In January, the U.S. Department of Education’ s (ED) Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) released a new beta-version of the 2019-2020 Financial Aid Shopping Sheet that was first introduced in 2012. After soliciting feedback from schools and stakeholders on the template earlier this year, the Office of Postsecondary Education has released a finalized form template which incorporates improvements based on the recommendations and feedback they received.
According to the OPE announcement, the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet was redubbed the “College Financing Plan” to “more accurately reflect that loans may be a significant part of the student’s investment, and to emphasize to students that they are making a financial transaction when enrolling in an institution.”
The College Financing Plan looks very similar to the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet institutions have been using for many years, but some of the information has changed a bit. For example, the new form template includes additional information about interest rates on each loan as well as new information about need-based and merit based scholarships, on campus versus off campus housing, and even additional clarity on the difference between grants, which don’t have to be repaid and loans, which do. The form has also been decluttered and simplified to make it easier to read and understand. Section headings have also been restructured to better illustrate a rather simple formula its predecessor didn’t do so well; Total Cost of Attendance – Grants and Scholarships = Net Cost.
Schools that signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to comply with the Principles of Excellence (POE) in Executive Order 13607 will be required to begin using the new format for the 2020-2021 award year once it is released however ED has not provided clarification as to when, and whether or not schools currently using the FA Shopping sheet need to adopt the College Financing Plan.