Franken introduces bill for clearer financial aid letters

Bryna Godar

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) introduced a bill last Thursday aimed at increasing transparency of college costs for parents and students. The bipartisan legislation would create a universal financial aid award letter to help students compare financial aid packages between schools.

The press release reports that right now, schools do not use universal terms and families have difficulty discerning between grant aid and student loans. This bill would aim to provide families with a clear picture of how much each college will cost.

The Understanding the True Cost of College Act would also call for the development of standard definitions of terms for use in the letters and would require a variety of basic information to be included.

In Minnesota, 71 percent of students graduate with debt, with the average student owing $29,058, according to the Project on Student Debt.  Minnesota ranks fifth in the nation for proportion of students graduating with debt and fourth for average debt.

The University of Minnesota had 63 percent of students graduate with debt in 2010, with the average debt at $27,578.