ED Shopping Sheet

Institutional researchers are increasingly asked to produce consumer information in addition to their traditional roles in decision-support. The latest request to colleges and universities is the Shopping Sheet, a standardized format for financial aid offers. Even on campuses where the financial aid office handles the Shopping Sheet, IR may find these calculations to be important new sources of data for other campus reports and research projects. Anytime new data become available, IR professionals explore the potential for using the data in benchmarking, evaluating financial aid outcomes, as control variables or predictors, and more. Though participation in the Shopping Sheet is not mandatory at this time, be sure you are ready when questions about the Shopping Sheet arise on your campus.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) Shopping Sheet press release highlights the goal of this product—to alleviate consumer confusion created by the fact that each college and university has its own financial aid award letter.
In a letter to college and university presidents, Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, asks higher education institutions to voluntarily adopt the Shopping Sheet for the 2013-2014 academic year.

COMMENT about this initiative in the Forum below.

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Discussion: What are your thoughts about the Shopping Sheet? Do you see potential for using these data in IR projects?


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Total Comments: 7
Lucy posted on 8/23/2012 5:04 PM
I have never seen the award letters that our Financial Aid office sends out, so I cannot compare how different this is. Is anything on this form really "new" data? Is it just that we could have access to data that was difficult to get before? We haven't done much analysis with Financial Aid data on our campus. What are other campuses doing with FinAid data?
John posted on 8/23/2012 5:06 PM
I think that it is a great idea, but without providing templates for a variety of tools, consistency across universities will be a real challenge.

For one, I'd like them to provide Latex templates so we might R/Sweave to a PDF for posting.
Michael posted on 8/24/2012 7:31 AM
We have talked about adopting this, but no final decision has been made. As pointed out this is a shopping sheet for the consumers so they can compare some of the base costs of attending different instituions. Remember this would be personalized for each individual based on their application for financial aide at each institution.
Lee posted on 8/24/2012 8:12 AM
Our office gets the Cost of Attendance data for our institution from Financial Aid annually and we work very closely with them on other initiatives that involve the data on this Shopping Sheet. With the advent of Gainful Employment, Net Price Calculator, and initiatives to Assist in early college completion, there are many elements here that can be tied to the accessibility, availability, and completion of a college-level credential. I see some invaluable opportunities for the use of this data in IR and in other aentities at the institution.
Sri posted on 8/24/2012 8:15 AM
This looks like a good worksheet for the parents.
Matt posted on 8/24/2012 8:47 AM
I applaud the effort since this is information that can be used, along with many other sources, to find an affordable option for students.

Yet, for non-traditional institutions, this misses the boat. Certainly costs are a concern, but the majority of non-traditional students don't attend full-time. Nor do they look for housing and meals, work-study, etc.

I am interested to see a version for this growing student population.
Jamie posted on 8/24/2012 3:36 PM
While I do see how standardized award letters could help students and parents compare offers from multiple institutions, I don't see the need for this sort of unit-record-data to be aggregared at the federal level - if that's where this is headed.