WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan last week cosponsored a bipartisan bill to empower students and their families with better information about the costs of college. The bipartisan Understanding the True Cost of College Act would create a universal financial aid award letter to allow prospective students to compare colleges to find the best value. NPR recently highlighted the issue of colleges and universities providing misleading and confusing financial aid letters.
“It should be straightforward for students to compare how much financial aid colleges are offering them, but right now, students have to wade through confusing, inconsistent, and at times misleading information about different colleges’ aid packages,” Senator Hassan said. “Our bipartisan bill would simplify the financial aid process by creating a universal financial aid offer letter to make it easier for students and parents to determine which college is the best fit economically.”
The Understanding the True Cost of College Act, which was introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Joni Ernst (R-IA), would create a universal financial aid award letter so that students could easily compare financial aid packages between schools. It would clarify what financial aid families will receive from a school and create standard terms for the aid offered so that students could accurately compare offers from different schools. Right now, schools do not use standard definitions or names for different types of aid, so students and families often report having difficulty figuring out the differences between grant aid — which does not need to be repaid — and student loans, which do need to be repaid.
A summary of the Understanding the True Cost of College Act is available here.