Home News Recommendations: What Postsecondary Institutions Should Work to Avoid When Issuing Financial Aid Offers – IFAP

Recommendations: What Postsecondary Institutions Should Work to Avoid When Issuing Financial Aid Offers – IFAP

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The U.S. Department of Education recognizes that stakeholders within the postsecondary education community continue to work to reach agreement on standard terminology and format for financial aid offers. As that work continues, below is guidance from the Department on what schools should avoid when issuing financial aid offers:

  1. Avoid calling your financial aid offer an “award” and avoid calling it a “letter.” Loans are not awards. Work-study is not an award, it is the potential for employment that offers earnings to students. Using a term like “financial aid offer” or “college financing” is clearer. Given that many institutions deliver these offers via electronic communication, calling them “letter” can also be confusing.
  2. Avoid issuing a financial aid offer that does not include cost of attendance. For any student and/or family to be able to make an informed decision, the amount of aid received must be compared to the total cost of attendance in order to determine the student/family financial contribution.
  3. Avoid listing the cost of attendance without breaking it down into clear components. For students and families to be able to plan how to cover costs, the provided cost of attendance needs to be transparent about what is and is not included. While basic needs like food and shelter are critical, other keys costs such as books, supplies, medical insurance and transportation also need to be anticipated as students and families determine if a school is a financial fit for them.

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