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Michigan's 15 public universities sign on to student aid transparency initiative

Graduation. Rear view of the student with university graduates crowded or Graduation cap in the graduation ceremony.
Siam Pukkato/Siam - stock.adobe.com
A graduate.

Michigan’s 15 public universities have joined a nationwide initiative to make student financial aid offers more transparent and standardized. The College Cost Transparency Initiative is a nationwide effort intended to combat inconsistencies in financial aid communication. It includes more than 500 universities and colleges around the country.

“There has been some concern, more on a national level, of inconsistency in how colleges and universities provide their financial aid award letters to entering students,” said Daniel Hurley, the CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities. “A number of institutions or associations at the national level came together and took a look at the most important aspects of what should be included in a standardized financial aid award letter.”

In a statement, the CCT said its guidance will make financial aid offers more transparent by displaying attendance costs, separating grants from loans and scholarships, and providing an estimated net cost. It will also explain conditions for loans and information on student employment. The group said the language on the aid letters will be clear and uniform.

“They will ensure that all costs are understandable for students and their families and that they will provide a most accurate estimate possible of a student's cost of attendance,” said Hurley. “If there's a student loan involved, they'll have a very good understanding of how much loan debt they will have over time and what the pay down is.”

Michael Rotundo is the financial aid director for Northern Michigan University. He said schools are looking to help students through the aid process.

“Financial aid can be a scary process for families who have not been through the process before.” he said. “One of the main goals, as I see it, is that we're providing financial aid information for our school in a consistent manner.”

He said financial aid documents will help families break down total costs.

“Ultimately, coming up with a net price, meaning how much it costs to go to the school, minus the scholarships and grants; they'll be able to compare that net price with figures from another school that may have a higher price point but different levels of scholarships and grants.”

A.J. Jones is a newsroom intern and graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Sources say he owns a dog named Taffy.
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