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Reps. Young Kim, Raja Krishnamoorthi Lead Effort to Improve Financial Aid Transparency for Students and Families

November 18, 2021

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Young Kim (CA-39) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) introduced the bipartisan Understanding the True Cost of College Act (H.R. 6002) to streamline and improve transparency of the financial aid process so students and families can better navigate decisions regarding the cost of college.

“After putting myself through school and raising four children, I have seen as a student and as a parent how confusing the financial aid process can be. At a time when Americans are seeing record-high prices on everyday goods and are working hard to make ends meet, families need transparency and need the most accurate information regarding the cost of college and available education options,” said Congresswoman Kim. “I’m glad to work with Rep. Krishnamoorthi to introduce the Understanding the True Cost of College Act to streamline financial aid information so families can make the best, informed decision and students can reduce the chance for college debt. I will keep doing everything I can to make life more affordable for Californians I represent.”

“Students and their families need the best available information about the costs of college as they review financial aid packages and make essential decisions about what college to attend or whether to attend college at all,” said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. “Unfortunately, this information is often unclear and inconsistent across institutions. Our legislation will help address this problem by ensuring that information on the true cost of different colleges is consistent and accessible to students and their families,” said Congressman Krishnamoorthi.

“Streamlining the student financial aid process will provide much needed transparency for students to better understand and plan for education and training expenses. The True Cost of College Act can remove barriers and improve outcomes in post-secondary education and training programs that will allow more Americans to access good jobs,” said Zima Creason, Executive Director, CA EDGE Coalition.

“We strongly support the Understanding the True Cost of College Act. Research from New America has shown that the way colleges and universities communicate price and financial aid makes it difficult for students to make the best considerations for their family. This legislation will help students more clearly understand their cost and financial aid including federal student loan options. It will allow students to easily make apples-to-apples comparisons of financial aid packages from every college at which they’ve been accepted. We thank Representatives Young Kim and Krishnamoorthi for their leadership on this important issue,” said Rachel Fishman, Deputy Director for Higher Education Research, New America.

“We applaud Reps. Kim and Krishnamoorthi for introducing the Understanding the True Cost of College Act to ensure that colleges provide students and families with clear, transparent, and comparable information about college costs and the options available to help cover those costs,” said Michele Streeter, Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy, The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS).

The Understanding the True Cost of College Act would improve financial aid transparency by:

  • Standardizing financial aid offer forms and ensuring the Department of Education to work with colleges, consumer groups, students, and school guidance counselors to develop standard definitions for award letters;
  • Establishing basic minimums of information that must be included on page one of the uniform financial aid offer form such as cost of attendance, grant aid, the net amount a student is responsible for paying after subtracting grant aid, work study assistance, eligible amounts of federal student loans, information on calculating the costs of repaying student loans, disclosures related to private loans and parent loans, treatment of scholarships, and the terms and conditions of federal financial aid; and,

A similar version of this bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) in April.

The Understanding the True Cost of College Act is endorsed by 35 organizations, such as: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Veterans Education Success, University of California Student Association, California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, NAACP, Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust, National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA), Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), ACT, Inc and more. Read their letter of support here.