Al Franken Leads Bipartisan Effort Pushing Bill To Disclose The True Cost of College

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Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has reintroduced his bill that would require schools to use a universal financial aid award letter, so that students and families will know how much college will truly cost.

In a statement, Sen. Franken said, “Students in Minnesota graduate with the third highest average debt in the nation—nearly $30,000 each—and part of the problem is that they often don’t have a clear picture of how much their education is going to actually cost them,” said Sen. Franken. “My legislation will require schools to use a universal financial aid letter so students and their families will know exactly how much college will cost, and will help them compare apples to apples when deciding what school a student will attend.”

Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley, and Marco Rubio have joined with Democrats Tom Harken, Kirsten Gillibrand, Patty Murray, Ben Cardin, Charles Schumer, Tom Carper, Richard Blumenthal, Ron Wyden, Richard Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Tim Johnson, Christopher Coons, and Barbara Mikulski to cosponsor the legislation.

Sen. Rubio said, “This legislation is an important step toward helping students and their families make truly informed decisions about their higher education options. For the 21st century student to make smart financial decisions regarding college, we must equip them with easy-to-use and meaningful information about financial aid options available to them. Students will then be able to begin planning for their post-college careers from the beginning, and be prepared to enter today’s competitive global workforce economy upon graduation.”

This is a piece of smart commonsense legislation. For first time students, and their families navigating the financial aid maze is a daunting task that can quickly become impossible thanks to the fragmented and often confusing financial aid process Information has become even more essential since the recession has caused many public schools to respond to the decline in government funding by cutting staff in places like the financial aid office.

It is impossible for students and their families to make good decisions without a uniform standard of information. For most students, pursuing a higher education is a decades long financial commitment. It’s only fair that the people signing on the dotted line know exactly how much they will be spending for years to come. Last year, with fewer cosponsors this bill died in committee. This year it needs to get out of committee, and be passed by the full Senate.

America’s students have a right to know how much their education is really going to cost them.

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