Mar. 01, 2013

College to Use Standard SUNY Financial Aid Award Letter


GENESEO, N.Y. - SUNY Geneseo will begin using a standard financial aid award letter for the 2013-14 academic year, as part of the SUNY Smart TrackTM campaign, the system's commitment to college cost transparency and a reduction in student debt. All of the system's 64 campuses will use the letter.

The new award letter will allow students and their families to see clearly the cost of attendance and financial aid offerings at each campus, including campus-specific information such as graduation rate, median borrowing, and loan default rate. SUNY is the first and largest public system of higher education nationally to implement such a tool for students and families.

"Implementing this letter is part of an effort to help streamline and easily guides students and parents through the financial aid process," said Archie Cureton, director of financial aid at Geneseo. "Financial aid options and decisions can be bewildering and I applaud any effort to help them navigate the system."

Development of the standard financial aid award letter was first announced when SUNY launched its Smart TrackTM campaign in September. With the launch, SUNY adopted the concept of transparency of financial aid and college costs and the system began offering students the most proactive, comprehensive financial aid information and services in the country.

More recently, in the 2013 State of the University Address, SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher announced that SUNY Smart TrackTM would contribute to a wider system-wide goal of decreasing the loan default rate of SUNY students by at least five percent over the next five years.

"While college students across the country are taking on more loan debt than ever before, SUNY Smart TrackTM gives our prospective students the most comprehensive and transparent financial aid information available so that they can make informed decisions about how to pay for their college education," said Zimpher. "The standard award letter will allow prospective students and their families to easily compare colleges within SUNY and view a full outline of the financial commitment associated with their education."
The average indebtedness of a SUNY graduate is $22,575, well below the national average of $26,600. The vast majority of SUNY student loan borrowers repay their loans successfully.

The SUNY Smart TrackTM Award Letter was developed by a committee of campus Financial Aid Directors, and others, who were tasked with adopting the intent of the federal Financial Aid Shopping Sheet while creating a unique version for SUNY. Additionally, the campaign calls for an expansion of SUNY's Student Loan Service Center, early engagement of students at risk of default, and providing new and improved online resources such as a net price calculator, chats with financial aid experts, and financial literacy materials.

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