Some universities plan to reveal financial realities

by Emma Nelson

Amid skyrocketing student debt and the ongoing congressional battle over student loan interest rates, ten colleges and universities want to increase the transparency of financial aid.

According to the Los Angeles Times, school representatives were scheduled to meet with Vice President Joe Biden, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday to discuss disclosing annual tuition costs, financial aid options and potential payments on federal student loans after graduation. The information will be included in financial aid packages for incoming students in the fall of 2013.

Arizona Public Media reported that the information packages, called "shopping sheets," will make it possible for students to compare the costs of different colleges online.

Christine Wilkinson, the vice president of Arizona State University, said this disclosure is part of an effort by the Obama administration "to keep college affordable."

"Too often, students and families face confusion when comparing financial aid packages, some of which do not clearly differentiate loans from grants, nor distinguish private vs. federal loans, making it difficult to compare aid offers side-by-side," White House representatives told the LA Times.

The schools participating are the state university systems of Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Texas, as well as North Carolina A&T University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Syracuse University, Arizona State University, Miami Dade College and Vassar College.