Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) announced Friday that they have cosponsored legislation introduced by Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that would require schools to use a universal financial aid award letter so that students and families can more accurately discern the true cost of a college education.
In the current system, colleges and universities provide varied and at times confusing descriptions of their financial aid awards. Often, it is difficult for students and their families to compare different aid packages and understand the true cost of attending college. With this legislation, financial aid awards would be presented in a universal format that would allow students and their families to make more informed financial decisions when choosing which institution best suits the student's needs.
"For too long students and families in Delaware and across America have had to deal with a system of higher education financial aid that is too often confusing and frustrating," said. Senator Carper. "This financial confusion has been augmented by increasing tuition costs and longer loan repayment times. Young Americans entering this pivotal time of their lives and their families should have clear, comprehensive information before entering into the sort of long-term financial obligation that college aid presents. I am confident this legislation will help students make more informed decisions regarding their financial aid and help our country move towards the goal of making higher education more affordable and accessible."
"We aren't going to be able to help more kids get to college if we aren't able to help more kids afford college first," Senator Coons said. "With the cost of college rising and the dependence on loans and other forms of aid growing, it's critical that students and their families know what they're getting into. This bipartisan bill will give students the tools to make smarter financial decisions and set themselves up for more prosperous futures.
According to a Pew Research study, nearly 20% of U.S. households owed money on student loans in 2010, and that number doubles to 40% if the head of the household is younger than 35. In the past year, total student loan debt has topped $1 trillion.
Additional cosponsors of the legislation include Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).