Albany – The State University of New York on February 20 announced that all of the system’s 64 campuses will use a standard Financial Aid Award Letter for the 2013-14 academic year, as part of the SUNY Smart Track™ campaign, the system’s commitment to college cost transparency and a reduction in student debt.
The new award letter will allow students and their families to see clearly the cost of attendance and financial aid offerings at each campus, including campus-specific information such as graduation rate, median borrowing, and loan default rate. SUNY is the first and largest public system of higher education nationally to implement such a tool for students and families.
“While college students across the country are taking on more loan debt than ever before, SUNY Smart Track™ gives our prospective students the most comprehensive and transparent financial aid information available so that they can make informed decisions about how to pay for their college education,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “The standard award letter will allow prospective students and their families to easily compare colleges within SUNY and view a full outline of the financial commitment associated with their education.”
Development of the standard financial aid award letter was first announced when SUNY launched its Smart Track™ campaign in September. With the launch, SUNY adopted the concept of transparency of financial aid and college costs and the system began offering students the most proactive, comprehensive financial aid information and services in the country.
More recently, in the 2013 State of the University Address, Chancellor Zimpher announced that SUNY Smart Track™ would contribute to a wider system-wide goal of decreasing the loan default rate of SUNY students by at least five percent over the next five years.
In 2010-11, 91 percent of full-time Cayuga students received some form of financial aid, and the College disburses approximately $25 million a year in grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study. The current tuition for in-state residents (with certificate of residence) at Cayuga is $3,950 a year. At Cayuga, the median loan amount for a new full-time student is approximately $7,233, with an average median monthly repayment amount of $83.24.
The average indebtedness of a SUNY graduate is $22,575, well below the national average of $26,600. The vast majority of SUNY student loan borrowers repay their loans successfully.
The SUNY Smart Track™ Award Letter was developed by a committee of campus Financial Aid Directors, and others, who were tasked with adopting the intent of the federal Financial Aid Shopping Sheet while creating a unique version for SUNY. Additionally, the campaign calls for an expansion of SUNY’s Student Loan Service Center, early engagement of students at risk of default, and providing new and improved online resources such as a net price calculator, chats with financial aid experts, and financial literacy materials.
Cayuga provides a net price calculator on its web site: www.cayuga-cc.edu/npc. The Financial Aid Office also hosts several free information sessions on financial aid planning and application for future college students or parents of future students on both campuses as well as at area high schools.
“We serve as a resource to area guidance counselors and others in the area who need help with the financial aid process,” said Judi Miladin, Cayuga director of financial aid. “We do our best to educate incoming students about financial aid packages and loan repayment, so they understand how they can finance their education and know what their financial obligations will be after graduation.”