Central Michigan University will join more than 600 colleges and universities nationwide in offering a financial aid “shopping sheet” for the 2013-14 school year.
The Shopping Sheet is a consumer tool designed to simplify and standardize the way costs and financial aid are presented to prospective students. The U.S. Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau hopes this new tool will allow students to make more informed decisions about which school to attend.
“This individualized standard financial aid award letter should make it much easier for families to better understand the costs of college before making the final decision on where to enroll,” Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid Kirk Yats said via email.
CMU will be offering the shopping sheet in 2013-14 to be in compliance with Executive Order 13607.
The order establishes “principles of excellence,” which include a shopping sheet for educational institutions serving service members, veterans, spouses and other family members.
Yats said CMU, along with other institutions, have agreed to comply with EO 13607 and plan to provide a shopping sheet to all students.
Currently, Eastern Michigan University, Michigan State University and 20 other smaller colleges and institutes in Michigan are going to offer shopping sheets for the upcoming school year.
In the coming years, Yats expects the number of schools offering the sheets to go up.
“Given the amount of recent concern associated with increasing student borrowing and overall college affordability, I would not be surprised to see the shopping sheet or some other tool become a requirement for all colleges,” he said.
Yats hopes the shopping sheets will make families more informed consumers when choosing which institution to attend.
“While the administration works with leaders of colleges and universities to make sure they do their part in keeping costs manageable, students and parents can also do their part by becoming informed consumers when they make college decisions,” Yats said.
Under the current system, it can be very hard to have a good comparison between schools because different universities present their financial aid in many different ways. Yats thinks this new sheet will help make comparisons clearer for prospective students.
“As a parent, I believe the shopping sheet will provide families with a clear and useful tool to help them assess their student’s college choices,” Yats said. “The shopping sheet will allow students to do an ‘apple to apple’ comparison to other colleges that use the sheet, too.”