The College Financing Plan

This web page provides students, families, and institutions with information about the College Financing Plan. The College Financing Plan has been previously referred to as the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet, Model Financial Aid Offer Form, and Know Before You Owe.

The College Financing Plan is a consumer tool that participating institutions use to notify students about their financial aid package. It is a standardized form that is designed to simplify the information that prospective students receive about costs and financial aid so that they can easily compare institutions and make informed decisions about where to attend school. The College Financing Plan became available for use beginning in the 2013-2014 award year.

In July 2012, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) released the College Financing Plan (formerly known as the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet) and asked institutions to voluntarily commit to using it to supply financial aid information to students in a way that could be understood and compared easily.

Last year, the Department released both a traditional template and a Responsive Preview. The Department received feedback to improve the form, which is now the Undergraduate form. For 2021-2022, we created an additional form to reflect the needs of graduate and professional school students more accurately. Working with the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), financial aid administrators and other stakeholders, we have received valuable input to create the Graduate and Professional school form. 

Each of the components institutions need to complete institutional College Financing Plans are available below, including the HTML specifications file, technical guide, and a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

The format of the College Financing Plan has also been updated for 2020-2021 to include additional data elements, a new responsive design, and the ability to customize the colors of the College Financing Plan to match those of your institution.

HTML Specifications:

Institutions and their software providers may use the attached HTML specifications to produce and populate the College Financing Plan, using the applicable fields from their existing data systems. The HTML specifications include a “download” button on the College Financing Plan so that students may save their student aid offer information in XML, a machine-readable format. This XML layout is also attached. We encourage institutions providing students with their College Financing Plan in electronic format to include this feature.

Institutions delivering the College Financing Plan in print form may remove the “download” button. For convenience, a PDF version of the College Financing Plan is also attached.

Questions may be directed to collegefinancingplan@ed.gov

Attachments/Enclosures:

Undergraduate form:

2021-22 Annotated Undergraduate College Financing Plan 
2021-22 Undergraduate College Financing Plan Template 
2021-22 Undergraduate College Financing Plan Technical Guide 
2021-22 Undergraduate HTML Specification  (Updated 12/15/2020)

Graduate/Professional Form:

2021-22 Annotated Graduate/Professional School College Financing Plan 
2021-22 Graduate/Professional College Financing Plan Template 
2021-22 Graduate/Professional College Financing Plan Technical Guide 
2021-22 Graduate/Professional HTML Specification  (Updated 12/15/2020)

Combined:

2021-22 College Financing Plan FAQ 

 

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Last Modified: 12/15/2020