New Paltz to begin using standardized financial aid award letter this fall

NEW PALTZ – The State University of New York at New Paltz will join statewide SUNY campuses in adopting a standardized Financial Aid Award Letter for the 2013-14 academic year. The initiative is part of the SUNY Smart Track™ campaign, SUNY’s broader commitment to transparency in college financing.

The SUNY Smart Track™ Award 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. The new 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.

The Federal Shopping Sheet’s main objective is to let families “know before they owe.” By subtracting grant and scholarship aid from college costs, families will know their out-of-pocket obligation and can then decide if they want to consider other options such as student and parent loans or time payment plans. The Shopping Sheet can also be used to compare various college aid offers by giving students a “bottom line” of what they must pay before they have to consider loan aid.

Stating his support for the standardized letter, Daniel Sistarenik, director of New Paltz’s Financial Aid Office, said, “I think the new letter is a great consumer information tool as it requires families to stop and think about loan debt well before they make a final college choice.”

L. David Eaton, New Paltz’s vice president of enrollment management, stated, “We endorse the SUNY Standardized award letter and Smart Track campaign that Chancellor Zimpher has launched. Overall, prospective students and families should experience a more transparent and simpler navigation of the college financing challenges ahead via this new standardized award letter.”

In the 2013 State of the University Address, Chancellor Zimpher stated that SUNY Smart Track™ will contribute to a system-wide goal of decreasing the loan default rate of SUNY students by at least five percent over the next five years. The campaign also 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.