SUNY Fredonia announced Wednesday that it will put in place a new, standardized Financial Aid Letter from the State University of New York this fall.
All of the SUNY system's 64 campuses will use the letter for the 2013-2014 academic year, as part of the SUNY Smart Track campaign, SUNY's broader commitment to transparency in college financing.
The new letter will allow students and their families to see clearly 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.
SUNY Fredonia President Virginia S. Horvath noted, "SUNY Fredonia is committed to helping students afford college and know their options in figuring out how to pay for their college costs. I'm proud that Fredonia has been a pilot campus in the SUNY SmartTrack program, which is a useful complement to the Financial Literacy Guide that Fredonia's Financial Aid Office has produced for years. Together with our colleagues across SUNY, we can ensure that students and families have the information they need as they are choosing a college."
"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."
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 systemwide goal of decreasing the loan default rate of SUNY students by at least five percent over the next five years.
The average indebtedness of a SUNY graduate is $22,575, well below the national average of $26,600. The vast majority of SUNY student loan borrowers repay their loans successfully.
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.