U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Richard Cordray and Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz met in Washington, D.C., today, June 5, with presidents and leaders from 10 colleges, universities and state systems of higher education who have committed to providing key financial information to all of their incoming students starting next year.

Arizona State University was among those committed universities in attendance.

“Arizona State University is dedicated to excellence and access for all academically qualified students regardless of socio-economic background,” Crow said. “The university strongly supports the recommendations put forth by Vice President Biden, Secretary Duncan, Director Cordray and Director Muñoz, and we are committed to providing students and their families with information they need to better understand the long-term financial investment they are making in higher education.”

ASU’s commitment to financial aid transparency includes providing the following information to all incoming students, in one easy-to-understand place, as part of their financial aid package beginning with the 2013-2014 school year:

  • How much one year of college will cost;
  • Financial aid options to pay this cost, with a clear differentiation between grants and scholarships, which do not have to be repaid, and loans, which do;
  • Net costs after grants and scholarships are taken into account;
  • Estimated monthly payments for the federal student loans the student would likely owe after graduation; and
  • Vital information about student results, including comparative information about the rates at which students enroll from one year to the next, graduate, and repay their loans without defaulting on their obligations.

Additional colleges, universities and state systems of higher education making the commitment to transparency in financial aid information include Miami Dade College, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, State University System of New York (comprised of 64 colleges, universities, and community colleges), Syracuse University, University of Massachusetts System (comprised of 5 universities), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University System of Maryland (comprised of 12 universities), University of Texas System (comprised of 9 universities), and Vassar College.

Ensuring every American can attain a college credential is critical to President Barack Obama’s plan for creating an “America Built to Last.” With two out of every three new jobs requiring some postsecondary education, completing college has never been more important. However, it  also has never been more expensive. Students are borrowing more to attend college—about two-thirds of bachelor’s degree recipients, in fact, and accumulate an average debt at graduation of over $26,000 in federal and private student loans. While a quality higher education remains a sound investment, students and families need to clearly understand the costs and benefits of each college they are considering so they can easily compare choices and identify the best value prior to enrolling.

A key piece of President Obama’s plan to make college more affordable is improved information and transparency of college costs and value. Clarity and accessibility of information is necessary so that students and families can make informed decisions about where to attend college, so they can choose a school that is best suited to their financial and educational goals. Too often, students and families face confusion when comparing financial aid packages, some of which do not clearly differentiate loans from grants, nor distinguish private vs. federal loans, making it difficult to compare aid offers side-by-side.

To help families better understand this information, the U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the CFPB, gathered input from students, families, and the higher education community to develop a model financial aid award letter, or Financial Aid Shopping Sheet www.consumerfinance.gov/students/knowbeforeyouowe, which colleges and universities can adopt to provide prospective students with the type and amount of aid they qualify for and easily compare aid packages offered by different institutions.