Editorial | Increase financial aid transparency and allocations
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 01:09
In July, the United States Department of Education, in conjunction with the recently formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, released the blueprint for its “Financial Aid Shopping Sheet” to help college aid applicants. The Sheet functions as a financial aid comparison tool for prospective college students. It lists information for individual schools like estimated cost of full time enrollment, average grants and scholarships and contact information for an institution’s financial aid office.
In an open letter to university presidents, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan affirmed that the path to producing more college graduates starts with an easier, more transparent way for prospective students to realize their future financial obligations.
Tufts has not yet decided whether or not they will join the ranks of the Shopping Sheet’s schools. According to Patricia Reilly, Tufts Director of Financial Aid, the financial aid department is weighing the pros and cons of contributing information.
Obtaining precise financial aid statistics about Tufts is not currently a straightforward process. In order to find statistics that the Shopping Sheet will include — like the net cost of enrollment, or the cost of tuition, books, housing, etc., minus average grants and scholarships — a prospective student must comb through Tufts’ website.
With the Shopping Sheet, not only would a wealth of financial aid information be easily available for all participating schools, but students would also be able to view side-by-side comparisons of each school’s data.
Unfortunately, Tufts’ relatively small endowment has resulted in disappointing financial assistance compared to many other schools of similar ranking, stature and size. It stands to reason that with this limitation, many worthy candidates will not have access to adequate financial aid packages and will not be able to enroll. Therefore, the lack of financial aid available directly impacts who matriculates here, which could account for Tufts’ relative lack of socioeconomic and racial diversity.
Signing on with the Shopping Sheet will not automatically solve those problems, but it will help create transparency between the administration, the student body and prospective students. Greater transparency will enable necessary conversations about this important issue and, perhaps, those invested in the cause will have something more substantial to work with when striving to improve the system. For these reasons, we encourage Tufts’ financial aid office to embrace the opportunity provided by this program. With its implementation, past, current and potential Jumbos will have easy access to raw stats and real information.