POUGHKEEPSIE, NY -- By special invitation Vassar president Catharine Hill attended a White House meeting today with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and nine other college and university presidents on an initiative to improve how college cost and financial aid information is presented to students and their families. President Hill pledged the college’s commitment to the project.
“As presidents we endorsed this transparency for our institutions and it is our hope that other institutions will do the same. I am very proud that Vassar's commitment to financial aid and access was recognized by the White House,” said Hill.
The White House initiative calls on the participating colleges to provide clearer, more useful, and more consistent cost and financial aid information, to help students and their families make the best decisions about where to enroll and what kind of financial commitment they are taking on. Each of the participating institutions will commit to providing the following information in one easy-to-understand place, to all incoming students 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.
To help families better understand this information, the U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, gathered input from students, families, and the higher education community to develop a model financial aid award letter, or “Financial Aid Shopping Sheet”, which colleges and universities can adopt to provide prospective students with information about the type and amount of aid they qualify for. A key goal is to make it easier for students and their families to compare aid packages offered by different institutions. A draft “Financial Aid Shopping Sheet” was posted online for public comment and feedback, and over a thousand comments are shaping the final form (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/students/knowbeforeyouowe/).
Vassar College provided approximately $53 million in need-based scholarship grant aid this past school year, supporting more than 60% of the college's more than 2,400 students with an average scholarship grant of almost $35,000. That was nearly double the amount of grant aid Vassar provided five years ago and accounted for more than a quarter of the college’s operating budget this fiscal year.
Along with Vassar, these colleges, universities and state systems of higher education were represented at today’s meeting and are also committing to the White House’s call for transparency in financial aid information:
- Arizona State University
- 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)
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.