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SUNY schools standardize financial aid letter

SUNY schools standardize financial aid letter

All 64 SUNY campuses will be using a standard Financial Aid Award Letter for the 2013-14 academic ye

All 64 SUNY campuses will be using a standard Financial Aid Award Letter for the 2013-14 academic year, university officials announced Wednesday.

The initiative is part of the SUNY Smart Track campaign, which is the system’s commitment to college cost transparency and a reduction in student debt.

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.

“While college students across the country are taking on more loan debt than ever before, SUNY Smart Track 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,” Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said in a news release issued by SUNY.

“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.”

Development of the standard financial aid award letter was first announced when SUNY launched its Smart Track campaign in September.

With the launch, SUNY adopted the concept of transparency of financial aid and college costs, and the system began offering students what it calls the most proactive, comprehensive financial aid information and services in the country.

In her 2013 State of the University Address last month, Zimpher announced that SUNY Smart Track would contribute to a larger systemwide goal of decreasing the loan default rate of SUNY students by at least 5 percent over the next five years.

The average indebtedness of a SUNY graduate is $22,575, a bit below the national average of $26,600.

The vast majority of SUNY student loan borrowers repay their loans successfully.

Samples of the standard award letters that will be used for resident and commuting students are available online.

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