(General) Subject: 2019-2020 College Financing Plan (Shopping Sheet)

Posted Date:January 16, 2019

Author: Office of Postsecondary Education

Subject: 2019-2020 College Financing Plan (Shopping Sheet)

In July 2012, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet (now the College Financing Plan) format and asked institutions to voluntarily commit to supplying financial aid information to students in a way that could be better understood and compared.

However, despite the commitment to using the standardized format, we have heard a number of concerns about elements of the template that could be improved to make it more user friendly to institutions and students. We have also reviewed the NASFAA report No Clear Winner: Consumer Testing of Financial Aid Award Letters as well as comments that have been submitted to ShoppingSheet@ed.gov. As a result, we have developed a revised format that includes the following changes:

1 We are changing the name of the template from Financial Aid Shopping Sheet to College Financing Plan to more accurately reflect that loans may be a significant part of the student’s investment, and to emphasize to students that they are making a financial transaction when enrolling in an institution.
2 We are introducing the College Financing Plan template this year as part of a beta testing protocol. While institutions are not required to use the updated template, we hope that some will use it in their financial aid packaging in order to tell us what improvements could be made before rolling this out in final form next year.

For those institutions which choose to test the new format this year, we ask that you submit any comments or suggestions to shoppingsheet@ed.gov no later than April 1, 2019.

As we have done in the past, attached to this Electronic Announcement are all components needed by institutions to complete institutional College Financing Plans (i.e., HTML specifications and the institutional metric data file, as well as the technical guide and a set of Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs).

The format of the College Financing Plan will be updated in 2020-2021 to include additional data elements as well as a new responsive design and the ability to customize the colors of the College Financing Plan to match those of your institution. ED has made a preview of the new College Financing Plan format available this year so institutions can review the changes, provide feedback and prepare for the changes in store for the 2020-2021 College Financing Plan. We are still working to develop a format and additional data elements that are more appropriate for graduate and professional school students, and we welcome your comments on how best to meet the needs of those students.

HTML Specifications:

Institutions and their software providers may use the attached HTML specifications to produce and populate the College Financing Plan, using the applicable fields from their existing data systems. The HTML specifications include a “download” button on the College Financing Plan to allow students to download their student aid offer information into a machine-readable format (XML). This XML layout is also attached. We encourage institutions providing students their College Financing Plan in electronic format to include this feature. Institutions that are delivering the College Financing Plan in print form may want to remove the “download” button.

For convenience, a PDF version of the College Financing Plan is also attached.

Institutional Metric Data File:

The student information on the College Financing Plan is populated using the applicable fields from institutions’ existing data systems. The data and information necessary to populate the institutional metrics section of the College Financing Plan—the graduation rate, the loan repayment rate, and the median borrowing figures — are provided in the attached files. The institutional metrics data file is updated on an annual basis. Data used to populate the metrics on the College Financing Plan comes from ED’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), through the College Scorecard. Therefore, accurate institutional reporting to IPEDS and NSLDS is necessary to ensure that correct information is populated within the College Financing Plan metric data file and, ultimately, made available to students.

We thank you for your consideration in providing feedback on and adopting the College Financing Plan. If you plan to adopt the College Financing Plan for the 2019-2020 academic year or wish to provide feedback, please contact us at ShoppingSheet@ed.gov.


College Financing Plan

Responsive Preview

2019-2020 College Financing Plan Responsive Preview XML (Coming Soon)

Last Modified: 01/15/2019