Design Principles for Financial Aid Offers

In 2018, New America partnered with uAspire, a nonprofit focused on college access and affordability, to review thousands of financial aid offers from more 500 colleges and universities. The resulting report, Decoding the Cost of College: The Case for Transparent Financial Aid Award Letters, recommended several minimum bars financial aid offers must pass. This included listing price, separating loans from grants, and standardizing terms and formatting. But those recommendations were just a start.

This report reviews findings from the Decoding the Cost of College report, presents each stage of efforts to redesign financial aid offers, and discusses recommendations for design principles. The report also includes an example of how financial aid offers should be structured and the role of policy in improving financial aid offers.