Shopping sheets simplify financial aid


Students across the country are now assuming a sense of financial control for their academic futures as the new version of the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet was released Sept. 25.

The Shopping Sheet will allow college applicants to understand their costs and compare financial aid packages from different universities, giving them an opportunity to make informed decisions on investing in higher learning.

The sheet is a concise breakdown of information which is presented in a standardized format, outlining total estimated costs, loan options, institutional rates of completion and default, as well as information about a student’s potential monthly loan payments after graduation.

“Looking back, I wish this was around when I was an undergraduate,” said Cheryce Knox a Florida A&M alumna. “The shopping sheet really lays out the costs and simplifies every bit of information for you. This would have definitely assisted in my understanding for the loans I took out.” 

Over 300 institutions have voluntarily adopted the Shopping Sheet, which accounts for about 10 percent of the nation’s total undergraduate population or approximately 1.9 million students. Florida A&M is one of the schools in the process of adopting the sheet, and, according to Vice President of Student Affairs William E. Hudson, Jr., FAMU plans to provide students with a digital sheet on the financial aid website in the near future.  

“There are several steps that we must go through before we actually implement this into our system,” Hudson said. “We will be meeting with Michael James, vice president of enterprise and technology, before we make any final decisions.”

In the meantime, students can access online tools through iRattler’s Campus Solutions and check to-do lists to ensure their information is updated, which will increase the efficiency of the award process. 

“Many students do not take advantage of the online resources the financial aid office provides,” James said. “It is one thing to have a sheet, but the student has to utilize the information.”

President Barack Obama has made it clear. He’s adamant about providing families with the educational tools to succeed in the global market by setting a goal for the nation to lead the world in college completion by the end of the decade. 

Making college more affordable and implementing planned programs to increase students’ and families’ understandings are exceptionally important when making a life-changing decision.

To  ensure students and families are making the best decision for their futures, FAMU’s education department also released an interactive financial awareness counseling tool to help students learn more about their loans, manage their budgets, choose the best repayment plan and avoid default.

According to Arne Duncan, the U.S secretary of education, “Our goal is to help students arrive at school each fall less worried about how they will pay for college and more focused on how they will complete college.”