Lesser Amendment Expanding Options for Students to Compare College Financial Aid Information Passes Senate

BOSTON — A bill passed by the State Senate today included an amendment filed by Senator Eric P. Lesser which encourages higher education institutions to make financial aid and scholarship information available via mobile devices.

The bill, S. 2247 An Act requiring institutions of higher education to provide uniform financial aid information to accepted applicants, was introduced by Senator Eileen M. Donoghue. It directs colleges and universities to release individual versions of the “Financial Aid Shopping Sheet,” created in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The sheet clearly lays out the total costs of attendance, grants and scholarships offered, and the costs that students and families will be responsible to pay after aid is subtracted from the total costs.

Senator Lesser’s amendment encourages colleges and universities to release this information via mobile apps, which would give students quicker, easier access to this comparison information.

“One of the main problems we hear from students in the college application and loan repayment process is that they did not have a clear understanding of the costs up front. With this bill, anyone who gets accepted to a college in Massachusetts will know how much that diploma will cost so they can compare that to other schools and take the acceptance letter that makes the most financial sense for them,” said Senator Lesser.

“For this tech-savvy generation it only makes sense that this information should be available in as many forms as possible, online and on your phone,” he added.

“This bill represents an inexpensive solution that, starting in the 2019-2020 academic year, would help students find the colleges that will graduate them on time and with as little debt as possible,” said Senator Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell). “Given our knowledge-based economy and the increasing costs of earning a degree, the Commonwealth needs to empower young people and their families with easily digestible data so that students can best position themselves to pursue careers free from unnecessarily burdensome student loans.”

Senator Lesser, who is a member of the Joint Committee on Higher Education and co-chair of the Millennial Caucus, has been vocal on the issue of college costs since joining the Senate in 2015.

Last year, he introduced S. 129, a “Student Loan Bill of Rights,” which puts in place a number of protections for student loan borrowers and requires that loan servicers obtain licenses to operate in the state, subject to their following these protections. Senator Lesser testified on the bill before the Higher Education Committee in July.

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