prospective college to other public and private institutions of higher education in terms of average cost per year, percentage of students graduating within six years and retention rate of non-graduating students.
The bill would require the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education to create a model financial aid shopping sheet that would standardize how the information is presented. The secretary would be directed to consider the sample shopping sheet recently developed by the U.S. Department of Education and Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
“The Obama administration has already begun to push for more transparency in higher education costs. New Jersey should expand on those efforts so that our students can make the best decisions possible,” added Buono.
The bill awaits assignment to a committee for a hearing.
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