N.J. Colleges Slow to Adopt New Data Sheet on Student Aid

By DeMarrais, Kevin | The Record (Bergen County, NJ), December 2, 2012 | Go to article overview

N.J. Colleges Slow to Adopt New Data Sheet on Student Aid


DeMarrais, Kevin, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)


A new financial aid "shopping sheet" developed by two federal agencies should make it easier for college-bound students to compare financial aid packages.

Already, nearly 600 colleges and universities have signed on to use the form, but even more -- including all but two New Jersey colleges -- have not done so.

It seems like such a no-brainer.

The form, created in July by the Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, provides students with a standardized award letter allowing them "to easily compare financial aid packages and make informed decisions on where to attend college," Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, said in a letter recently posted on both agencies' websites.

"We must unravel the mystery of higher education so that students can invest wisely and make the best, most informed decision possible about where to enroll," he said. "Students and their families now have a clear, concise way to see the cost of a particular school."

Already, 1 in 7 colleges in the country with a combined undergraduate enrollment of more than 2.5 million -- about 13 percent of all undergrads -- say they plan to use the new form, starting with the 2013-14 academic year.

But it still hasn't caught on in New Jersey, as New Jersey City University is the only traditional college in the state to sign up.

The only other participant from the state is the Jersey City branch of the University of Phoenix, the nation's largest for- profit college, which, like dozens of branches of other big for- profit colleges, are using the form.

So why not Rutgers and New Jersey's other state colleges when the University of Massachusetts, Penn State and branches of the State University of New York are on board?

The sheet was made final in July, and while nearly 600 institutions have joined in -- "a relatively fast take-up" -- some are taking a wait-and-see approach and others have to solve technology problems, said Daren Briscoe, a U.S. Department of Education spokesman.

Rutgers is in the first group.

It currently provides a net price calculator, which allows prospective students to estimate their total annual cost and eligibility for financial aid as it evaluates the effectiveness of the shopping sheet, a university spokesman said. …

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