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 Department unveiled the 2013-2014 version of the Shopping Sheet. At the same time, the Education Secretary published an open letter to college and university presidents asking institutions to adopt the Shopping Sheet for use during the 2013-2014 school year. We are continually seeking ways to make this information more user friendly to institutions and students.  We have received useful feedback from institutions and others and have reviewed the NASFAA report No Clear Winner:  Consumer Testing of Financial Aid Award Letters as well as comments that have been submitted to shoppingsheet@ed.gov.  As a result, we have developed a revised format that includes the following changes:

  1. We are changing the name of the template from Financial Aid Shopping Sheet to College Financing Plan to more accurately reflect to the fact that students are making a financial transaction that may involve loans, which must be repaid, when enrolling in an institution.
  2. We are introducing the College Financing Plan template this year as part of a beta testing protocol. While institutions are not required to use the updated template, we hope that some will use it in their financial aid packaging and provide feedback as to improvements that could be made prior to a formal adoption next year.

Any comments or suggestions to improve the College Financing Plan should be submitted to shoppingsheet@ed.gov no later than April 1, 2019.  Students, parents, and institutions may also direct questions about the College Financing Plan to shoppingsheet@ed.gov.

To find the appropriate documentation to implement this year’s College Financing Plan, including this year’s institutional metrics and the beta version, please visit ifap.ed.gov.


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Last Modified: 01/17/2019