The U.S. Department of Education recently released the annual updates for the 2017-2018 financial aid shopping sheet components. Schools can now begin implementing the 2017-2018 FA Shopping Sheet earlier thanks to the Early FAFSA.

The shopping sheet is a resource to help consumers understand their educational costs and the aid available to meet those costs. The standardized format which may be used as a stand-alone award letter or as a cover sheet to an institution’s existing award letter helps consumers compare the cost of attendance and aid awards across schools. Since it’s inception in 2012, over 3000 institutions are using the shopping sheet, with many of them doing so after first voluntarily adopting the Principles of Excellence outlined in Executive Order 13607.

Back in 2012, the White House issued Executive Order 13607, which created the Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veteran, Spouses and Other Family Members. The principles apply to all postsecondary schools that receive funding from any of the federal military and veterans educational benefits programs such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Tuition Assistance Program as well as veterans vocational rehabilitation and other programs. One of the principles requires institutions to provide affected students with a personalized and standardized form describing students’ educational costs and how those costs may be covered by financial aid. The Financial Aid Shopping Sheet helps institutions satisfy that principle.