Improving Clarity in Financial Aid Offers
Content and Design Recommendations for Transparent Student Communications
The American Talent Initiative’s latest issue brief, “Improving Clarity in Financial Aid Offers,” centers on the need for colleges and universities to prioritize clear, transparent financial aid communications, especially as the cost of college has significantly increased over the past three decades and left a shrinking number of students able to afford higher education (especially amid the pandemic). To address this enduring challenge, institutions can use powerful tools like the financial aid offer to help students understand the true cost of college and the options at their disposal to afford higher education. When colleges put clarity at the center of their financial aid communications, students have a clearer understanding of how they can afford it—and are more likely to enroll as a result.
As a part of this brief, ATI has identified 10 key principles at the heart of a clear, concise financial aid offer, drawing on institutions’ best practices and financial aid recommendations. With these principles in mind, ATI has also designed a financial aid offer exemplar for institutions to consult as they develop their own offers, encompassing guidance around a student’s net price, unmet need, and indirect expenses. In addition to the brief and exemplar, ATI has also developed a standalone implementation checklist that institutions of all types can use to update their financial aid communications.