WAMC News
5:25 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

New York Senator Calls For Mandatory Simplification of Student Loan Information

New York’s junior Senator is calling for passage of legislation to establish a uniform financial aid form and terminology for use by all colleges and higher education institutions.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling for passage of legislation that would require colleges and universities to use a uniform financial aid award letter and standardize financial aid terminology. Her call comes the day after the U.S. Department of Education released a model standardized financial aid award letter called the “Shopping Sheet”.  U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan unveiled the new form on Monday.

But the so-called Shopping Sheet program is voluntary.  NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says only 10 colleges will use the Shopping Sheet and she wants the “Understanding the True Cost of College Act” passed.  Gillibrand says it would make the Department of Education’s condensed, concise form mandatory.

The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation several years ago started providing families with a simplified form that they could use compare their financial aid. President and CEO Don Vickers says it has made a big difference for their students.

Senator Gillibrand’s office cited data from College Insight that found  more than one million students in New York were enrolled in higher education in 2009-2010 holding an average of more than 26-thousand dollars in loan debt.