Guidance Letter on College Aid Shopping Sheet 2012

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July 24, 2012

Dear College President:

Getting students successfully through college and into the workforce is a shared responsibility among federal and state governments, institutions like yours, and students and families. In order to meet our national goal of producing the highest proportion of college graduates by the end of this decade, we must make it easier for parents and students to finance their college education and to understand their financial obligations. It starts with transparency.

Today, I am asking you to voluntarily adopt a new “Shopping Sheet” we have developed that clearly shows prospective students the cost of their college education. The “Shopping Sheet” reflects input from thousands of students, parents, college counselors, financial aid administrators, and other higher education officials. It is designed to be consumer-friendly while putting as little burden as possible on you and your institution. We believe the “Shopping Sheet” accomplishes both while allowing colleges to include additional financial aid information specific to each institution.

The “Shopping Sheet” can be viewed on the Department’s Web site at And your institution may indicate its commitment to using this tool, or direct any questions regarding its adoption, to [email protected].

Students should not have to wait until after they graduate to find out the size of their monthly student loan payment. Families choosing a college should have clear and comparable information in a common format to guide their choice. And no one should forego college because they think they cannot afford it.

Our goal is that more students will arrive at school each fall less worried about how they will pay for college and more focused on how they will complete college. We know that you share that goal, and so we hope that you will join your colleagues across the country who have already agreed to adopt the “Shopping Sheet” starting in the 2013-2014 school year.

Thank you very much for your consideration of this request, and for the important work you do every day to provide a quality college education to young people and adults and to help secure America’s future.


Arne Duncan