Report on Confusion Created in Aid Award Letters

June 5, 2018

In a report today, New America and uAspire call for a new effort to standardize financial aid award letters to make them more transparent to college students and their families.

Researchers from the organization examined more than 500 award letters from colleges and universities and found they were inconsistent and often didn't offer financial aid sufficient to cover the cost of attendance.

Among the key findings from the analysis: award letters often use confusing jargon and terminology; more than a third did not include the complete cost of attendance; most letters fail to distinguish between different types of aid such as grants and loans; Parent PLUS loans are sometimes packaged misleadingly, making aid appear more generous; and about half of letters did not include clear information about what action to take on the award offers.

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