|MCC Implements SUNY Financial Aid Award Letter (02/20/2013)
ROCHESTER, N.Y. –- Beginning this spring, Monroe Community College students and their families will receive a more reader-friendly financial aid award letter. The new letter, standardized by the State University of New York, allows students and their families to more clearly see 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. The initiative is part of the SUNY Smart Track™ campaign, SUNY’s broader commitment to transparency in college financing and reducing student debt throughout New York.
“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.”
“MCC is ahead of the curve in terms of implementation,” said Jerome St. Croix, MCC’s director of financial aid who is responsible for implementing the new format. “The letter provides more information to the student and gives us an opportunity to help them decrease their reliance on student loans.”
MCC also requires students to complete an online student loan counseling session before applying for their first loan. The result has been an increase of 54 percent in students using a payment plan and a decrease of 27 percent in the amount of unpaid tuition and fees sent to collections during the past year (spring 2012 versus spring 2011).
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.
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 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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