All of the SUNY system’s 64 campuses will use the letter for the 2013-2014 academic year, as part of the SUNY Smart Track™ campaign, which promotes transparency in college financing.
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.
“Students can expect to see the new letter as early as April,” said SUNY Canton’s Director of Financial Aid Kerrie L. Cooper. “It will really help students and their families compare colleges and help them in the decision process.”
Cooper serves on the committee of financial aid directors who helped SUNY develop the standardized letter. “It is exceptionally important that the financial aid process be as open and transparent as possible,” she added.
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 the most proactive, comprehensive financial aid information and services in the country.
“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,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. 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.”
More recently, in the 2013 State of the University Address, Chancellor Zimpher announced that SUNY Smart Track™ 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.
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 Track™ 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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