Campus News

UGA joins College Cost Transparency Initiative

The Arch seen through the columns of the Holmes Hunter Building. (Photo by Dorothy Kozkowski/UGA)

The initiative will standardize the language used in financial aid offers, so all costs, terms and conditions are easily comprehensible

The University of Georgia has joined a national initiative committed to financial aid transparency.

Along with the other 25 schools in the University System of Georgia, UGA is now among more than 360 higher education institutions that have joined the College Cost Transparency Initiative. This initiative will standardize the language used in financial aid offers, so all costs, terms and conditions are easily comprehensible. This way, prospective undergraduate students and their families will have an easier time understanding the components of each offer they receive and be able to compare those offers side by side.

“The University of Georgia has always prided itself in its financial aid transparency,” said Nancy Ferguson, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid. “In fact, during this initiative’s development phase, we were honored that our financial aid offer letters were submitted as examples from schools that are already meeting the initiative’s goals. It has always been important to us that students are financially informed and assured as they take the next step of their education, and our commitment to transparency will continue as a member of this initiative.”

The College Cost Transparency Initiative and its standards were created by a task force of 10 leaders of higher education associations that represent college presidents, financial aid offices, and admissions and school counselors.

At its launch, the institutions dedicated to this initiative serve more than 3.8 million students. In 2023, UGA’s total enrollment stands above 40,000 with more than 30,000 undergraduate students. Ensuring all enrolled and prospective UGA students understand their financial aid options and opportunities is a priority of the UGA Office of Student Financial Aid.

As part of the University of Georgia’s most recent fundraising campaign, more than $100 million was raised for need-based aid, creating nearly 700 need-based scholarships through the Georgia Commitment Scholars program. The first Georgia Commitment Scholarships were awarded in the 2017-18 academic year, and nearly 1,300 UGA students have benefited from these scholarships. Eligible Georgia residents receive the HOPE or Zell Miller Scholarship in addition to the Georgia Commitment Scholarship.

“Providing opportunities that minimize student loan debt is a top priority at the University of Georgia,” said Andy Borst, vice provost for enrollment management. “We prioritize both transparency as well as affordability for one of the best college experiences in the country.”

The principles and standards established by the College Cost Transparency Initiative require that all financial aid offers:

  • are transparent, ensuring that costs are understandable for students and families, and include the most accurate estimate possible of a student’s costs.
  • describe and explain all types of aid offered using standardized, plain language.
  • prominently display critical components, such as an estimate of the student’s total cost of attendance, broken down by costs to be paid to the institution and costs paid to others; types and sources of financial aid being offered, separated into grants and scholarships, student loans, and student employment or work; an estimated net price; and more.
  • follow U.S. Department of Education guidance with regards to referencing Parent PLUS Loans.
  • provide information about employment requirements and information on job placement, if student employment is offered.
  • explain the terms and conditions and information on how much student loan debt may cost over time, if federal student loans are included.

The College Cost Transparency Initiative also provides a set of financial aid offer examples as guidelines for institutions to follow as well as a glossary to define and differentiate the commonly used financial aid terms. The goal is to expand the reach of this initiative through more partner institutions, and there is already a long list of partner institutions committed to following these standards by Nov. 1, 2023.