NASFAA

AwardLetter: A Resolution to NASFAA’s Ethical Dilemma

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) released an article exploring the ethics of award letter information.

The ethical dilemma is how to remain in compliance with regulations and codes while equipping students with enough information to make responsible borrowing decisions. The piece was met with nothing but excitement around the CampusLogic office!

It isn’t just that the article provides a well-written and holistic view of the transparency, language, regulations and purpose of award letters, featuring the perspectives of three financial aid directors and a case study. It is the nature of the conversation NASFAA is encouraging, a conversation exactly like the ones that led CampusLogic to create AwardLetter, a product proven to help schools reduce student borrowing.

CampusLogic CEO Gregg Scoresby is passionate (if you like understatements) about helping students learn to borrow responsibly. And why wouldn’t he be? Reduce unnecessary borrowing to reduce default rates. It just makes sense.

CampusLogic has known for a long time that the financial aid industry needs a tool to help communicate awards in a manner that facilitates responsible student borrowing. But don’t just take our word for it…all three directors in the NASFAA article are calling for a better solution.

The Experts Weigh In

Lisa Hopper suggests linking from award letters to further describe costs; unfortunately, most award letters are sent via snail mail or through a student information system that can only send plain text emails – making hyperlinks impossible. Thanks to AwardLetter, schools may now send digital and dynamic award letters with links to text or video resources, all displayed with stunning visuals and school-specific branding.

Mary Sommers describes hindrances to award letter clarity and transparency, such as “limitations built into our student information systems and shortages in programming resources.” Delivering AwardLetter is quick and easy to integrate with current systems, requiring little to no tech involvement from the school. Changes to award letter are as simple as sending an email.

Ron Day says, “…use of acronyms, complex phrasing, and words that carry multiple meanings…may in actuality be seen as ‘Greek’ to those outside the financial aid profession.” In a nut shell, this is the problem we aim to solve with AwardLetter. Schools should not be limited to a plain text or printed award letter when they have so much vital information to communicate to students. Students should be able to view their awards on any device at any time, and no student should over-borrow as a result of a confusing, complex or archaic award letter.

Below is part of the article or you may read the entire original piece on the NASFAA website.

“In the series debut, we take a look at what a sample financial aid award letter may be missing – and why that would not comply with NASFAA’s Code of Conduct.

The Ethical Dilemma: Transparency

In conversations with students and parents, financial aid administrator John tries to be as transparent as possible about how much college will truly cost, and what aid they can use to help. He is adept at delineating the differences between self-help and gift aid, and is confident that prospective students leave his office with a greater understanding of financial aid.

The college’s financial aid award letter is not quite as clear, however. The terms make sense to practiced aid professionals, but some less-informed recipients aren’t able to differentiate between grants and loans. Recipients may be confused by some terminology, such as direct and indirect costs and, as a result, may not realize that they will not be billed for indirect costs. They could possibly avoid a suggested loan by reducing indirect costs over which they have some control.

John wants to revise the school’s award letter by grouping offered aid under clear headings for “Grants you do not have to repay” and “Loans you must repay after you leave school.” The institution’s administration…”

Read the rest of the article on the NASFAA website.