University clarifies Financial Aid

Madeline Diamond, Assistant News Editor

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The University recently clarified the language of its financial aid requirements after allegations that it, along with many other universities, had used misleading language to describe the financial aid application process.

In a recent New York Times article, the University was among several universities accused of misleading financial aid applicants about required forms. Maryland Representative Elijah E. Cummings has called these practices into question. In fact, these deceptive practices may violate federal law.

Federal law states that college students are only required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, many universities claim to require the FAFSA and the CSS/Financial Aid Profile from the College Board, which costs $25 initially and $16 to send to additional schools.

While individual colleges, such as our own, may require the CSS Profile, the language on many school websites implies that the federal government requires this form when it in fact doesn’t.

“At issue was the potentially confusing language on our website. We have updated that language so that the process is more clear,” Director of Financial Aid Andrea Leithner Stauffer said.

Director of Media Communications Andy Hirsch was quoted in the New York Times also stating that the University has clarified information on the financial aid website to indicate that the CSS Profile is required by the University but not by the federal government.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, about 70 percent of total U.S. college students received some sort of financial aid for the 2009-10 academic year. Compared to the national average, about 50 percent of University students currently receive aid from the University, while 62 percent receive aid from either the University or an outside agency.

“Most of our students do want to apply for all possible forms of aid, so they need to complete both the FAFSA and CSS,” Stauffer said.

Cummings’ investigation of colleges’ financial aid policies has sparked many of the schools in questions to more clearly explain their policies, including the College of William and Mary and Brown University.

 

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