On August 30, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) provided additional guidance about the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet that was announced on July 25. The Shopping Sheet was developed as a tool to show a prospective student the personalized cost of a college education at a particular institution. ED has asked institutions voluntarily to adopt the Shopping Sheet beginning with the 2013-14 award year.
ED, in cooperation with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, developed the Shopping Sheet as directed by the Higher Education Opportunity Act. The Shopping Sheet was designed to serve as a model format for financial aid award letters:
- An institution is permitted to make limited modifications to the one-page template by deleting items that are not relevant to particular groups of students (e.g., graduate students)
- The Shopping Sheet may be used to supplement, rather than replace, an institution’s existing award letter
- An institution is encouraged – but is not required – to use the Shopping Sheet when it revises a student’s financial aid package
The Shopping Sheet is intended to be used by institutions that agree to comply with the principles in Executive Order 13607, Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members. Under E.O. 13607, an institution must provide each of its prospective veteran and service member students with a personalized and standardized form describing the costs of the educational program and the amount of that cost that available Federal education benefits and financial aid may cover. ED has designated the Shopping Sheet as the form described by E.O. 13607. An institution that has agreed to comply with the principles of E.O. 13607 is not required to use the Shopping Sheet for its students who are not veterans or service members, but ED recommended that compliance with E.O. 13607 “might be accomplished most easily” by providing the Shopping Sheet to all students.